We chat with Harold Meyerson, editor at large at The American Prospect, about the problems created by “Florida’s most powerful Democrat” living in New York (Michael Bloomberg). The Florida Democratic Party will soon be choosing a new party chair, and the mayor of Miami (Diaz) is a candidate. Bloomberg has offered the Florida party a lot of money if -- but only if -- they choose Mayor Diaz to be the next state party chair.
Aside from resurrecting the ugly optics of a “carpetbagger” telling Floridians how to run their politics, Bloomberg’s move brings an air of smarminess. The public already distrusts politicians and the political system. Democracy requires public discussion and free and independent voting, not another sordid display of buying and selling.
We also discuss the state of the two major parties. The two seem to represent two distinct and opposing groups of people, groups which get their news and information from distinct and one-sided silos, “socialize” (digitally) with like-minded “friends,” and refuse to listen to any other views. Even facts are deemed “fake news” if they don’t support the group’s world-view.
In recent years, the Republicans have learned how to better communicate a message that makes voters think their interests will be served by voting Republican. But the Democrats have still not learned how to write a message and communicate in a way that leads the average voter to feel heard, to believe that their needs will be served if they vote for the Democrat. Will the Biden administration learn these lessons?
Can journalism be saved?
We speak with Paul Glastris, editor-in-chief of the Washington Monthly, about the demise of local journalism and the concomitant deterioration in the quality and reliability of media coverage in general.
The extreme partisanship from which we are now suffering is the result, in part, of the decimation of local news coverage. In the past, voters followed their local news media. Local reporters – who understood local needs, issues and concerns – would ask the community’s legislators about the things that mattered most to their constituents. Then the local media would inform the community about what their representatives were doing to try to help them.
Now that local news outlets have disappeared, they have been supplanted by national media networks which present the same limited narrative to Americans all across the country. So the voters back home know only that their representatives are members of the red team or the blue team; and what voters know about each team is only that “my” team is good and does everything right and the “other” team is evil incarnate trying to undermine everything we believe in. The partisan divide is the only thing we know.
We have allowed this to happen, so what can we do now to “fix” it? Glastis proposes a decentralized system which allows choice and local control. This would include a tax credit for money people donate to local media – defined as media whose coverage contains at least 50% local news. He would also require the mega-outlets like Google and Facebook to change their business model, to end their profiteering from selling people’s personal information to advertisers. Pres. Biden could enforce our existing antitrust laws to make this happen. He wouldn’t even have to try to get Congress – and especially Mitch McConnell and his cronies – to consent to these actions.