Calling All Media Who Are Brave Enough to Take on a Crucial New Role

Julie Hotard
6 min readOct 13, 2018


Somebody needs to repeat important political priorities

I started thinking about this while hearing Republicans repeat their talking points in defense of Bret Kavanaugh, and while reading about repeated themes in Right Wing and Russian propaganda that were simply plugged into the Kavanaugh controversy.

We are swimming in Right Wing propaganda, which is one reason why Trump was elected. Most of it is from Right Wing media. But even mainstream media also contain a fair amount of it. Right Wing lies influence even Democrats and mainstream media journalists constantly. Here are four examples.

If the free press wants to exercise its potential as an institution essential to our democracy, more media companies are going to have to face some harsh realities and take on more risks.

Our current situation is that Right Wing propagandists, who use even mainstream media as vehicles for delivery of lies, seem to be the largest influence on the public and our government — so much that the Right Wing currently controls all branches of the federal government and most states.

Right Wing propaganda influences the public far more than anything else media do. Some mainstream media folks are waking up and smelling the covfefe. For example, many are deciding not to cover Trump’s rallies live any more. The waking up needs to continue.

The harsh truth is that many in mainstream media have lost touch with objective reality. The Right Wing repeats its talking points in mainstream media, through Right Wing pundits, talk show hosts and columnists. Mainstream media hire such people too, in order to have “balance.” Unfortunately, this often ends up being “balance” between truth and lies, so that a significant amount of what mainstream media consumers get is lies.

Many in mainstream media think objective reality is a midpoint between the Democrats’ views and the Republicans’ views. Because of this false equivalence, mainstream media often allow themselves to be pushed further and further to the Right.

For example, Right Wing politicians have been labeling Democrats who legally protest as “an angry mob.”

At the same time, Right Wingers have been beating up people in the streets.

Midway between Right Wing lies about large numbers of Democrats being dangerous, and actual real life violence by Right Wingers, is the common mainstream media point of view — “Both sides do it.”

This false equivalence view treats the Right Wing’s false claims of Leftist violence as if they’re the same thing as actual Right Wing violence. Such an attitude of false equivalence ends up making media biased in favor of violent people.

That’s why it’s incredibly dangerous for mainstream media to keep practicing habits like bothsidesism, false equivalence, and whataboutism.

Reporting on the Right Wing’s false fantasies about violent Left Wingers, as if they are reality, is wrong. It could incite Right Wingers to rise up violently to defend themselves against imaginary Left Wing angry mobs. Looking at the news I cited above, it’s possible that this kind of reporting has already had that effect.

The violence has gone further since I wrote this. Bombs have been discovered that were mailed to a news organization, as well as to a number of Democratic leaders.

Even in situations that have to do with violence, Right Wing propaganda messages influence the public more than any other messages carried by mainstream media. Why? One reason is mainstream media habits like bothsidesism e.g the idea that both sides do violence — even when the Right Wing side does violent acts much more often than the Left, and the acts are on average far more serious. Yelling at a Congress members in a restaurant is not equivalent to sending bombs to opposition party leaders.

Another reason for this outsized Right Wing influence is that, all other things being equal, what people remember most is what is repeated most. The Right Wing repeats its talking points over and over in Right Wing media: Sinclair, Fox, Right Wing talk radio, Right Wing Internet sites, podcasts and social media, and Right Wing newspapers.

Right Wingers who work for mainstream media also repeat those talking points nonstop.

So Right Wingers have fixed talking points that they repeat incessantly. But do Democrats have any talking points? If so, they’re not repeating them often. If Democrats have any, I don’t know what they are. Do you? Democrats ought to have talking points about issues of great importance to the public e.g. that Republicans are slashing Social Security and Medicare to pay for tax cuts for people who don’t need tax cuts.

Both Democrats and mainstream media need to outdo Right Wing media at being organized and focused, if democracy is to survive. The Republican party and Right Wing media excel in both these areas.

Are there any mainstream media companies that are brave enough to take on the role of media leader for democracy? This needs to be done in both the positive sense and the negative sense. In the positive sense, media should be pro-truth, pro-transparency in media and in government, pro-democracy, pro-justice and for individual rights.

In the area of being pro-transparency in media, that means, for example, calling out Sinclair Broadcasting over and over again, for their deception of the public. Sinclair hides behind NBC, CBS and ABC logos, thus keeping the public from knowing that their local stations are Sinclair owned stations that are required to show Right Wing biases. Other media should repeatedly expose this deception.

The truth about situations like this needs to be repeated over and over until the truth here is common knowledge of which most people are aware.

Looking at the negative side of things, media need to be anti-corruption in the economy and in government. Media need to be anti-violence. There is a need for focus on political actions and events that are likely to destroy democracy quickly and/or likely to destroy the average American’s health, welfare or economic situation quickly now or in the future.

Media need to start repeating both the positive and the negative stories of these types more often, covering them many times. Why? Because if the free press is an institution that functions to preserve democracy and justice, media need to do that. That requires repeating what is important, rather than always focusing on Melania’s clothes or Trump’s latest lie about something unimportant.

Media need to stop being mostly entertainment for people w tiny attention spans. The public needs news that has continuity, context and followup. Media’s job is to inform voters and consumers, giving people the information needed to make educated decisions about who to vote for and what companies to trust w their purchases — or to boycott because they are doing great harm to the public.

Mainstream media don’t need to be partisan. But they need to be unafraid of being falsely accused of being partisan by the Right Wing, as the Right Wing tries to manipulate mainstream media into leaning further and further Right. If media want to take the lead in saving our nation, they need to have pro-democracy values and demonstrate them — not cower in fear of criticism by Right Wingers.

Those media who are obsessed with “balance” have been treating truth, democracy, justice, non-violence and individual rights, as if these are partisan issues. But those media are wrong. They need to get over such false beliefs.

Media need to repeat often the stories on the most important topics for the public welfare. Media must let the public know what they need to know, to be informed effective citizens of a democracy.

One more issue is that most news media act as if a situation has to be new to be “news” —for example, a new lie told by a Republican Congress member today, or a new email released about Hillary Clinton having a pizza for lunch plus a new Right Wing conspiracy theory about it.

If something didn’t just happen or didn’t get said very recently, most in media do not consider it “news.” But “news” needs to be redefined as WHAT AFFECTS PEOPLE’S LIVES TODAY OR WILL VERY SOON — not necessarily what just happened in the last hour. Otherwise, democracy will end up in the trash heap.



Julie Hotard