FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

More Exposés, Less Action

by RALPH NADER

There must be reasons why people are weary of the flood of excellent documentary films, books and articles showing us what the corporate state – that is, the fusion of big business and government to constantly serve the former against the peoples’ interest – is doing to our beloved country.

We are in a golden age of exposés, detailed revelations about out-of-control polluters, corporate tax escapees, corruption of government, cheating of consumers, abandonment of workers, freezing or reduction of wages, and a general hijacking of America for perpetual wars, militarism and profiteering. Even from mainstream television, newspapers and magazines, these exposés pour out in numbers that far exceed our weakened democracy’s ability to respond.

Why does so little change when the truths, the facts and the grim realities are available on request? In the past more prosecutors, legislators, and regulators would be informed and goaded by exposés. The wider media would echo such responses which further encouraged these enforcers to challenge wrongdoing. A cycle of public agitation and official responses kept things moving.

But there were fewer exposés and therefore less information overload. Today, exposés are running into each other and receiving smaller audiences. The shrinking mass media does not give the authors and producers the time that was afforded their predecessors.

Nothing has replaced the Phil Donahue Show that reveled in showcasing injustices. The Today Show and Good Morning America have fewer authors on their stages. Charlie Rose is heavily into entertainers, favored columnist Tom Friedman, and business celebrities. Once welcoming radio talk show hosts are off the air, replaced by curled lip ideologues or soft, fluffy commentators. Local daily city television talk shows that made author tours successful and often would jump-start investigative reports are nearly extinct, replaced by syndicated programs featuring touchy-feely or sadomasochistic fare.

This new media landscape is more hostile to the civic community and discourages the younger generation from believing that change is truly within our grasp. As the years pass, our examples of national re-directions, as if people matter, come from the 1960s and ’70s. There are dwindling illustrations from more variously-troubled, recent decades, even as the information revolution should have accelerated the pace of change.

There may be proportionately as much civic activism today, though the smaller marches and rallies and much less mass media coverage do not demonstrate that there is as much public protest. What is certain is that there are now far more problems, declines in livelihoods, and other deprivations and lockouts from participating in our legislative and executive governments and courts. It doesn’t help that there are far fewer differences between the two major parties and far more gridlocks, garnished by far more campaign cash, resulting in chronic avoidance or postponements of remedies.

Let’s go back to the exposés. What can documentary film makers, for example, do beyond putting out a fine product for theater audiences and DVD purchasers?

An ongoing development pushing the envelope toward change comes from Eugene Jarecki’s documentary “The House I Live In.” Saturating the country with his public and private showings, action meetings with prison wardens and lawmakers – urban and rural – and continuing media coverage, he seeks to make his film “a widely-recognized and galvanizing tool for a national rethinking of America’s drug control policies.” His two-year plan of coalition building and direct legislative pressure is breathtaking in its scope, depth, agility and strategic thinking (for more information visit the website here).

Mr. Jarecki is plowing new ground through relentless follow-through – an extension more authors, capable of doing so, should undertake. After all they have proven themselves as knowledgeable, interesting communicators.

Another contemporary documentary receiving serious follow-up by its production team is “The Invisible War” – the story of rape and other sexual assaults within the U.S. military. This film, directed and written by Kirby Dick, is being taken seriously by the Pentagon which is showing it to commanders and high-ranking military leaders. Attendance is often required thanks to a few enlisted commanders and constant prodding from the filmmakers.

Realistically, many reporters and producers are unable to pursue their findings into the realms of action. Often they are onto their next investigative project and are economically hard-pressed. Here is where some farseeing foundations or enlightened wealthy persons can make a difference by funding small civic groups taking the findings and recommendations into the public policy arenas backed by civic mobilization. After all, civic advocates have proven their worth over the long run.

Or existing groups, such as the anti-nuclear steadfast organizations – Beyond Nuclear and Nuclear Information and Resource Service (NIRS) – can be the beneficiaries of funders viewing documentaries such “Knocking on the Devil’s Door: Our Deadly Nuclear Legacy.”

Maybe we need a 24/7 documentary cable channel with a citizen action focus so that fortuitous rendezvous can occur among all these parties at any given time around the ticking clock.

