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How the “Know Nothing” Press Extended the Shutdown

(Image: Jared Rodriguez / Truthout)

The Tea Party radicals in Washington are blaming the “liberal” media to explain their sudden surrender in the government shutdown fight.

And, in a way, the Tea Partiers are right.

The media is to blame, but not for the reasons they think.

At a briefing on Wednesday, several House Tea Party conservatives lashed out at members of the press in attendance, in essence calling them liars.

Tea Party Congressman Raul Labrador of Idaho told reporters, “You guys in the media continued reporting that what the conservatives were asking for was the full repeal of Obamacare. That’s absolutely false.”

Labrador went on to say that, “Every time you [the media] write a story that Republicans and conservatives were unreasonable in asking for a complete repeal of Obamacare, you have actually been lying to the American people because that’s not what we were asking for.”

And Congressman Mick Mulvaney of South Carolina chimed in, saying that, “Has anybody seen the media person to ask a liberal Democrat why it’s okay to extend a delay to corporations and not individuals? I’ve seen it once. You know where I’ve seen it? Jon Stewart on Comedy Central. It’s the only time I’ve seen that question asked.”

While the Tea Partiers are blaming the “liberally biased” mainstream media for ending their shutdown showdown, the reality is that the shutdown never would have started, or at the very least have lasted over two weeks, if the media had actually done its job.

That’s because the corporate-controlled media repeatedly failed to tell the American people that there was ALWAYS a majority of votes in the Republican-controlled House to end the government shutdown, each and every day of that shutdown.

In the early days of the shutdown, John Boehner would stand in front of the cameras and say time after time that there weren’t enough votes to pass a “clean” spending bill to end the government shutdown.

Yet, 20 House Republicans were on record as saying that they would vote in favor of a clean CR, when all it would take to pass a clean CR was just 17 Republicans.

But rather than point out Boehner’s blatant lies, the mainstream media ran with them, helping to prolong the shutdown, and misinform the American people.

So what reason could the mainstream media possibly have for prolonging the government shutdown and prolonging the suffering of the American people?

Money. And lots of it.

Whenever there’s a spectacle in Washington, like the government shutdown, a majority of people tune in to the cable news networks for information, and cable news networks make a lot more money because of it.

If the media had told the whole story from day one, and everyone understood that John Boehner was the only thing stopping the government from functioning, he would have been forced to hold a vote on a clean CR on day one.

But that would have taken away millions of dollars in advertising profits from the corporatized media.

So, they milked the government shutdown for all it was worth, squeezing out every last penny of advertising money they could from the 16-day long shutdown.

But the media didn’t just lie to the American people about John Boehner in order to preserve profits.

They also perpetuated the Republican lie that President Obama was unwilling to negotiate, and unwilling to “come to the table.”

President Obama had nothing to with the fact that John Boehner was refusing to hold a vote on a clean CR to end the government shutdown.

But by placing blame on President Obama, the media added to the spectacle that was the government shutdown, which in turn added to the mountains of advertising revenue.

So when Raul Labrador and his Tea Party colleagues complain about the “liberally biased” media, they’re missing the bigger picture problem with the corporatized mainstream media in America.

Before Ronald Reagan stopped enforcing the Sherman Act in the media, and blew up the Fairness Doctrine, the press actually had to report the news. The boring, non-dramatized news.

And before Bill Clinton signed the Telecommunications Act of 1996, the press actually had to put straight-up news ahead of advertising profits.

They weren’t allowed to misinform and lie to the American people in order to rake in more revenue.

If the press wasn’t allowed to put profit ahead of public interest, there’s a very good chance the government shutdown never would have happened, and our economy wouldn’t have lost upwards of $24 billion dollars.

It’s time for us to consider breaking up the giant media monopolies, and going back to the pre-Reagan doctrine of programming in the public interest.

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