By ceding the cultural ground instead of seeding it:
Ever since the early days of Rush Limbaugh, liberals/progressives have been playing a defensive game in the media. They ceded the AM radio dial, while corporate conservatives bought up companies and radio stations by the plentiful, allowing for a multitude of conservative hosts to dominate the airwaves. Meanwhile, the liberals argued that the only way to combat such was to reinstate the Fairness Doctrine; they did not buy radio clusters, or even cultivate hosts, until the early-to-mid-2000s, and by then, conservatives had a hierarchy of voices. Even by the time MSNBC—a network that started operations at around the same time as Fox News Channel in 1996—truly began pushing a more liberal viewpoint in late 2007, Fox News had cornered the conservative market—and by extension, the political media narrative—for 11 years.
Meanwhile, several progressive publications and radio networks went underfunded, or had a less-than-ideal business plan, and folded in the same period. Nevertheless, while all this was going on, where were all these donors, who Mr. Soros claims are all disaffected, and tired of politicians not fighting “losing battles”? Wherever they were, it was not helping to build a counterbalance to a Fox News, or a Wall Street Journal, while Rupert Murdoch took control of that paper; lending a hand, or even a couple hundred million dollars, to create a venue for the progressive message. They were doing little of anything and remaining silent, as the conservatives pilloried and did their dirt right out in the open.
To some extent, liberal media has circumvented the media gap via podcasting. But as Nicole Sandler and Bob Kincaid can testify, no one gets rich podcasting either. Here, as with the internet, one basic problem is that bloggers are not rewarded for centrism. My traffic is abysmal for a “major site.” Not only does the left need to stop whining about a president who isn’t on the ballot, the movement must organically grow some simple causes, and must do so by supporting alternative media while alt media pushes causes. We forgot the “roots” in netroots.
I mean, where are Van Jones and “GREEN JOBS NOW”? I talk about these things here, but they don’t make me rich, either. I heard at Netroots Nation that some 20,000 Americans are blogging full time at an average of $22,000 a year, and I’ve had about $1500 in fundraising for the entire year. Even a progressive rock goddess like Shannyn Moore is not rich. She has no book deal, and if she did have one the left has no direct mail infrastructure to give away copies for a dollar or put her on a national tour. There is no path to fame through the more liberal end of cable, either, as it spends most of its time just dissecting the smoke coming from the fear factory.
Bob Kincaid has estimated that for every hour a liberal spends on the air, there are one thousand hours of Radio Rwanda. Until that changes, liberalism is a dirty word and progressive causes will have wasted their greatest opportunity in a generation. They must stop ceding the ground and start seeding it.