Progressive Pundits

Posted on August 13, 2011 by

Just ten years ago, before the blogosphere exploded and MSNBC tacked left, there was a relentless crusade about the lack of progressive voices in the media. 

A watchdog group called FAIR [Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting], carefully documented how mainstream broadcast media was dominated by far-right to center-right opinion. 

That’s obviously changed.

Now there are articulate and persuasive progressives all over the place (particularly if you’re looking for them): 

Mother Jones’ David Corn, Salon’s Joan Walsh, The Nation’s Katrina vanden Heuvel and some new up-and-comers like Princeton’s Melissa Harris-Perry

Many fine writers and thinkers such as Chris Hedges, Eric Alterman and Robert Kuttner tend to limit their high-profile exposure (unless you watch C-Span) while others soak up a lot of attention. 

Personally, I’ve seen enough of Robert Reich (who despite what he wants you to think was a constant source of frustration to union leaders when he was Clinton’s labor secretary), and Al Sharpton (whose antics in NYC in the 1980’s permanently tarnish his standing). 

My larger point, however, is that – to some extent – FAIR and the progressives got what we wanted.  The American left is no longer hidden away. 

Though we’re now in the mix, the “national narrative” still seems to be under the control of other not-so-mysterious forces.

As always, we make our biggest splash when we criticize our president and his allies and then threaten to bolt from the democratic party. 

I’m not suggesting, of course, that we even consider doing this in 2012, but can you think of a better way to generate attention and gain leverage?

Comments (5)


  1. carlos says:

    Here, here! Ed Schultz and the MSNBC crew did a great job on the Wisconsin issue.

  2. Oddly enough, at the Joe Hill Labor Achievement awards this year, one of he Australian truck drivers said we had to change the “narrative”, in reference to Labor’s voice in the general culture.
    It’s rare to hear such language in a conversation.

  3. les aaron says:

    the writers and thinkers have an opportunity to change the dynamic; we need to keep at it and bring back the America
    we love and respect!

  4. Greg II says:

    It’s as simple as developing our own message. The Republican’s have a base that is organized and guides them. They lead the conversation and their electeds follow. We wait for our leaders to lead. And they do. But when the voices of opposition are louder than the voices of support, what is to be expected? We get mired in minutia of what ever it is not being enough rather than acknowledging that progress is progress. Right, Health care wasn’t everything. It was, however, progress. We didn’t acknowledge that. It’s as much on us as it is on any of the “leaders”

  5. Rod Bradley says:

    Greg is right, it is on us. But “labor” itself must be re-defined, and broadened of it will be increasingly marginalized. I have in my time worked as a field hand, worked in factories, worked as a “business” cleaning houses, worked as a free-lance cameraman (professional labor), sold work on the streets, etc. All as a “worker” — trying to make a living.

    I would like our idea of labor to broaden to include individuals who “do things” — fix things — create things. In an increasingly fragmented world, unions are going to be come increasingly rare and they way they have been organized in this country, frankly, is an invitation to corruption.

    Forget the democratic party that once actually cared about the little guy. That’s gone. Clinton and the DLC saw to that. It was all about money. The words of Rahm Emanuel, Obama’s right hand man, said it all: “f…. unions” — .

    The democratic party is, for the most part, a group of elite patricians who will dismantle and exploit the little guy more gradually with a kinder gentler hand than the Republicans. But look at reality. The Chinese are investing 20 per cent of GDP in taxes and investing it, not in subsidies for Wall Street and huge corporations, but in their infrastructure and education and now in their safety net system, will we are down to less than 5% of our taxes in investments.

    The “little guy” — the worker, the maker, the doer — whether he is “labor” or “small business” or individual entrepreneur with venture capital other than his imagination, simply does not count.

    To believe that the progressive voices are preaching to anyone but the choir, is delusional. Without some serious in the streets work and some serious threat to the “great compromiser” (and non-communicator of anything but the obvious) — it will be slow death for the little guy with the democrats compromising with a smile and a hands up shrug “what could we do” — we need a new party. A party of common sense. With guys like Bernie Sanders leading the way. .

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