This summer’s Membership Drive is coming to a close soon. I’d be remiss if I didn’t share with you just how important the summer drive is: Firedoglake really needs your help. And, not to put too fine a point on it, but this country really needs Firedoglake’s help, too.
The progressive viewpoint in mass media is practically lost. We’ve got barely one television news network, some magazines, and a bunch of new media on the interwebs. But I noticed one thing about “our” cable news network last week. When the big stories at Firedoglake were Eric Schneiderman’s resistance to the dirty bankster deal most state Attorneys General are embracing and the Tar Sands Action protester arrests at the White House, I didn’t see a single story on MSNBC about the White House arrests, until Chris Hayes bucked sponsors’ presumed pressure and interviewed Bill McKibben at the end of his Last Word episode, substituting for Lawrence O’Donnell.
Alone among MSNBC hours that week, not one Exxon/Mobil warm and fuzzy “fracking is wonderful” commercial aired during that hour. Previously, viewers had been saturated with that pleasant male voice lulling us into complacency about how happy fracking makes happy communities, and the dulcet tones of the America’s Natural Gas lady with her promise of jobs and clean energy. They were both entirely missing, I recall, from that hour Chris Hayes told America about the arrests of more than 300 people at the White House that week.
And as far as the bankster deal went, I was startled by the first commercial of The Rachel Maddow Show, when the friendly announcer who usually reminds me about Cisco Telepresence intoned, “The Rachel Maddow Show is brought to you by Bank of America.” I may have heard such announcements before, but I frankly don’t recall any MSNBC news program hour being entirely sponsored by a financial corporation. Especially not the biggest one teetering on the brink of insolvency, pressuring for a Get Out of Jail Free Card for all its mortgage origination, packaging, and foreclosure fraud.
None of this, of course, may have had any influence on the choice of stories for any of “our” favorite liberal programming on MSNBC. I can’t prove it did. And the hosts will surely claim journalistic independence from their advertising departments. As they should.
But — you never really know, do you, what you’re missing as a consumer of news? You never are privy to the decisions about what to cover, what to ignore, what deserves focus, and what to let slide. None of us are in the story meetings.
That’s different here. When Firedoglake member survey responses showed that the planet’s warming was a primary concern, you saw a shift in our focus. We got involved with the Tar Sands protests, and our leadership got arrested and spent some jail time for exercising First Amendment rights on behalf of the rest of us. When our members asked for more involvement in LGBT rights, you saw us engage with Lt. Dan Choi over his fight against aggressive prosecution of his own White House protest against DADT. When you pushed us to continue our efforts to expose the foreclosure crisis, with stories of failure-to-assist, we responded. When members wanted Bradley Manning’s torture ended, Firedoglake acted.
When Firedoglake knuckles under to funder pressure, you’re the funders. It’s your desire for activism and sunlight that drives the organization, our writers and our activism. Yes, we pay attention to what our funders want and where they want our focus — but our members are our funders.
We’ll never have the resources of an MSNBC — we don’t have an attached global armaments dealer. We’ll never even have the resources of a Huffington Post — we don’t have the luxury of a cushy divorce settlement driving us into the arms of a soft and lazy internet provider.
But we have one luxury no one else has: we have the most committed membership and the most responsive organization. So get on board. Don’t let Firedoglake get left behind. More important, don’t get left behind yourself. Join us now.