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The Left Will Never Thrive Without Its Own Smart, Entertaining and Well-Funded Media Organization

A Commentary By Ted Rall

Friday, October 26, 2018

The U.S. occupation of Afghanistan is in its 17th year, with no end in sight. The U.S. has killed 1 million Iraqis over the last 15 years. We're killing Syrians, Yemenis and Somalis. None of the victims threatened us.   

And now 20 military veterans and active-duty personnel commit suicide each day.   

Militarism is a gruesome sickness. Some people are trying to cure our country of this cancer. But pacifists are fighting an uphill battle.   

On Sunday, Oct. 23, "About 1,500 women and allied men marched on the Pentagon ... to demand an end to perpetual war and the funding of education, health care and other social needs instead," reported Joe Lauria of the progressive website Consortium News.   

Mainstream and corporate journalistic outlets memory-holed the event with a total media blackout.  

One commenter on Facebook bemoaned national priorities: What does it say that so few attended the Women's March on the Pentagon? More than 200,000 people crowded the Washington Mall for comedian Jon Stewart's inane 2010 "Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear," a parody of protest and by the definition of its organizers, an apolitical march for nothing.   

Cindy Sheehan, an activist who made national news by protesting her son's death in the Iraq War at George W. Bush's Texas ranch, responded on Facebook that people should show up rather than sit at home criticizing those who did.   

But apathy and laziness aren't the main causes of low attendance at real, bona-fide left protests and demonstrations (as opposed to coopted-by-the-Democratic Party marches like the annual Jan. 20 Women's Marches against Trump).   

Our problem is that there isn't a real, bona-fide left journalism outlet in the United States.  

One that's smart, i.e., well-managed. Not in the leaderless consensus style that destroyed the Occupy movement, but top-down by brilliant Machiavellian can't-be-bought leftist schemers who know how to motivate and build an organization.  

One that's well-funded. Not by some control-freak billionaire who can petulantly renege on his big promises after he loses interest or gets corrupted, but by generous ongoing crowdsourcing that guarantees editorial independence to an uncompromisingly left-wing team of editors with big budgets to hire skilled investigative reporters, back out-of-the-box journalists, humorists and editorialists. Give me $50 million a year (I wonder if the person who won the $1.6 billion MegaMillions lottery is progressive) and I could build and run an operation that could change the world. It's not impossible: Bernie Sanders raised $100 million from small donors in one year.   

One that's entertaining. The way Fox News and Rush Limbaugh are entertaining but MSNBC and Air America aren't. Because humor and entertainment are what attract new readers, listeners and watchers and keep loyalists coming back.  

I only heard about the Women's March on the Pentagon one day prior. It was by happenstance. (I live in New York, six hours from D.C. But like most people, I can't just drop everything and skip town with a night's notice.) 

That's ridiculous.   

I've been a leftie cartoonist and columnist for nearly three decades. Yet I have rarely received emails from left-leaning organizations inviting me to publicize or attend or cover a protest demonstration. I've asked other pundits; they never hear from the left either.   

Meanwhile, I'm constantly getting talking point lists, action memos, press releases and all sorts of sundry propaganda from right-wing organizations as well as the mainline Republican and Democratic party apparatuses. But that all gets ample coverage on cable news, network news, talk radio, NPR, newspapers and news websites, not to mention social media.   

My leftism-free inbox is a barometer of the state of the left: disorganized, disconnected and incapable of broadcasting its message. If a protest march falls in the woods -- or on the Washington Mall -- does it make a sound? Not if the word doesn't get out. Not if no one reports on it.   

Grassroots organizing will never build into 1960s-level mass demonstrations without big, rich, smart, cool media distribution channels to give it space to breathe and expand.   

First, we need a huge left-wing media group to educate people about what's going on. You can't expect people to get riled up about what the U.S. is doing in Yemen if they don't know what's going on there.   

Second, to redefine what's "normal." In the current media landscape, opposing war is abnormal. When's the last time, during a foreign policy crisis, that a mainstream pundit suggested the U.S. simply stay out of it?   

Third, to showcase activism and direct action as feasible, fun and effective. 1,500 people is a bit depressing if you drove hundreds of miles to attend a national protest demonstration. Movement-based media could get more people to rallies and create real political pressure on the powers that be.   

In the 1960s, the corporate mainstream media allowed anti-war, pro-civil rights and other anti-establishment journalists and pundits to disseminate their views on TV, on the opinion pages of major newspapers and in best-selling books. And they covered protests.   

No more. The left has been ruthlessly purged.   

Not one opinion writer or staff columnist or cartoonist employed by an American newspaper is a real, bona-fide leftist. Not one supported Bernie Sanders during the 2016 primaries. Not one TV or major radio talk show host is a real, bona-fide leftist. The same goes for "liberal" outlets like The Atlantic, Salon and Slate.   

It's censorship. It's systemic. And it's killing the left.   

Considering it's impossible for the left to get coverage on anything, it's a miracle that 1,500 people showed up for the Women's March on the Pentagon. There could easily have been 150,000 or 1.5 million.   

Ted Rall, the political cartoonist, columnist and graphic novelist, is the author of "Francis: The People's Pope." He is on Twitter @tedrall. You can support Ted's hard-hitting political cartoons and columns and see his work first by sponsoring his work on Patreon.

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