USA Today and the Meaning of Dissent

USA Today had a remarkable headline (4/29/09) on a story about Pennsylvania’s Sen. Arlen Specter switching from the Republican to the Democratic Party:

Leaving GOP, Specter Gives Dems a Boost in Stifling Dissent

The headline writer does not seem to understand the meaning of the word “dissent,” which is the expression of opposition to reigning policies, not the ability to prevent policies from being enacted even when they’re supported by a majority of elected representatives.

This same misunderstanding is found in the article itself, which reports, “As a minority in the House and without the votes to filibuster the Senate, Republicans would find it harder to block Democratic initiatives or even be heard.” Actually, each side does get a chance to debate in the Senate, even if there is no filibuster; if corporate media won’t cover the views of elected critics who don’t have the power to block legislation, that would seem to be a problem of–well, of a media that doesn’t understand what “dissent” means.

About Jim Naureckas

Extra! Magazine Editor Since 1990, Jim Naureckas has been the editor of Extra!, FAIR's monthly journal of media criticism. He is the co-author of The Way Things Aren't: Rush Limbaugh's Reign of Error, and co-editor of The FAIR Reader: An Extra! Review of Press and Politics in the '90s. He is also the co-manager of FAIR's website. He has worked as an investigative reporter for the newspaper In These Times, where he covered the Iran-Contra scandal, and was managing editor of the Washington Report on the Hemisphere, a newsletter on Latin America. Jim was born in Libertyville, Illinois, in 1964, and graduated from Stanford University in 1985 with a bachelor's degree in political science. Since 1997 he has been married to Janine Jackson, FAIR's program director. You can follow Jim on Twitter at @JNaureckas.