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How Liberals Censor Leftists
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Just a few decades ago, it was still possible for the left to find space on corporate-owned airwaves. Progressive talkers like Tom Leykis, Lynn Samuels and Phil Donahue found wide audiences until they got pushed off the air by the corporate powers that be. I worked talk radio in Los Angeles and San Francisco until 2007.

The same applies to print. Until the 1990s, the New York Times occasionally found space for the occasional progressive-minded op-ed; no more, not ever. A memorable turning point was former columnist Bob Herbert’s 2010 remembrance of radical historian Howard Zinn. Zinn’s passing, Herbert wrote about his friend, “should have drawn much more attention from a press corps that spends an inordinate amount of its time obsessing idiotically over the likes of Tiger Woods and John Edwards.” I was surprised that Zinn was friends with a prominent writer at the Times. The paper, Herbert included, rarely, if ever, mentioned him.

Between the warmongering and essays by torture apologists, there wasn’t space.

It’s their outlet, so it’s their rules. They don’t have to broadcast or publish anyone or anything they don’t like. Problem is, they don’t want anyone else to broadcast or publish anyone or anything they don’t like.

There are many shades of Republicanism but, for all the headline-grabbing scuffles between Liz Cheney and Donald Trump, the Republican Party remains a big tent embodied by the range of speakers at the Conservative Political Action Conference. Big-business Republicans such as Mitch McConnell and small-government libertarian Republicans such as Rand Paul refrain from criticizing the GOP’s allies on the far right, including white nationalists and other extremists whose ideas capture the imaginations of the rank-and-file, and whose raw numbers they need to win elections.

When an insurgent candidacy gathers momentum from outside the establishment, GOP leaders bow to the will of their voters, as when the California state party did — to the corporatists’ initial displeasure — when actor Arnold Schwarzenegger emerged as the front-runner in a state gubernatorial recall election. Of course, national officials have fallen in line behind Trump.

Top Democrats, on the other hand, would rather lose elections than yield control to their party’s progressive base. They deployed sleazy but legal tactics, as well as Richard Nixon-style dirty tricks, to block Bernie Sanders in consecutive sets of primaries even though polls consistently showed him to be the strongest candidate while their chosen nominee, Hillary Clinton, lost. Sanders remains one of the most popular politicians in America, yet party leaders and their media allies are still congratulating themselves for stopping him as they scramble for a viable presidential candidate for 2024: Joe Biden (going senile, approval rating 36%), Kamala Harris (unlikable, 26%) or maybe Pete Buttigieg (wet behind the ears, 37%).

Democrats want progressive votes but only for free, nothing owed, and then on sufferance. One of the main ways party leaders announce their contempt for progressives is to demonize and marginalize progressive pundits and commentators. While their framing often falls flat and they’re weak in negotiations with Republicans, the Democrats’ censorship of the left is ruthless and cunning.

Democrats represent half the country, and progressives represent half the Democrats. In other words, progressive Sanders/Elizabeth Warren/Squad voters account for roughly a quarter of the electorate. But these one out of four voters have only token representation among politicians and zero representation in mainstream media.

Anti-progressive censorship is so thorough that we had might as well be living in the Soviet Union. In the 2016 presidential primaries, only two major newspapers endorsed Sanders. None did in 2020. Sanders was blacklisted by cable news; MSNBC’s strict no-Bernie-coverage rule even led to the firing of a host, the late Ed Schultz. No major daily newspaper in the United States employs a progressive or other leftist on staff as an opinion columnist or editorial cartoonist — while hundreds of mainstream liberals and conservatives ply their trade.

Reveling in brazen hypocrisy, corporate Democrats censor progressives and other leftists who criticize them from their left flank — then they discredit them using a fiendish tactic: Guilt by forced association.

Since it’s impossible for a left-of-the-Democrats talk host to find work on either terrestrial or satellite radio or television, some manage to turn up either on foreign-owned or conservative media outlets that welcome criticism of the Democratic Party even if it comes from the left. And when they do, lefties get smacked down for the sin of trying to earn a living.

During the Bush years, English-language services of the Qatari-owned Al Jazeera website and cable TV provided a haven for Bush-bashers like yours truly, who by then had earned persona non grata status at places like CNN and MSNBC. Now, Russia’s RT and Sputnik News employ a roster of progressives exiled from the walled garden of mainstream media.

Having thoroughly silenced every progressive voice, Democrats and their media allies resort to absurd victim-blaming: How, they ask, dare they work for foreigners? Especially foreigners who aren’t aligned with the U.S. government?

