It is commonly understood that there is a bias in the television news media with Fox News on the right and MSNBC and their ilk on the left, but the real conflict is between the corporate left broadcast media and the independent progressive left media — a conversation many might not be aware is happening. What divides the two camps is simple: It comes down to where you get your news.
Claiming that MSNBC and CNN, among others, represent the ideas of the left shows a misunderstanding that most people under 30 get their news online. More than 39 million people have cut the cord and no longer have access to cable.
While left-leaning corporate broadcast media has been consumed with Russian conspiracies (albeit appropriate, given our corrupt commander-in-chief), a new independent left has emerged. Provided by podcasts, left-wing magazines and YouTube channels, this new left is less likely to be controlled by corporate interests and presents a world-view different from their corporate counterparts.
If you get your news from MSNBC you might think that the Russiagate case was a slam dunk, Bernie Sanders has no shot of winning, the Ukraine investigation is the most important story of our time and Nancy Pelosi is the first line of defense against Donald Trump.
Get your news online and you’d see the holes on the Russiagate story, learn that Bernie Sanders has been consistently second in the polls and has the best chance of beating Trump in the 2020 election. And you’d see that while the so-called #resistance pretends to fight Trump, the democratic leadership gave him $750 billion for his already bloated military budget, allowed a ban on trans soldiers to go through, gave him money for his wall and to create a Space Force and voted for the Patriot Act to be renewed.
The emergence of the independent left exposes the limits of the corporate media. It isn’t that the corporate media reports a different take than the left; the corporate media simply refuses to report anything that does not support the agenda of their corporate overlords.
One of the most glaring omissions by the mainstream media was the protest at Standing Rock. The protest arose in 2016 when Dakota Access LLC attempted to build a 1,172-mile oil pipeline adjacent to the Standing Rock Reservation. Worries that the proximity of the oil to the reservation’s water supply would cause environmental catastrophe created one of the longest protests in American history. While independent media began coverage right away, the mainstream media was months late to the story.
Four years later, the media that came late to the party on Standing Rock continues to deny reality and refuses to cover one of the only presidential candidates courageous enough to join the protest at Standing Rock: Bernie Sanders (the only other to join the protest was Tulsi Gabbard).
They leave outsider candidates like Bernie, Tulsi Gabbard and Andrew Yang out of graphics and keep their names out of headlines, while pushing the candidates (like Amy Klobuchar) who fit their agenda, no matter their floundering in the polls. CNN once reported the headline “Buttigieg a strong fourth,” Leaving out what one might argue is the little detail that Bernie Sanders had emerged in second place. Whether the Bernie blackout is conspiracy to favor candidates who won’t come for the corporate media’s bottom line or unconscious bias is up for debate, but its existence is undeniable.
Is MSNBC aware of the bias toward support of the military industrial complex or part of some vast conspiracy? Readers of Noam Chomsky’s Manufacturing Consent know this is not how it works. When Chomsky was asked by journalist Andrew Marr if he believed Marr was pushing a narrative he didn’t believe in to toe the party line Chomsky replied, “I’m sure you believe everything you’re saying… but if you believed something different, you wouldn’t be sitting where you are sitting.”
The divide is growing right under the nose of those who believe they are informed. But the truth is, you can consume five newspapers a day and watch CNN, MSNBC and NBC daily and still miss a massive and essential conversation about what is happening in the world.
Watch CNN and you will never hear about America’s complacency in the genocide in Yemen. You might not know that the Obama administration’s intervention in Libya has reduced the corrupt-yet-somewhat functioning dictatorship into a nightmare state where slaves are sold on the street.
It would be easy to dismiss the YouTubers and podcasters as sad tin foil hat types, broadcasting from their momma’s basement — and lord knows there’s plenty of that on YouTube, but this new left comes with its own set of credentials.
Take, for example, Krystal Ball, Cenk Uygar and Dylan Ratigan. All used to work for MSNBC and left or were fired when it became obvious they wouldn’t play ball. Krystal Ball was given her walking papers from MSNBC when she dared suggest Hillary Clinton was not the best candidate to beat Donald Trump. Dylan Ratigan quit out of frustration and Cenk Uyger was pushed out of his time slot for being too hard on Barack Obama. He went on to grow his network, The Young Turks, into the largest political show in YouTube history.
The progressive left plays the role of journalist no matter who is in power, leveling criticisms at left and right whenever they do wrong. This kind of journalism is desperately needed in our time.
This new left caters to a news-hungry crowd of young voters who have never and will never own cable. They are pissed, they are politically active and they are the future of the country. Dismissing the significance of this audience and where they get their information is a mistake the Democrats make at their own risk, yet still it seems to go all but ignored by the Democratic party.
