Leave it to Comedy Central -- this time Stephen Colbert -- to do the traditional media's job in exposing the fanatical charlatans like Glenn Beck, just as Jon Stewart masterfully dismantled CNBC last month:
Have you thought about how amazing it is that a great deal of the recent turnaround in America's political fortunes over the past five years, and leading up to Barack Obama's candidacy, can be traced to the exceptionally effective work of...two comedians (Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert), a former sportscaster (Keith Olbermann), a former right-wing journalist (David Brock), a former Republican activist and author (Arianna Huffington), a dedicated group of Iraq and Afghanistan War veterans (Jon Soltz, Paul Reickhoff, Brandon Friedman), a number of former Republican White House officials (Richard Clarke, John Dean), a group of fearless bloggers (Markos Moulitsas, Josh Marshall), two unsuccessful presidential candidates (Howard Dean and Wes Clark), a number of very committed activist groups (CREW, Center for American Progress, MoveOn, Sunlight Foundation), and the man who should have been president (Al Gore)?
It was only through their efforts that we learned of, and then challenged, the true agenda (often illegal) of the Bush Administration, the feckless media who were too scared of challenging our government, and an uninspiring Democratic Party that was too nervous about pissing-off its big donors instead of looking out for rank-and-file Democrats. Only then were candidates like Barack Obama able to step onto the main stage, generate meaningful grassroots excitement and support, and hundreds of millions of dollars in small-dollar donations, and be able to win the presidency as well as electing an impressive group of Senators (like Jim Webb) and Representatives (too many to name) who have given us hope that we will get our country back on path sooner rather than later.
It's for this reason that I don't shed tears -- even though I really should -- when I see the implosion of the traditional media. Sadly, the number of lackluster reporters and editors and journalists are quickly overshadowing the truly fine ones while casting a pall over the whole field to the point where we no longer trust the media to be the relentless watchdog they once were. Sadly, instead of cultivating more journalists like Bill Moyers we're forced to accept the tabloid hackery of Politico, not to mention the propaganda outfits like Fox News, or those entities which happily promote its never-ending, self-serving conflicts of interest like CNBC.
Instead, I'm truly grateful that we've had this organic uprising of the most unlikely and unconnected people, who began their work outside the formal political and media establishments, who have provided the desperately needed leadership to stop our country's slide into damaging right-wing orthodoxy and hypocrisy, and allow us to begin the process of fixing the horrific damage they have caused -- domestically and internationally -- and restoring America's role as a moral leader of the world and a country that tries to lead by example.
We've got a long, long way to go, but I'm often reminded -- like with Colbert's incredible takedown of the clownish Glenn Beck and the election of Barack Obama -- that we're making real progress.