Comcast has joined forces with the Tea Party movement to form by airing “Right Network,” a television/web/phone venture that hopes to “entertain, engage, and enlighten Americans who are looking for content that reflects and reinforces their perspective and worldview.” (emphasis mine)
It’s all very exciting. Kelsey Grammer is a partner in the venture! Remember Frasier, you guys?
The operative word here is “reinforces.” Right Network is media built specifically for teabaggers. It exists not to inform, or encourage critical thinking, but to reassure far-right, fringe ideologies. Quite simply: it’s propaganda — and that fact is plainly stated in RN’s own preview document. (h/t Shoq)
On television, through partners including Comcast, RIGHTNETWORK delivers programming on demand that enables our audience to watch what they want, when they want. Everything Right, at the click of a remote. The lineup focuses on entertainment with Pro-America, Pro-Business, Pro-Military sensibilities — compelling content that inspires action, invites a response, and influence the national conversation.
As opposed to what? The mainstream media is already pro-America, pro-business, and pro-military, unless I’m missing a Burn The Flag, Marine-Shooting Cooperative network hidden between MSNBC and Comedy Central.
Fox, the mouthpiece of the GOP, is obviously as pro-America, pro-business, and pro-military as a network can get, but the other news networks, CNN and MSNBC, also share these qualities. All major networks are inherently pro-business because they are owned by larger corporations AKA “businesses.”
For example: MSNBC is part of NBC, which is owned by GE, which builds fighters, helicopters, nuclear weapons, and unmanned aircrafts. When your business is war, the incentive for peace is almost nonexistent, and the media underlings are unlikely to harbor the desire to ruffle the boss’s feathers by adopting an anti-war platform.
Unless, of course, peace becomes a valuable commodity. Back when peace was very “unhip,” Phil Donahue was promptly sacked from MSNBC in 2003 — not for burning the flag during a Communism-inspired rage — but because he was an opponent of the Iraq war.
During a time when the other networks couldn’t staple enough American flags to their sets, Donahue did the unthinkable — he questioned the actions of the government, something good journalists are always supposed to do, but nevermind. Donahue was “anti-American” and “anti-military,” and of course, “anti-business” because GE was/is making oodles of money from wartime weapons and contracts.
Now that the Iraq war is unpopular, MNBC has all kinds of friendly “liberal” faces, such as Rachel Maddow and Keith Olbermann — neither of whom are explicitly anti-war, nor anti-Capitalist pinko Communists. But they do represent the farthest the media is willing to wade into the “liberal pool.”
For these reasons, it’s redundant to call a new media outlet “pro-business” or “pro-military.” Now, if Frasier was launching something on an “anti-business, anti-military” platform, that’d really be news.
Nor was there a need for yet another conservative news niche. The right-wing Fox network is the highest rated basic cable channel in primetime, beating out ABC, CBS, and NBC. Limbaugh’s radio audience alone is around 20 million people. The Sunday Morning bobblehead shows are consistently dominated by Conservatives, the people normally associated with the “real America” i.e. business and military-loving patriots. And most recently, the teabaggers have enjoyed a level of media coverage anti-war protesters can only dream of.
The superfluousness of RN aside, the fact that Comcast is a partner in this venture should concern fans of real news. Comcast is set to merge with NBC even though this would be a huge blow to diversity in media. If the merger takes place, Comcast will gain control and access of news, online information, and cable television. The ideologies of such a corporation should interest every American, and by entering this partnership, it’s clear that Comcast’s leadership has a keen interest in the teabagger movement.
It’s very likely Comcast views RN as a smart investment*, and nothing more. Tea parties are “in” right now, so they’re profitable, and it behooves the company to get in on the action. That’s Rupert Murdoch’s old song and dance: it’s business, nothing personal. Even though the founder and president of Fox, Roger Ailes, a veteran of the Nixon and Reagan campaigns, worked for decades as a Republican operative in Washington, and shaped George H.W. Bush’s media strategy, the formation of a right-wing propaganda channel is just part of a business model. The fact that the craziness spouted 24/7 on his network ultimately gained credibility and permanently altered the political landscape of the country — in favor of right-wing ideology — is just an accidental byproduct of doing business.
Even Fox hides behind a small degree of shame: No, really, you guys! We’re fair AND balanced! Right Network is just the logical conclusion to an absurd equation first etched by Murdoch and Ailes. Take a huge corporation (Comcast,) add crazy (teabaggers,) subtract any shame that might inspire a network to report facts without spin, and watch the propaganda grow.
This time around, the agenda isn’t even hidden. RN exists only to reinforce a Pro-America, Pro-Business, Pro-Military agenda. And make no mistake: “Pro-America” has a very specific meaning. If you don’t believe the free market can cure all of society’s woes, but you do believe the government should help poor people, black people aren’t more likely to be poor because of laziness, and gays are human beings who should be treated as equal citizens, you’re probably part of the “anti-America” crowd.
It’s an old message, but now it has a powerful new platform. After each massive media merger like the planned Comcast-NBC wedding, the media pool shrinks. Not only do reporters lose jobs, but the media content becomes more homogenized. In other words, the teabaggers’ megaphone just got turned up courtesy of their partnership with Comcast, and should the Comcast-NBC merger occur, the noise will get even louder.
The FCC just extended the comment period for the Comcast-NBC merger. If you feel the urge, an anti-merger petition is located here.