Unpresidented. The Media and How They’re Spun


I’m very excited about all the new activists that this election has inspired. I love looking at photos from the marches, hearing their stories and knowing about the in-person connections made. I look forward to hearing and reading about their future successes on social media.

I want to help these new activists by connecting them with experienced activists and experts I know who kick ass. We can learn from them.

When thinking about activist actions I always want to know, “What was done in the past that worked?

What has to be done to make it work now? How do we go about doing that in our current environment?  

Video of aliens flying over a wall and
attacking the White House by Dan Mcenroe

My friend Cliff Schecter is starting a new podcast called An Unpresidented Podcast, Bigly that will be addressing some of these issues, especially as it concerns the media. The GoFund me link is here.

“Many of us have lamented the lack of progressive media infrastructure. I’ve given my all to combating this by founding (and partially funding) an independent, progressive radio station in Washington DC and going on independent radio and tv. With the election of Donald Trump, I feel I must do more. So I’m starting this podcast to take our message to an even wider audience.”

 During the Bush years Cliff was one of the people who got on the MSM and kicked GOP’s spokespersons’ asses. It is great fun to watch him do this here.  I would love to see more examples of that, not only with GOP shills but with our lame media. Remember what fun it was to watch Lauren Duca  knock the smirk off  Tucker Carlson’s face?

Cliff has been on the Majority Report with Sam Seder on Friday for years and he has helped me to make sense of the what and the why of what’s happening in the political world. I also am interested in the who and the how.

Cliff and I have mutual friends that we advise in the fight to reduce gun violence. Our friends at Nebraskans Against Gun Violence just had a success today in their continued vocal, actions against a pro-guns everywhere Republican Senator Bill Kintner. Today he announced his resignation. “Nebraska lawmaker quits after tweet about Women’s March protesters sparks outrage”

We have another mutual connection, some guy in a show that also has Star in the title, Mark Hamill.

Some guy with a history of making Star-series who is a fan of Schecter’s work

Hamill got to know Cliff after learning about his work reducing gun violence.  He then invited Cliff and his boys to the set of an upcoming Star Wars movie. (I’m not jealous or anything because I’m a Vulcan.)

So you got your Hollywood Celebrity acknowledging Cliff’s work against evil.  Sweet. Cliff was even able to get some stuff signed by Hamill for early donors for the podcast. Hamill even made some of his great voice work available (love him on The Flash!) Now Cliff might get some more — either in a contest or a super big donation — It depends on the demand. Personally I don’t care for any Star things with “Wars” in the title, but that’s me. Apparently from listening to Chris Hardwick  talk to Mr. Hamill on the Nerdist is that people like Hamill actually enjoy collect Star-things. )

I love new people getting involved in activism, but one of my frustrations is watching the “neutral” MSM and experts dismiss movement successes along the way. I want to help people learn how to counter it.  The good news is that social media is kicking the media’s ass in multiple ways: distribution, engagement and speed. But the MSM TV media still exists and is very important to people in power. 

As insightful media writer Matt Zoller Seitz said in The Vulture TV Podcast

“A television monster inhabits the White House and he continues to be financially entangled with the medium that gave birth to his Presidential candidacy.”

“He [Trump] is Television. ”

@mattzollerseitz On Donald Trump

Seitz uses a quote from Trump’s speech to the CIA.

I get up this morning and I turn on one of the networks and they show an empty field. I say, ‘wait a minute I made a speech. The field was, it looked like a million, a million and a half people.”

It’s important to note he didn’t say which one. He talks about what he saw  and how it didn’t jibe with his view of the world.   Trump wants MSM TV news to reflect back to him his reality.  He craves it. When the media don’t give him what he wants he can either revise his reality (HA!), or demand the people giving the information change.  One thing we can learn from this is that if you know what media your audience cares about, and consumes, you can focus on them.

We need to be better at getting our people on the TV with solid messages.  We still have a mewling “both sides do it” press. Waiting for the MSM journalists to stand up to him is going to take time. I’ve written before about how understanding how the MSM process works helps get your message across.

Over the years I’ve taught 100’s of very powerful and now famous people to talk to the media and to very specific audiences. I start by asking them “What do you actually, read, watch and listen to?” (vs what they think they are supposed to)  The answers have changed over the years from “The Journal, the local newspapers and the “trade rags.” to “My Twitter feed.” I then ask them to name actual publications or people that they look at vs. “all of them” This information is critical to know if you want to know how to reach them where they actual engage.

What people need to understand is that powerful people are much more excited to see their name mentioned favorably in the media they and their peers watch, read or respect. They will say, “I want to be in the Journal, above the fold” ( For you young people, being in the top half of a folded paper was like being in the 10 ten search results on Google.) This is why Trump dismisses Fox News as a slam dunk, it’s not a challenge.

Media venues that are seen as a “slam dunk” are taken for granted. (Note to progressive activists, you actually have a better chance doing well in a venue like Fox than on MSNBC.)

One thing that people don’t understand is how the MSM news and cable shows use surrogates to help them say what they feel they can’t. So, for example, producers showing their intent by using weak experts on a topic. That is why you didn’t see articulate, combative peace experts on the Sunday morning talk shows in the run up to the war. When they want to seem “fair and balanced” networks go to celebrities as experts to address an issue so they can later dismiss them. This is why Janeane Garofolo was on TV talking against the war in 2003.

The right understands this. That is why they created categories of “experts” from “think tanks” like the Heritage Foundation. Did you know that there are have 12 full time PR people pushing their views? They have a high end studio for guests and provide ongoing media training for their staff, book authors and experts. It has had a huge pay off. The Heritage Foundation people are now calling the shots in thousands of positions in the government. And when the right doesn’t have a single “celebrity” on their side they dismiss “celebrity” as non-important.

Sometimes you see someone from the left do really great and say, “Why can’t we have more of her on TV!”  It’s a good question. Because the odds are that if we loved her she won’t be asked back.  There a number of reasons this happens, and it can be explained and addressed. We can’t change the journalists quickly, but we can change who their guests.  To get “more if that” on TV we have to constantly be training and preparing people who are in position to speak.

These are just some of the issues I talked to Cliff about and he said he will cover on the podcast. I’m looking forward to hearing it.

In my century we don’t have the same need for money yours does. We also didn’t have nation states and billionaires funding the Klingons, Romulans and the “Providers.”  I don’t want to be a thrall — and surrender. I don’t think you do either.

So I’m putting my Quatloos on the people who are going to fight now and the ones who have shown us how to effectively fight in the past.

GoFundMe UnPresidented Podcast link

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