Over the years, media owners and editors have come up with different explanations for the lack of left or progressive voices across the media landscape. We're told those ideas are unpopular with the public, for example, or that leftists aren't as engaging or likeable as, say, Sean Hannity.
The new CNN President Jonathan Klein offered another theory during an appearance on PBS's Charlie Rose Show on March 25: Progressives aren't angry enough. When Rose asked if there could ever be a successful progressive version of Fox News Channel, Klein thought not. He explained that while Fox was tapping into a brand of "mostly angry white men" conservatism,
Does Klein really think progressives don't get too worked up about anything? If he does, that might be because he's watching too much CNN, where centrists are often booked to stand in for bona fide progressives. (See "I'm Not a Leftist, But I Play One on TV," Extra!, 9-10/04.)
But outside the CNN studios, evidence would suggest that progressives get plenty worked up. Internet organizing groups like MoveOn.org, which advocates against Bush administration policies, attract millions of members. Hundreds of thousands of Americans marched against the Iraq war, and the 2004 Republican convention in New York City provoked massive protests. The expansion of liberal talk radio network Air America, as well as the success of the Bush-bashing documentary Fahrenheit 9/11, would also seem to suggest that there's an audience for programming from a distinctly left-of-center perspective.
As for progressives being "pretty morally relativistic," Klein's insult seems misapplied. One could argue that it's the right and not the left that tends to see the killing of civilians as important only if the civilians are of the right nationality, for example, and thinks that torture may be acceptable if the right people are torturing.
Presenting a skewed political dialogue that underrepresents progressive points of view is bad enough; but Klein's explanation that progressives simply don't get "worked up" makes no sense whatsoever.
Tell CNN President Jonathan Klein that the notion that progressives don't get "worked up" is wrong-- and that if he'd allow genuine progressives on his network more often, he'd know that.
As always, please remember that your comments have more impact if you maintain a polite tone.