Waking up America requires first waking up the media

“Wake up, America! Wake up!” John Lewis shouted at the 1963 March on Washington.

That message is very important today, in the final stages of the most difficult decision to survive the American experiment since 1864. What was at stake at that time, in the war to end the rebellion of the slaves, was, as Lincoln said. two years before, either “we shall save with dignity, or lose the best hope of the Earth.”

These words clearly describe the situation we were in after almost 160 years. Today, the future of America depends on the defeat of the dictators who have taken the name of the party of Lincoln. If we lose, media organizations and journalists with the wrong idea of ​​”stability,” “neutrality” and “non-partisanship” will have a big problem.

Awakening the American people requires awakening the media first.

The country is in a crisis that needs journalists and the companies that employ them to separate patriotism from politics. “Equality and democracy are under attack,” President Joe Biden warned on Sept. 1.

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Since then, the dangers have become more apparent, with right-wing politicians promoting a “religion of violence,” “election watchers” dressed to intimidate voters, widespread anti-Semitic violence, and attacks on Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s husband. a man obsessed with fake news, who is now facing charges of attempted murder and robbery. It reminds us more and more of the wars that took place before Hitler came to power in Germany.

The inflexibility of the media continues to treat politics as a game. The opposing parties are treated as racehorses or factions, and most reports are about where they are in the horse race, how many games they are ahead of or behind them, rather than on their beliefs and what their gains in power might mean. the world. Even the Daily Kos progressive website lists “Team Red” and “Team Blue,” making it look like just a game.

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On Election Day, Americans must realize that the struggle we face is not just a game. If the Democrats win and control every house of Congress in the middle, there will be no “wait until next year.” They would probably refuse to accept the Democratic presidential nomination in 2024. The game could be over, if not, for years.

Instead, MAGA candidates, who embrace and promote Donald Trump’s Big Lie, are now refusing to say they will accept the election if he loses. It is irresponsible in this time of crisis to continue pretending that the two parties competing in the election are the same in their commitment to democracy or simply have different approaches to policy questions. It is the fault of the media to call right-wing extremists with the non-threatening term “conservatives”.

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The media should strive to be objective. But this does not mean treating unequal parts equally. When one side is wrong, lies, and is so dangerous, being objective is needed to constantly explain these facts.

Journalists have a responsibility to be democratic, truthful and law-abiding. Instead of doing the obvious and simple things – constantly talking about horse racing – they should spend more time explaining and showing people where each “horse” wants to take its riders, the American people.

Robert S. McElvaine teaches history at Millsaps College. He is the author, most recently, of “The Times They Were a-Changin’ – 1964: The Year The Sixties Came and Today’s Wars Were Recorded.” ©2022 Los Angeles Times. Published by Tribune Content Agency.


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