Ralph Nader is a consumer advocate, lawyer and author of Only the Super-Rich Can Save Us! He is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion, published by AK Press. Hopeless is also available in a Kindle edition.

Ralph Nader is a consumer advocate, lawyer and author of Only the Super-Rich Can Save Us! 

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

December 08, 2016
John W. Whitehead
Power to the People: John Lennon’s Legacy Lives On
Mike Whitney
Rolling Back the Empire: Washington’s Proxy-Army Faces Decisive Defeat in Aleppo
Ellen Brown
“We’ll Look at Everything:” More Thoughts on Trump’s $1 Trillion Infrastructure Plan
John Stauber
The Rise and Fall of Obamacare: Will the Inside Story Ever be Told?
Ted Rall
Ameri-Splaining
Michael J. Sainato
Mainstream Media Continues Absolving Itself From Clinton, Trump Election Failures
Ralph Nader – Mark Green
Divest or Face Impeachment: an Open Letter to Donald Trump
Gareth Porter
US Airstrikes on Syrian Troops: Report Data Undermine Claim of “Mistake”
Martha Burke
What Trumponomics Means for Women
Ramzy Baroud
Fatah, Hold Your Applause: Palestinian Body Politic Rotten to the Core
Steve Horn
Jeff Sessions, Trump’s Attorney General Pick, Introduced First Bill Exempting Fracking from Drinking Water Rules
Joe Ware
The Big Shift: Why Banks Need to Stop Investing Our Money Into Fossil Fuels
Juliana Barnet
On the Ground at Standing Rock
Franklin Lamb
Aleppo Update: An Inspiring Return to the Bombed Out National Museum
Steve Kelly
Hidden Harmony: on the Perfection of Forests
December 07, 2016
Michael Schwalbe
What We Talk About When We Talk About Class
Karl Grossman
The Next Frontier: Trump and Space Weapons
Kenneth Surin
On Being Caught Speeding in Rural America
Chris Floyd
In Like Flynn: Blowback for Filth-Peddling Fascists
Serge Halimi
Trump, the Know-Nothing Victor
Paul DeRienzo
Flynn Flam: Neocon Ex-General to Be Trump’s National Security Advisor
Binoy Kampmark
Troubled Waters: Trump, Taiwan and Beijing
Tom Clifford
Trump and China: a Note From Beijing
Arnold August
Fidel’s Legacy to the World on Theory and Practice
Dave Lindorff
Is Trump’s Idea To Fix a ‘Rigged System’ by Appointing Crooks Who’ve Played It?
John Kirk
Cuba After Fidel
Jess Guh
Repeal of Affordable Care Act is Politics Playing with the Wellbeing of Americans
Eric Sommer
Team Trump: a Government of Generals and Billionaires
Lawrence Davidson
U.S. Reactions to the Death of Fidel Castro
John Garvey - Noel Ignatiev
Abolitionism: a Study Guide
Clancy Sigal
Caution: Conspiracy Theory Ahead!
December 06, 2016
Anthony DiMaggio
Post-Fact Politics: Reviewing the History of Fake News and Propaganda
Richard Moser
Standing Rock: Challenge to the Establishment, School for the Social Movements
Behrooz Ghamari Tabrizi
Warmongering 99 – Common Sense 0: the Senate’s Unanimous Renewal of Iran Sanctions Act
Norman Solomon
Media Complicity is Key to Blacklisting Websites
Michael J. Sainato
Elizabeth Warren’s Shameful Exploitation of Standing Rock Victory
David Rosen
State Power and Terror: From Wounded Knee to Standing Rock
Kim Ives
Deconstructing Another Right-Wing Victory in Haiti
Nile Bowie
South Korea’s Presidency On A Knife-Edge
Mateo Pimentel
Some Notes and a Song for Standing Rock
CJ Hopkins
Manufacturing Normality
Bill Fletcher Jr – Bob Wing
Fighting Back Against the White Revolt of 2016
Peter Lee
Is America Ready for a War on White Privilege?
Pepe Escobar
The Rules of the (Trump) Game
W. T. Whitney
No Peace Yet in Colombia Despite War’s End
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail