Programming Note: Darts and Letters is off and retooling to relaunch in a new format early 2024.

EP38: Democracy Dies in Snarkness (ft. Michael Tracey & Robert McChesney)

You can’t have a functioning democracy without a trusted media. That fact explains the state of U.S. democracy, at least in part. The United States has the lowest rate of media trust in the industrialized world, with just under a third of respondents in a 2020 Reuters poll saying they trust the media they consume. But whose fault is it? And, is the media even trustworthy? A string of failures suggest otherwise: weapons of mass destruction, the global financial crisis, Brexit, Russiagate, and plenty more. This week on Darts and Letters, we talk to two media critics about the shortcomings of the fourth estate.

  • First (@4:26), did Donald Trump break the brains of liberal journalists? Is hyper-partisanship a problem? Michael Tracey is an independent journalist on Substack sometimes called a “left heretic,” and he’s been calling out liberal orthodoxies around surveillance, censorship, and hysterical forms of anti-Trumpism. We discuss how the media changed during the Trump era, how it didn’t, and what that means. Oh, also, how Tom Morello and the New York Times are…WRITING IN THE NAME OF!!
  • Then (@33:52), it’s the political economy, stupid. Robert McChesney says cost-cutting and corporate conglomeration explain hyper-partisan elite media; because it’s cheaper for FOX and MSNBC to create political entertainment than to do actual reporting. McChesney is Research Professor in the Institute of Communications Research and the Graduate School of Library and Information Science at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He’s also the author of several books criticizing corporate media. He pursues a structural critique of the media that interrogates the values that journalists internalize and the range of debate journalists enable — or don’t — based on the owners of media, and the economic incentives that drive them.


—————————-SOME NEWS————————-

We’re excited to share that we’re now officially a part of the Harbinger Media Network. Harbinger is home to several left-wing podcasts in Canada, including Alberta Advantage, Nora Loreto’s Take Back the Fight, and Paris Marx’s Tech Won’t Save Us.

——————-SUPPORT THE SHOW————————-

We need your support. If you like what you hear, chip in. You can find us on Patreon subscribers usually get the episode a day early, and sometimes will also receive bonus content. For instance, next week we’ll have the full unedited video interview with Michael Tracey on our page for our Patreon subscribers. So, if you want to see that, join today.

Don’t have the money to chip in this week? Not to fear, you can help in other ways. For one: subscribe, rate, and review our podcast. It helps other people find our work.

—————————-CONTACT US————————-

To stay up to date, follow us on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. Also, we have a new YouTube channel, where some videos of these interviews will be available next week. The full uncut Michael Tracey interview will only be on Patreon, though (thanks, Patrons!).

If you’d like to write to us, email or tweet Gordon directly.


Darts and Letters is hosted and edited by Gordon Katic. Our lead producer is Jay Cockburn. Our managing producer is Marc Apollonio. David Moscrop is our research assistant and wrote the show notes.

Our theme song and music was created by Mike Barber, our graphic design was created by Dakota Koop, and our marketing was done by Ian Sowden.

This is a production of Cited Media. And we are backed by academic grants that support mobilizing research and democratizing the concept of public intellectualism. The founding academic advisor of the program is Professor Allen Sens at the University of British Columbia.

Darts and Letters is produced in Toronto, which is on the traditional land of Mississaugas of the Credit, the Anishnabeg, the Chippewa, the Haudenosaunee and the Wendat Peoples.

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