By Catherine Revland
On a recent trip to Italy, I got into political discussions (an old habit) with locals as well as tourists from all over the world. When people found out where I was from, their response was a near universal alarm over the presidential campaigns. “How could this happen in your country?” they wanted to know. Two frontrunners with the lowest approval ratings in U.S. history? A choice between a pro-fracking warmonger and a vulgar barbarian? I couldn’t offer a defense because I basically share their feelings, but I did tell them I supported Senator Bernie Sanders. “Never heard of him,” they said, which didn’t surprise me, seeing as how their main source of news about American politics is CNN.
Clearly, the Fourth Estate is no longer “the people’s watchdog,” mandated to serve the public by broadcasting the news our elected officials don’t want us to know. Instead, they are in the business of making piles of money. According to Lee Fang, an investigative journalist for The Intercept, an online publication, most of the $5 billion in campaign contributions amassed this year will be spent on television ads. This explains why media CEOs don’t give airtime to candidates who call for big changes in the status quo, and why I no longer have the stomach for watching news programs on TV (especially MSNBC, once my favorite go-to source for information).
When President Eisenhower gave his farewell address more than fifty years ago, he warned the nation about the rise of the military-industrial complex. Now we are faced with an even greater threat to our democracy—the military/industrial/media complex—and that is truly disturbing. Along with the bad news, however, there is the usual silver lining. A new “people’s watchdog,” electronic journalism and the independent press, is filling the information vacuum. When I need to find out what’s really happening, I go to my search engine and start clicking. By comparing stories on a number of progressive news outlets, I can get a pretty clear picture of what the corporate media doesn’t want me to know, especially about U.S. foreign policy. Here are some Internet sources I often turn to: Democracy Now, The Nation, The Guardian, Mother Jones, The Intercept, Investor’s Business Daily, Truthdig, Truthout, Common Dreams, CounterPunch, Global Witness, Solidarity, and Alternet. There are plenty more. Let’s face it; all journalists have a bias, because they’re human, but evidence-based news is out there. It just takes some effort to find it.