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Friday, October 24, 2008


I voted for Nader in '96-'04, and I think you're wrong about this. It seems much more likely to me that FAIR's lack of coverage since 2000 has just been a reflection of the impact of Nader's candidacies in '04 and '08. In 2000, he had a much greater impact -- and hence was covered more by ALL media, leading FAIR to have more opportunities to critique said media coverage.

This year, what media coverage of Nader is there to critique? I haven't seen any. As FAIR is a journalism watchdog, it would be pretty hard to write about something that's not even being covered -- other than to run an article like the one you mentioned about the lack of third-party coverage.

Nope, I don't think so. There wasn't a surge of Nader media coverage in 2000 that gave FAIR more of a handle for their stuff; just the opposite, in fact. If you look at the archived articles from 2000 about Nader, they were almost all focused on how Nader was being excluded from the debates, how his campaign wasn't being covered or was being covered with condescension, and so on. Any of those stories would have worked just as well (or better) in 2004. And generally speaking, the "story X deserves more coverage than it's getting" template is a FAIR staple—yet after 2000 they found no need to run those for Nader anymore. My impression was that they were perfectly happy with the coverage he was(n't) getting, or at least not willing to risk the outrage they'd get from some of their supporters if they mentioned him again.

So I'd say the numbers really do tell the story here. And going past the numbers, as a regular reader of all of FAIR's print and email output, I can tell you it was pretty clear that they were backing Nader in 2000 and just as clear that they'd gotten scared off and were pushing for a Kerry win in 2004. And this time around they seem downright enthusiastic in their defense of Obama.

Normon Solomon was an Obama delegate.

Yep, and in 2004 Jeff Cohen (FAIR's founder, and still a contributor) acted as a consultant to the Unity Campaign—a group whose sole purpose was to undermine Nader. I was always impressed with the Orwellian terminology there; "unity" ostensibly meant "united to beat Bush," but it was actually "unity against Nader":

The Unity Campaign is a successor campaign to RalphDontRun.net. ... Other projects of the Fund include DontVoteRalph.net, PollWatch04, and the “Ralph, Tell the Truth” internet petition drive.

That's why I've said I'll probably end up voting for Chelsea Clinton some day (and spending the rest of my life arguing how wise it was).

If they weren't offering criticism from a progressive viewpoint I wouldn't pay attention to them at all; it's not like the world needs another AIM.

Unlike AIM they're offering criticism from a truthful viewpoint.

It's not like Nader suddenly became so much less noteworthy after 2000

Boy are you clueless/intellectually dishonest. Nader's support dropped like a stone after 2000, and he was no longer running as the Green Party candidate.

I was always impressed with the Orwellian terminology there; "unity" ostensibly meant "united to beat Bush," but it was actually "unity against Nader":

They're purpose was to undermine Nader with the aim of preventing him from being a spoiler and having Bush win. (Of course, that wasn't enough to prevent Bush from winning.)

Ralph told Tim Russert: "If the Democrats can’t landslide the Republicans this year, they ought to just wrap up, close down, and emerge in a different form." Well, the landslide is coming.

Here's a clue for you, John: FAIR matters and has changed things. You, not so much.

The spoiler effect is vastly overrated. In the well-mobilized election drives, third and fourth party candidates increase overall turnout and dramatically increase turnout for the candidate whose constituents see the others as a threat. To aim at defeating a spoiler is, ironically, objectively pro-the other guy. Oh, the humanity! It sucks resources from the nominal beneficiary. It's a spirited defense of the status quo. To make such a basic mistake, based as it is on fundamentalist zero sum electoral theory, can hardly be called "making a difference". Not unless making a difference means making things harder to change. The "not so much" John offers is better than that. By far.

Ralph Nader has never held elective office.
He wants to start his career in government as the President.

This fact by itself is sufficient to show that he's not a serious candidate.

