Dionne: Time to Stop Cowering Before Conservative Propaganda

Yesterday at WaPo, E.J. Dionne responded to the Shirley Sherrod fiasco with a blistering indictment of the mainstream media. It’s worth reading in full, but here are a couple of key passages:

The smearing of Shirley Sherrod ought to be a turning point in American politics. This is not, as the now-trivialized phrase has it, a “teachable moment.” It is a time for action.

The mainstream media and the Obama administration must stop cowering before a right wing that has persistently forced its propaganda to be accepted as news by convincing traditional journalists that “fairness” requires treating extremist rants as “one side of the story.” And there can be no more shilly-shallying about the fact that racial backlash politics is becoming an important component of the campaign against President Obama and against progressives in this year’s election.

*****

The traditional media are so petrified of being called “liberal” that they are prepared to allow the Breitbarts of the world to become their assignment editors. Mainstream journalists regularly criticize themselves for not jumping fast enough or high enough when the Fox crowd demands coverage of one of their attack lines.

*****

The Sherrod case should be the end of the line. If Obama hates the current media climate, he should stop overreacting to it. And the mainstream media should stop being afraid of insisting on the difference between news and propaganda.

Dionne is right, but — call me a cynic (or a realist) — don’t expect the non-conservative media to learn anything from this, let alone to change their ways. Fox, Breitbart, Limbaugh, and the rest will continue to terrorize them into submission and thereby to determine the dominant political narratives.

And the victims will continue to be the truth and the American people.

(Cross-posted from The Reaction.)