There is a vital conversation to be had as to what it means to be left and what it means to resist, yet the participants seem to be having this conversation in two different bubbles: one paid for by the military industrial complex and one made for the people, by the people. Which one is more likely to tell the truth?
If you want to get out of your bubble, but don’t know where to begin, check out a a sampling of some of the best of progressive media at motifri.com/leftvleft.
WHERE TO CATCH PROGRESSIVE NEWS
TYT network is the first major progressive news network on Youtube. Hosted by Cenk Uygur and Ana Kasparian, TYT offers commentary and investigative journalism, pop culture news and more.
Follow @cenkuygur, @AnaKasparian
NOTE: Uygur is currently running for congress and mainstream media has done a ton to smear him for blogs he wrote and things he said over a decade ago. What they don’t tell you is — he founded the Justice Democrats (the organization that gave us AOC), founded the Wolfpac to get money out of politics, fostered the career of many female journalists and has the most diverse cross-section of commentators than any other network, employing trans, LBQT, black & Latinx commentators. In other words, he has done more for progressive policies than anyone in media.
Righteous anger level = Four middle fingers to the establishment
Jimmy Dore split off from The Young Turks over a disagreement on Russiagate. To his credit, Cenk Uygur let Jimmy remain on the show until Jimmy decided to leave. The two remain friends. Now Jimmy runs his own show and performs live comedy show all around the US. Self-described as a “jagoff comedian,” Jimmy is one of the most effective debunkers of mainstream media lies.
Righteous anger level = = Five middle fingers and one for your momma. Jimmy is the angriest of them all, and possibly the most entertaining.
Rolling Stone, continuing over a half a century tradition of being a voice for progressive media, recently began a podcast with Matt Taibbi and Katie Halper. Taibbi is the guy who took over Hunter S. Thompson’s old gig, chronicling fear and loathing on the campaign trail. Paired up with the hilarious Katie Halper, each week they give us the four foodgroups: Democrats suck, Republicans suck, something weird, something funny and most stoned moment of the week.
Follow @kthalps, @mtaibbi
Chapo Trap House is one of the most popular progressive podcasts and part of “The Dirtbag Left,” a term coined by Trap House’s female member, Amber A’Lee Frost. They are dirtbags because they refuse to moderate their anger to operate in polite society, and the result is a show that is brutally honest, filthy, hilarious and relentless in its criticism of American politics.
Righteous anger level = Five middle fingers.
The Gray Zone created by Max Blumenthal is the home of Aaron Maté, who won an award for his coverage of the Russiagate scandal. Blumenthal and Maté do a great job of forcing American’s to confront hard truths about the country’s role on the world’s stage.
Follow @MaxBlumenthal, @aaronjmate
Righteous anger level = four middle fingers
Kim Iversen has carved a niche out for herself as one of the prime defenders of Tulsi Gabbard and Gabbard’s stance on ending America’s policy of regime change wars. While the mainstream media has painted Tulsi as everything from a Russian asset to a closet Republican, Iversen shows her for what she is — one of the most principled people in congress.
Righteous anger level = two middle fingers
Ryan Grim writes for The Intercept and works for The Young Turks as an investigative journalist. Grim has been called “a left-wing populist attack dog” and he is, breaking stories that expose the DNC. Apparently, doing the job of exposing truth is “attacking” — I thought it was journalism.
Follow him @ryangrim
Glen Greenwald is no longer welcome on MSNBC after refuting their Russiagate narrative one too many times. Greenwald won the Pulitzer-Prize for his coverage of the secret surveillance program run by the NSA and remains one of the most unflinching critics of the American government
Follow him @ggreenwald
The Hill is producing one of the most subversive and brilliant shows on the internet. It looks like a morning show, complete with a milquetoast theme music and brightly lit set, but the hosts ,former MSNBC anchor, Krystal Ball and (sort-of) Republican Saagar Enjeti offer unflinching commentary criticizing both sides of the aisle.
Follow @krystalball, @esaagar
Abby Martin has created a series of hard-hitting documentaries on American Imperialism. She’s as harsh a critic of US interventionism as they come, and it is hard to deny the evidence she presents — that our country is still a bad actor on the world’s stage.
Self described as “America’s most watched black independent media on the left” the Tim Black show is funny, provocative and tackles topics the mainstream press ignores.
Former Air America anchor Sam Seder offers progressive commentary alongside Michael Brooks.
Founding member of the Justice Democrats, Kyle Kulinski, is one of the most entertaining and eviscerating commentators on the left.
This is by no means a comprehensive list, for HONORABLE MENTIONS check out: