Tuesday, September 20, 2011
Well, this is pretty much the least surprising news item ever.
The Huffington Post: Cenk Uygur Heading To Current TV/9.20.11
Here's the thing: I respect Cenk and what he's done with "The Young Turks" on the web and there are times when I definitely wonder if I was too hard on him during his short-lived run on MSNBC. I stand firmly behind the comments I made when he decided to go out in a blaze of glory at the network -- namely that while he had reason to hold his head high for sticking to his convictions, he really couldn't complain if MS thought he was too combative and not polished enough to be given a permanent high-profile slot, since both were absolutely true. But obviously, he had -- and has -- passion to spare, and that he deserves credit for.
That said, Uygur's constant hectoring of President Obama -- the pissy and bitter expressions of exasperated outrage and disappointment that have become his stock-in-trade -- diminishes a lot of the deference I'm willing to show him. What's interesting about Current's predictable decision to bring him on board is what it says about the network and about partisan news outlets in general.
Fox News came into being because Murdoch and Ailes felt like the right wasn't getting a fair shake and that they could both create an entire network around a conservative worldview and reap the rewards of broadcasting almost solely to that supposedly disenfranchised audience. It was always utter horseshit, but it worked beautifully; by stoking the fear, anger and paranoia of its core audience, it not only created a wildly successful programming model but it proved to that audience why Fox News was necessary in the first place, as a bulwark against the traditional liberal media onslaught. In other words, Fox just didn't think the mainstream media were conservative enough for it and its presumed audience, so it did something about it.
And now Current is apparently doing the same thing, just from the opposite side. The network is exploiting discontent with the traditional press, only it's saying that the mainstream isn't liberal enough and, more importantly, that it can't be fully trusted because it's under the control of a handful of corporate media behemoths. To some extent, I can't argue with this, but my concern is that those corporate media outlets -- the ones not Fox, of course -- are becoming the centrist players in the game. If Current's line-up were to turn into a sanctuary for only one point-of-view -- that of the perpetually unhappy "emo progs" -- then that standard of ideological purity will make the information it delivers somewhat suspect and ultimately divisive. Maybe I'm naive, but even in the face of a powerful adversary that's incredibly adept at coming together and staying on message, I have to believe that progressive politics these days needs to be inclusive of different, sometimes conflicting perspectives, and those include the ones in the center -- because right now the center is almost as far removed from the extremist Tea Party madness that's consumed the GOP as the avowed left.
If Current positions itself as the "liberal" alternative to Fox News -- which I'm hoping it isn't consciously doing -- then it's going to alienate the large audience that's as dedicated to progressive politics as somebody like Cenk Uygur but which, unlike him, chooses thoughtful, long-term strategy over blunt-force militancy.
It's sad when the much-maligned mainstream press starts to feel like it's at least more likely to give you several sides of a story than its fiercely independent counterparts.