Conservative news outlets such as The Wall Street Journal, Fox News and the New York Post give more space to progressives than do “liberal” media. The “enemy of my enemy” motivation is at work; if the left wants to beat up Democrats, who is the right to refuse? As a former frequent guest on Fox News, I took heat for legitimizing pigs like Sean Hannity and Bill O’Reilly. But I went on Fox because, for the left, it’s the only game in town. CNN or MSNBC won’t have us.


Nowadays, center-left liberals are beating up lawyer-turned-pundit Glenn Greenwald, known for the Edward Snowden revelations and cofounding The Intercept. (Disclosure: My admiration of Greenwald dissipated after he slithered out of covering the Los Angeles Times firing me as a favor to the LAPD. He couldn’t even be bothered to fart out a supportive tweet.) Greenwald has become a regular guest of Fox News’ Tucker Carlson. Criticism ranges from Greenwald being too chummy with Carlson to legitimizing him to actively promoting him.

I can’t argue with Greenwald’s defense. “I used to go on MSNBC all the time at the beginning of the Rachel Maddow Show because I would go on and bash Bush and Cheney and I would argue even in the early Obama years that Bush and Cheney ought to be prosecuted,” he points out. MSNBC’s invitations ended as Obama turned right and Greenwald went after him on the same set of principles. “I know that the reason I go on Fox is because Tucker has a story that he thinks … I’m an important piece of and can tell.”

As Greenwald says, “Every cable show uses people.”

If corporate liberal media outlets and their fans don’t want lefties like Greenwald to allow themselves to be “used” by Fox or Press TV or Al Jazeera, they can make it stop right now. All they have to do is invite us on.

• Category: Ideology • Tags: American Media, Censorship, The Left 
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  1. I just opened up the websites Unz Review and Tucker Carlson from my Startpage.

    How could you have disappeared?

  2. You don’t get it. The idiots on here think Democrats and progressives and leftists are all the same thing. In fact, they think corporate Democrats are raving Commies.

    Yes, they are that stupid.

  3. Once again, this NPR-level dimbulb applies the same shopworn labels to the same puppet politicians in what he naively thinks insightful ways.

    In other words, progressive Sanders/Elizabeth Warren/Squad voters account for roughly a quarter of the electorate. But these one out of four voters have only token representation among politicians and zero representation in mainstream media.

    Senator Warren has been sued by RFKJr and others for using her office to suppress free speech. Her shockingly clueless, pompous letter is readily available on the internet — even Mr. Rall might be able to find it if he leaves his Progressive echo chamber.

  4. I seldom agree with you but I’ll defend to the death your right to free speech!

  5. Obama turned right? You’re more laughable than the poorly drawn strip I used to see in the Athens News in Ohio.

    The idiots on here think Democrats and progressives and leftists are all the same thing.

    The three are practically the same. Yes, obwandiyag is too stupid to realize that.

  6. anaccount says:

    Who are the progressives now? Those are the ‘liberals’ described in your title. Leftists still believe in left wing or socialist economic policies. Progressives are either too stupid to understand economics or are too busy chopping their sons penis off. Of course, anyone can call themselves a progressive but that term is owned by corporations and the Democrat party. Not leftists.

  7. As Eldridge Cleaver noticed long ago (and I daresay it takes one to know one) the typical liberal is a mixture of jive and bulls*t. The elephant in the liberal living room has always been capitalism. An economic system whose sole object is the private accumulation of so-called surplus capital must always oppose genuine liberty and social justice; it endures by its consummate skill as a magician, captivating us with endless distractions in one hand while the other hand is picking our pockets. I see the current fad to somehow reshape this structure into one that will provide “equity” for all as controlled opposition, the Tea Party for wannabe (aka petit bourgeois) leftists whose smug elitism is all too obvious to those who do not share their delusions. This goes a long way to explaining why mainstream media and corporate America fawn over BLM, for one glaringly noticeable example, and establishment think tanks fund it so generously. Much better to split us up with identity politics, keep our minds off that deadly dangerous thing that used to be hailed as working class solidarity, because that will, as the old ad and Scott-Heron’s song go, put you in the driver’s seat.

  8. Not liberals but mandatorians, statists, Zionists, corporatists, elitists, globalists, and gangstoids.

  9. Rahan says:

    Perhaps the nationalists and the socialists should unite into some sort of movement in order to deal with the corporate plutocrats on both sides.

    No idea how such a political movement would be called though.

  10. Since the cabal rules, they’re cabalists, cabarals, or cabalniks.

  11. Since you are so concerned about censorship watch while a university tries to censor its students–“don’t talk about this to the media”.

    We need a new university “Free Speech Movement” today.

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