Charitably put (see for yourselves), the interview that followed was a shameless example of what passes for journalism on American tv, in other words, little but thinly veiled pro-status quo propaganda
MSNBC’s new fiery TV host, Dylan Ratigan, formerly a jock on sister business network CNBC, is hard to classify. Judging from his frequent castigations of Wall Street big whigs, the Tea Party loonies, and other rightwing franchises, one might be justified to think Ratigan is “a man of the people.” But wait. He also tacks right so often that his sallies in that direction might reasonably qualify him as a right-wing populist.
Whatever Ratigan really is, a decisive clue to his true political identity was offered on June 22 (2010), when Ratigan invited none other than Louisiana’s Sen. Mary Landrieu, as corrupt a Southern politico (Democratic division, by the way) as you’re likely to find; an outspoken supporter of “Drill, Baby, drill!”, and a confirmed recipient of oil industry largesse, to discuss whether offshore drilling should be resumed as ordered by an obliging (and highly compromised) Louisiana judge, who just happened to have significant equity on Transocean, Halliburton and other major players in the oil disaster.
Charitably put (see for yourselves), the interview that followed was a shameless example of what passes for journalism on American tv, in other words, little but thinly veiled pro-status quo propaganda.
At the beginning of the segment, and apparently warming up to the program’s topic, the fire-breathing Ratigan suddenly turned into a mushy, softhearted workerist, brandishing high the banner of “JOBS!” to justify a prompt resumption of offshore drilling anywhere in the Gulf. Mmm.
The “jobs defense” as I have argued elsewhere, an argument utilized by Judge Feldman* to stop the moratorium, is an old ruse, the sacred crucifix whipped out by all sorts of industries that exploit and destroy the environment with abandon to blunt the attacks by the “ghouls” of environmentalism. It is certainly no coincidence that the oil industry mouthpieces wasted no time in applauding the court decision lifting the supposedly tyrannical moratorium. (The Obama team—acting more out of self-respect and sensing political embarrassment— promised to appeal, but the response was weak and typically lacked conviction.)
Ratigan’s platitudes were warmly received by Landrieu, who was certainly aware —and grateful—that she was upon friendly ground. The audience was soon treated to her usual litany of phony excuses for allowing the oil industry to continue operating pretty much as usual, all in the name of sparing “hardship”, of course, for those poor folks in the Gulf whom she so compassionately and selflessly represents.
A shill by any other name
That’s what money buys, boys and girls, but while we’re on this topic what really gets my goat is that, as we have said many times in these pages, American politicians come cheap. They are really cheap whores when you stop to look at what business pays them to tilt against the people (no offense to real working girls, who, though I have no use for their services, hold in high esteem since they perform a valuable and often risky service). Landrieu (right >>>), who’s very good at posturing, like most professional politicos, and who hails from a Louisiana dynasty with a long record of betrayal of the public interest, already showed what she’s made of during the Katrina debacle, when she was nowhere to be found when her exalted agency might have counted for something.
Unfortunately, as far as the oil drilling madness goes in this nation—an abetted madness, at that—the transparently venal Landrieu is far from alone. Literally droves of fellow politicians (from both sides of the aisle), pathetic creatures like the hypocritical “values man” David Vitter; the troglodytic Jim Inhofe, Joe Boehner, Mitch McConnell, Bobby Jindal, Haley Barbour, the notorious Joe Barton (who almost gave the game away with his “apology to BP” during the Hayward hearings), and many others, openly share her “convictions” and remain beholden to the moneyed interests that direct their actions.
But I digress. I started this note to inquire into the nature of Ratigan’s political identity. The impression I’ve gathered is that Ratigan, for all his tough talk, when push comes to shove is simply 100% establishmentarian. A corporate pussy. OK, this is not an earth-shattering discovery. What else could we expect from a guy who works on the mainstream media? Certainly not Lenin on cable. But you’re entitled to know at least some of my rationales.
1. First, he chose Landrieu to present the case for drilling practically unopposed. Nay, worse than unopposed. In fact, Landrieu was aided all along by none other than the host, who cheerfully fed the guest no real questions, preferring instead to pelt her with soft balls, and that only after a mawkish introduction that tugged at the audience’s hearts in the name of the Gulf’s inhabitants, who are suffering now massive and sudden unemployment. This naturally made Landrieu’s task far easier.
2. If Ratigan DID NOT KNOW who Landrieu was, then he’s guilty of lazy, mediocre journalism. It’s hard to believe that a man who prides himself on being something of a political animal would miss the telltale signs branding Ms. Landrieu as a notorious shill for petroleum companies, among other corporate interests (most US politicians have a busy portfolio). It’s relatively easy to find that fact on the web, if you look, of course. And these guys have assistants, paid research assistants. An inexcusable exhibition by any standard.
Ratigan’s decrepit performance is one more reminder that mainstream media personnel—regardless of pretensions and conceits— can’t be trusted to present the people’s (and the ecoanimal) position with dependability and regularity. That will have to wait until the United States manages to develop a true alternative media system, which, perforce, implies a long and arduous struggle. Meanwhile, take Ratigan’s assertions with a huge lump of salt.
PATRICE GREANVILLE is founding editor of Cyrano’s Journal online, and chief editor of THE GREANVILLE POST.