Sunday, April 10, 2016

For Those Living Inside the Corporate Echo Chamber

Sometimes the financially expedient choice is also the ethical choice, as when people refuse to pay for their own brainwashing.

The main argument I hear for cutting the cord is that doing so will lower your bills without limiting your access to quality programming that is readily available via hulu, Amazon, or other streaming services.

But there’s a more important reason to cut the cord: Going cold turkey on cable television means no more FOX on a loop, no more CNN on a loop, no more MSNBC on a loop. 

If you’re living in that corporate echo chamber right now as a true blue Democrat, you’re hearing no less a luminary than Rachel Maddow insist that the Sanders campaign should be doing more to raise money for down-ticket Democrats.

Maddow may not be conscientious, but she is conscious. She knows that in addition to its own fundraising capabilities, the Clinton campaign can count on support from many Democratic incumbents and party officials who will be receiving (or have already received) cash infusions from the same people who are already bankrolling Clinton’s super PACs.

Maddow's line of questioning exposes that she, like Clinton, is completely tone-deaf to those of us who keep sending our money to Sanders because he isn’t bought off by the same interests that exert so much influence over Clinton. Telling us that Clinton is better for Democrats because she can distribute payola to her crony underlings better than Sanders can is tantamount to saying, “Hey Bernie, we’re really starting to see the limitations of your grassroots campaign in terms of your inability to deliver sufficient cash incentives to Democratic incumbents for their support. What gives, bud?”

Never mind that Sanders will achieve far more than Clinton could dream of achieving for down-ticket candidates simply by turning out enthusiastic droves of progressive and independent voters (who will be eager to install any candidates sympathetic to the Sanders agenda). Never mind that the Sanders campaign has more important things to think about than down-ticket races just now, such as winning delegates and developing a strategy for the convention (since the true mathematical situation, which the corporate media is forbidden to discuss, is that neither candidate is currently likely to clinch the nomination before the convention). Never mind that given the incredible obstacles the Sanders campaign has overcome so far, Maddow’s question suggests that if she had rowed out to interview Gertrude Ederle in 1926 while the swimmer was making her way across the English Channel, she would have begun by flinging Ederle a rope from her dinghy and asking for a tug back to shore. “You’ve shown tremendous strength and resilience to this point in your efforts, Ms. Ederle,” Maddow would begin, “but the real question is, ‘Why aren’t you showing even more strength and resilience?’”

If anything, the main story of the upcoming week should concern the laughable disconnect between establishment tools (ranging from the talking heads of corporate media to the political figures those heads talk incessantly about) and the electorate. Those of us who are talking to each other face-to-face and online know very well that we are not figments of anyone's imagination (as is so often the case with the implied audience addressed by the media). We also know that the major news outlets are all uninterested in the subjects that interest us. 

We’re stepping outside the strange bubble of corporate news—a bubble in which nonsense is simply repeated until it substitutes for truth despite never having been accepted as true. We hear the talking heads explain that Hillary will somehow make the world safer from terrorism by working diligently to promote the conditions in which terrorism thrives. We may not accept this lunacy ourselves, but we come away with the impression that somewhere out there, people do accept it.

No one accepts it—not after they cut the cord. 

And that’s a good thing. Those of us who can’t get mainstream coverage of the Sanders campaign end up watching great stuff like this on YouTube:

Instead of watching Sanders discuss important issues, those of you who are still stuck in the establishment media bubble will spend the early part of the week talking about such nothingburger material as how 1) Clinton struggled with a MetroCard while trying to board a New York subway (linked via FOX); 2) SNL did a slapsticky sketch about the incident (linked via CNN); and 3) Clinton jokingly blamed Mayor Bill de Blasio for this infrastructural failing of his city (linked via MSNBC).

It doesn’t matter whether this media narrative makes you think of Clinton negatively (“She’s clumsy!”) or positively (“I like a candidate who can chuckle at herself!”). Either way, the corporate tools will encourage you to spend time imagining that this subway nonsense is somehow relevant to the election in November. But it isn’t relevant, and its purpose is to be irrelevant. Stories like this are never about Clinton; they are always about ensuring that political discussion remains unrelated to matters of policy.

Cutting the cord means making this stuff painfully obvious to yourself and everyone you live with.

Try it. And please get the people you love in New York to try it before April 19th.

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