By MARC McDONALD
Once upon a time, it was easy to be a GOP propagandist.
Up until the mid-1990s, Republicans could spew out lies all day long and rarely had to worry about any watchdogs holding them accountable. Oh sure, there were a few obscure leftist print publications here and there, but they had tiny circulations and were often difficult to come by.
Back then, the GOP propagandists certainly didn't have to worry about the corporate mainstream media keeping them honest. Indeed, the likes of CNN, The Wall Street Journal, and even The New York Times were quite happy to carry the GOP's water.
With the dawn of the Web, it began to dawn on the GOP propagandists that they were no longer able to spew out lies without being challenged.
Suddenly, anyone could set up a Web site for relatively little cost and effort and instantly have a potential worldwide audience.
GOP propagandists like Rush Limbaugh and Bill O'Reilly soon discovered, to their horror, that they could no longer peddle their daily lies and bullshit and have no one to challenge them.
This, I believe, is the real reason that the likes of O'Reilly and Limbaugh have been attacking sites like Daily Kos and events like the latter's YearlyKos convention. And despite O'Reilly's boasts of success in countering Daily Kos, it's obvious that he is scared shitless these days (as evidenced by his hysterical, over-the-top denunciations of the site).
O'Reilly and Limbaugh and their ilk have found that everything they say these days is going to be picked apart, analyzed and fact-checked by the progressive Web. As a result, the GOP serial liars have been exposed for the frauds that they really are.
Watchdog sites like Media Matters terrify the GOP propagandists. The latter have discovered that once they tell a lie, it is promptly dissected and debunked and then lives forever on the Web---only a mouse click away for any truth seeker.
The old GOP propagandists' old tricks no longer work in cyberspace. No longer can GOP liars like Dick Cheney fall back on their usual tactics (like claiming they were misquoted). On today's Web, your words live forever in easy-to-access audio and video files that let people hear your actual quotes first-hand.
The dawn of the Web gave the ordinary people a voice that, for the first time in history, could potentially rival the traditional corporate media. Indeed, Daily Kos, with its millions of visitors, does rival the likes of Fox News in audience size. And YearlyKos sums up everything that the GOP/Fox News/Wingnut crowd hates about today's new era of media democracy.
However, the Web hasn't yet succeeded in ending ignorance in America. For every Daily Kos or BuzzFlash, there are wingnut sites that still spew out White House propaganda and talking points on a daily basis. Unfortunately, the Web can transmit lies and ignorance just as quickly as it sends out the truth.
But on the whole, the Web has been a boon for those of us who've long been disappointed in the failure of the corporate MSM to bring the truth to the people. As long as the progressive Web is around, the GOP propagandists will no longer have a stranglehold on the nation's political discourse, as they did as recently as the mid-1990s.
Which bring me to a final point: how long can this golden age last? I've never been one for conspiracy theories. But I just can't believe that the nation's ruling elite are going to allow this state of affairs to continue forever.
People like George W. Bush and his billionaire allies have utter contempt for democracy and a truly free exchange of ideas. No doubt, at some point, they will attempt to crack down on the progressive Web. I suspect they'll even give this crackdown a friendly-sounding, market-tested Orwellian name like "The Internet Freedom Act."
But until that day comes, let's enjoy the likes of Daily Kos, Progressive Daily Beacon, BuzzFlash, Crooks and Liars, OpEdNews.com and the rest of the progressive Web, which have ushered in a Golden Era of truth in America.
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