Sunday’s “Meet the Press” accomplished something I thought you could only see in religious cults and Womyn’s Studies classes: gathered five people together who completely, 100% agreed on a hot button political topic. The issue is outside money in politics. The five people gathered were all from the mainstream media. The 100% complete agreement boiled down to allowing only the mainstream media to spend unlimited corporate dollars to influence elections.
You can watch the video here. Here is the meat of it:
MSNBC’S LUKE RUSSERT: It’s wild, Chuck. Remarkably, you could pay for 80 British general election campaigns with what’s being spent on this year’s midterms alone. And there’s real concern about the role money is playing in our politics with some even going as far to argue our democracy is being bought and sold. …
NBC’S CHUCK TODD: Well, it’s mutual-assured destruction, is seems, Dan Balz. Let me show you this chart in this morning’s Des Moines Register. They listed all the different outside groups that have spent on behalf of Bruce Braley. I’ve got to scroll it. It’s that much here. And then here’s all the Joni Ernst groups. I’ve got to scroll it. I mean, there’s a dozen groups it seems on each side. But did you find and voters that, they hate the ads, but do they care about this outside money? Do they vote on it?
THE WAHINGTON POST’S DAN BALZ: No, they don’t vote on that. They hate the ads. They hate the amount of money that’s being spent. But it’s not a voting issue. And the interesting thing, Chuck, is I’m sure you’ve had the same experience. You’ve talked to the people who are helping to produce these ads. And they’re as sick of them as many of the people who are watching them. And you say, “Well, why are you doing it?” For the exact reason you said. We can’t afford not to because the other side’s doing it.
TODD: It’s totally so, it feels like the Cold War. I mean, it is a cold, political war, and we’re going down a road where we’re just, it’s going to destroy the two-party system if they’re not careful.
NEW YORK TIMES’ CAROLYN RYAN: And remember, one of the most interesting statistics that came out of this, and Nick Confessore had a story showing that most of the money, most of the advertising spending, is from groups that don’t really disclose their donors. So the original free-speech argument was, let’s list the caps. Let’s have contemporaneous disclosure. You’ll know where the money is coming from. That’s not the case at all.
TODD: Look, I think Nia, very quickly, but I think it’s going to drive good candidates from running.
THE WASHINGTON POST’S NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON: Yeah.
TODD: How do you run in this environment?
HENDERSON: Yeah, because the threshold for getting in there is so high now. I mean, you have Democrats that are complaining about it, but Democrats are pretty good at raising this money and coordinating a lot of these groups on the ground in these different states.
TODD: It’s unbelievable. Luke, nice work, scary work.
Mutual assured destruction!
The Cold War!
Kill the two-party system!
Scare away good candidates!
No outside opinion!
No alternative point of view!
The irony of this “Meet the Press” segment is how it perfectly makes the case in favor of allowing outside money in politics. The simple fact is that if we only allow media corporations to spend unlimited dollars to push an agenda (like an agenda opposing free speech), this is the kind of thing we are going to get: one monolithic mainstream media opinion. And anyone who wishes to use the same power of the airwaves to present the other side, will be legally barred from doing so.
Which, in case you’re wondering, is the very definition of fascism.
How much outside corporate money do you think the employers of these panelists — the New York Times, the Washington Post, NBC News, and MSNBC — spent this year to have an effect on the outcome of the midterm election?
For that matter, how much outside corporate money was spent to produce this one-sided “Meet the Press” segment pushing a political agenda against outside corporate money in politics?
As far as the panel’s concern that outside money will drive away good candidates, what about a “gotcha” 24/7 media that spent 6 months beating Mitt Romney up over his supposed gaffes, a 50 year-old haircut, and Todd Akin. What about a media obsessed with who’s up and who’s down as opposed to the economy? What about a media that’s a-okay with letting the IRS persecute the president’s political opposition.
My guess is that the media’s treatment of Sarah Palin alone has done more to scare off good candidates than anyone with the last name Koch.
To see members of the media, those who should be the vanguards of free speech, defame free speech in order to protect power (the two-party system) is troubling enough. To not invite anyone on to argue the other side of the issue is the best proof possible that the media is neither mature nor honest enough to have the political debate all to itself.
This is America, and in America George Soros and the brothers Koch have the same God-given free speech rights as MSNBC and the New York Times.
The media isn’t opposed to oligarchs; they love the oligarchs who pay their salary and keep them on the air raging against those other oligarchs. What the media opposes is competition. The want the power to set the agenda all to themselves.
John Nolte on Twitter @NolteNC