Add to that the fact that the man is such a poor leader, has so few of the character traits and interpersonal skills that enable political success, that he drives his allies and supporters crazy, drives them to set up splinter organizations not under Nader's aegis because they can't stand working with him or for him.

Nader has some great policy ideas, but he couldn't organize an office picnic.

It's open to question whether the extant system can be fixed from within. I doubt it. Structurally, it's designed for a certain kind of stability. The qualities to go against the tide created by that, consistently, are very rare. In the main, it is unreasonable to cultivate them and stick to them. But that's what Ralph has done, to his lasting credit and our lasting benefit. He's a difficult, stubborn man too, but that's nugatory. We're not electing a king and this is not a popularity contest (supposedly). The majority of the progressives keep getting suckered by brilliant, likable, completely treacherous neoliberals who put a nice sparkling shine on cementing worst policies. They do so in a palatable manner. They can organize an office picnic, as well as a perfectly targeted bombing campaign that completely destroys the civilian infrastructure of a small country. They can make sure no ants get at the lemonade, before rolling well-tailored sleeves to ensure the end of civil liberties and welfare as we knew them. But gosh darn it, people like them. That's good enough for a high school student council election, maybe. Although one could wish for an early education that took more of the real world into account.

FAIR's part of what I call the Outrage Industry, which has left and right wing branches, both devoted to maintaining a perpetual state of knickers in a wad.

They're just tiresome and add virtually nothing other than more shouting to the national discourse.

joel hanes: ...he drives his allies and supporters crazy, drives them to set up splinter organizations not under Nader's aegis because they can't stand working with him or for him.

One of the similarities I've found between Chomsky bashers and Nader bashers is the unerring ability to get the facts wrong. There are so many "splinter organizations" around Nader because his conscious (and explicit) strategy was not to have a monolithic organization that could be attacked and brought down for any single reason, like a corrupt leadership. So the groups didn't "splinter"; they were founded by Nader and then sent off to work on their own.

It's possible to disagree with Nader on any number of levels, but criticizing him for his shoddy organizing skills is like attacking Gandhi for his violent disposition, and it makes it clear that you're just venting irrational anger rather than offering an informed opinion.

Steve: I think FAIR does very important work; I'd just like to see them stick to their principles even (especially) when it's toughest.

Harold: The majority of the progressives keep getting suckered by brilliant, likable, completely treacherous neoliberals who put a nice sparkling shine on cementing worst policies.

And the rest are suckered into believing that any significant percentage of Obama voters will really act according to their advice that "The best way to avoid becoming disillusioned is to not have illusions in the first place."

I've also been a reader of FAIR the past eight years or so. Their approach has always struck me being as a reaction to mainstream media. I don't see much proactive in their coverage. That is why I wonder if their zero coverage of Nader not only reflects their lack of interest in him but also the overall lack of coverage Nader has received by corporate media.

Also, don't forget about the coverage [universally bad] given to Nader by The Nation [which caused me to cancel my subscription to that magazine].

When covering politicians, it is interesting to read what name a journalist or a magazine will use. We get Obama, McCain, Bush, Romney, etc. And we get Ralph and Hillary and Jesse {Jackson - remember him?}. I submit that when a politician is referred by their first name it is to insult them and show a lack of respect. It is a subtle dig, but a dig all the same.

Peter: Thanks for the comments. I wouldn't say it was a lack of coverage, because there was plenty of coverage of Nader in 2004 — most of it negative or dismissive, and advancing Democratic talking points (specifically the "Nader's taking GOP money" trope). Also, as I mentioned, most of FAIR's articles on Nader in 2000 were about the lack of coverage of his campaign or the fact that he was being excluded from the debates, and either of those would have applied just as well to 2004. If you follow the "2000" link you'll see the articles I'm talking about.

Totally agreed about the Nation. A dyed-in-the-wool Democrat friend asked me once if I read the Nation and I replied, "No, too conservative." Mostly for the fun of watching his eyes bug out, but I really did mean it....

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