It's only unethical when it's called 'news'
Imagine an entire 24-hour cable news network devoted to political causes. Many of their employees are future and former candidates for president, giving them a national platform to reach potential voters.
Entire "movements" of political discourse are not only showcased -- they're even started on this news channel. Fundraising, the toughest part of running for political office, is made easier, streamlined by the on-air hosts of the news channel telling viewers to donate money to certain candidates.
World events shaping our culture are put into perspective by the personalities. The production value is as sharp as the agenda. Poignant scripts are followed religiously. Everyone at the network -- from the top anchor to the fill-in weekend guest -- plays ball. It's a machine: Well-oiled. Well-funded. For-profit. High-rated. Caffeinated. Influential.
Now imagine it's liberal.
Why doesn't the Left have a Fox News? Why isn't there a liberal version of political organizing on television? There are currently nine 24-hour news stations, so why isn't there one that's outright for progressives?
Progressives will say, "Because we're better than that." It's against journalistic ethics to be a news organization and endorse and raise funds for candidates. They point out how promoting talking points in lieu of actual reporting is propaganda. Liberals, they'll tell you, don't like propaganda -- they prefer nuance.
Conservatives will tell you all channels are liberal, and Fox News is "balance." They'll say it's not unethical for Fox News to prop up issues and candidates because they're told on Fox News the Left does the same thing. On Fox News (and only on Fox News) they and their viewers are the underdog. Their narrative is how they're so outnumbered by all the richie-rich powerful clandestine liberals that journalistic codes of conduct are beside the point. They're in war, and in war things like habeas corpus and ethics have to be sacrificed in order to win. Or really, survive -- in their version it's always a life and death struggle.
Over at MSNBC, Keith Olbermann was suspended for donating money without management permission to candidates he had on his show. Yes, the "liberal media" does stuff like that. A former president of MSNBC is reported to have said that he did not want MSNBC to be a "liberal answer to Fox News."
During Olbermann's brief suspension without pay, his colleague Rachel Maddow went on air and said, "Let this incident lay to rest forever the facile, never-true-anyway, bull-pucky, lazy conflation of Fox News and what the rest of us do for a living," she said. "They run as a political operation; we're not."
OK, fine. MSNBC isn't the liberal equivalent of Fox News. Why isn't there one?
The only thing unethical about Fox News is the calling themselves "news." Fox News is based on right-wing talk radio and no one ever calls that "news." It's like if the Christian Broadcasting Network kept their same programming but switched their name from "Network" to "News." They would suddenly be very objectionable from a journalistic integrity perspective. But as it is now, the CBN raises money and endorses causes, and no one bats an eye.
Other than the "news" moniker, Fox News is fine. They're for their side, compelling to their side and benefiting their side. Plus, they give the people what they want: entertainment.
So what is wrong with liberals doing the same thing? What's wrong with progressives having a channel based on the events of the day that is informative and amusing to other progressives?
The Left is always saying their main problem is with messaging -- not the lack of ideas, but the selling of ideas. The framing of the debate eludes the Left. Candidate Barack Obama was able to message and sell his ideas to the American public; therefore, he got elected. Then he started doing the job he ran for instead of still campaigning for the job he ran for. The "perpetual campaign" is the bane of modern American presidents. You'd think liberals and progressives now with a Democratic president in office would at least consider replicating a communication model that has proven to work.
Yes, I'm saying it: Liberals should mimic Fox News...in some ways. Be engaging, have a point of view, and tout progressive causes.
Just don't call it "news."
Tina Dupuy is an award-winning writer and the editorishbowlLA.com.