An open letter to @maddow

Dear Rachel and company,

I’m catching your show on rerun, as I usually do because my kids are wreaking havoc during your live broadcast. I have two quick comments in response to your conversation tonight with Chris Hayes re: the magnified sense of importance granted to the Tea Party, particularly by the mainstream media, even as the Tea Party’s popular salience seemingly wains.

First, I think you may have overlooked one simple fact: the political economy of the mainstream media, which works in lockstep with the underwriters of the Tea Party. Yes, the news media should further the goals of our democracy, but as you have so eloquently and elegantly pointed out time and again, that is not always what happens. I am confident a review of the political economy of the news media, or the relationships between media and Tea Party ownership would be beneficial and instructive to this end.

Second, I think you perhaps unwittingly anticipated this point, and, more importantly, the more troublesome problem of the Tea Party’s ability to seemingly hold the mainstream media in its thrall. You discussed the feedback loop between conservative Congressional delegates and the Tea-Party-as-Republican-base, or, the fear that Republicans seem to have of a Tea Party backlash against moderate policy positions. I would argue that if we assume that the Tea Party is a massively orchestrated, propagandized manipulation of certain groups in the U.S. to further the power of a very small, very, very rich sector of society, and then factor in the political economy of the mainstream media…we can see just how pernicious, insidious, and very, very scary it is that the Tea Party has any power at all. From this perspective, Tea Party power, or even the allegations of their power through media representations of it that may or may not be at odds with actual manifestations of popular sentiment in accordance with Tea Party values, implicates so many sites and tentacles of political power in the U.S. that should scare the living daylights out of liberals invested in the work of furthering social justice and the most trenchant libertarians alike.

I think I may have nightmares about this tonight.


MaryAnn Martin


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