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Washington (CNSNews.com) - The author of a book denying the existence of a liberal media in America declared that the right wing media "machine" is now so powerful that it acts as "a steamroller" of liberal ideals.
Eric Alterman - author of What Liberal Media? - appeared at a workshop called "Reversing the Right's Hold on the Media" on the final day of the three-day "Take Back America" conference sponsored by the Campaign for America's Future, which states as its goal pushing the Democratic party to the left.
Alterman said the dominance of conservatives in the media is now so powerful that "it's a steamroller rolling over what is left of what we (liberals) believe and what we have worked for."
Alterman also credited organized and well-financed conservative organizations that mobilize the media when they feel their message is not being heard.
"Every time [conservatives] read anything they don't like, they are on the case of the media, they are working the reps, and they are saying, 'How dare you say that all homosexuals aren't going to hell?'"
A clearly frustrated Alterman told the audience that liberals "don't lack for sound facts; we really just lack the capacity to get the facts out there."
Alterman credited conservative philanthropist Richard Mellon Scaife for successfully pioneering the conservatives' takeover of the media in America.
"[Scaife's] message, the extremist right wing message, now governs from the White House and Congress and the Supreme Court," Alterman said.
Panelist Anita Drobny of AnShell Media said the conservative-dominated media in America is not informing America accurately.
"I listen to Canadian TV, I listen to Mexican, I listen to Germany, and oh my goodness, there was a different war that was going on in Iraq than the one I knew about," Drobny said to applause.
According to Drobny, there are "350 hours of right wing talk [radio], and there are five hours of 'other.'"
"Out of the five hours of 'other,' three hours is [Fox News's] Alan Colmes. What does that say to us? It frightened me," she added.
Panelist Dan Carol of the Carl/Trevelyan Strategy Group warned the liberal activists at the workshop that the left has a lot of work to do before it can challenge right wing media dominance.
"Even if we had a TV channel right now, I don't think we could fill it 24/7 with good programming," Carol said.
'Tribal drum for activists'
Alterman cited a New York Times report that indicated users of the conservative website Free Republic.com spend an average of more than five hours reading the site. That typifies the devotion of conservative activists, he said.
"They are not just masturbating in front of their computer screen, they are e-mailing their congressman, they are e-mailing letters to the editor, they are organizing gatherings, they are spreading rumors, getting stuff on Rush and Drudge that night," Alterman explained.
"It's a machine, and it works," he added.
The ubiquitous conservative media serves as a "tribal drum for activists who never leave" its confines, according to Alterman.
"You can watch Fox News, you can read the Washington Times, the Weekly Standard, the New York Post, Matt Drudge, Rush Limbaugh; it's a whole world view, and it's an energizing world view," he said.
The media dominance has dramatically impacted the political culture as well, according to Alterman.
"On most issues in the 2000 election, the nation was actually to the left of Al Gore," Alterman explained.
"Gore was forced to the center for the purpose of satisfying the New York Times and the Washington Post editorial boards," he added.
"There is no left anymore. The center has become the left, what used to be the right has become the center, and the cavemen are in the White House," Alterman said.
"The genuine left is not allowed into the room," he added.
Alterman took exception to Hilary Clinton's reference to a "vast right wing conspiracy" that she said was out to get her husband.
"I am angry at Hillary for using that word conspiracy. That's the wrong word," he told CNSNews.com.
"It's a right wing media, but it's no conspiracy. It's on 24 hours a day," he added.
Jesse Jackson, who gave the closing speech to the conference later in the day on Friday, also referenced the conservative influence in the media.
Jackson told his audience that they must "not stand silent and sit by and watch Fox TV, and [Bill] O'Reilly and Rush Limbaugh heap abuse on our sister [Democratic Minority Leader] Nancy Pelosi."
'What a joke'
Former Hollywood sex symbol Heather Thomas, on hand as a representative of the environmental group Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), mocked CNSNews.com for even raising the question of whether there is a liberal media in America.
"The media is completely right wing. What a joke! I can't even believe you are asking me that. Everybody knows that. The American people are not stupid," Thomas told CNSNews.com.
Thomas, who is most famous for her role as Lee Majors' sidekick in the 1980s TV program The Fall Guy, said the Bush administration controls the conservative media.
"They (the Bush administration) are crooks, and they control the media, so they basically lie, and people believe them because they don't hear any other message, and they don't hear any other voice," she explained.
Thomas said those who believe that there is a liberal media in America must have "been brainwashed by Rush Limbaugh or somebody."
The only way to combat the right wing media is for Americans "to get off their ass and learn the whole story," Thomas said.
Jackson, in his closing luncheon speech, stressed the importance of unifying behind the Democratic nominee in 2004 and gave a personal example of how difficult that sometimes can be.
Jackson detailed how in 1992, then-candidate Bill Clinton's staff "set me up for a deliberate snub at my convention, in the famous [rapper] Sister Souljah incident."
Just minutes after Jackson praised Souljah, Clinton, in a speech to Jackson's organization, implied that the rap singer was a racist for her lyrics advocating the killing of white people.
"In the aftermath of that insult, the media exalted in Clinton," Jackson said.
Jackson said that, because of his "bruised feelings," he pondered "exact[ing] payback (on Clinton) by entering the  presidential race as a fourth-party candidate."
But in the end, he took the "long view of what was good for our party and accepted Gov. Clinton's private apology and moved on," Jackson explained.
Running against Clinton would have given Jackson "some gratification, some vengeance, but it was not the mature thing to do. It ultimately would have hurt (the Democrats), so I took the hit," he said.
Gerald McEntee, president of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, told the crowd at the closing luncheon that the Bush administration had become so extreme, it made him long for the days of Ronald Reagan.
"Where are you now that we need you? We thought that the [Reagan] crowd was bad. This crowd is 10 times worse than even Ronald Reagan," McEntee said.
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