The Press Oils the Machinery of Class Warfare

jonathan-tasiniI’m going to start by saying something entirely unoriginal: the traditional press has its head up its ass, and is thoroughly incapable of looking at itself and understanding that most transcribers of press releases (formerly known as “journalists”) are entirely not qualified to write about the economy or work and, indeed, are oiling the machine of class warfare.

Okay, now that I’ve gotten the soft criticism out of the way, here is what made me write down the previous observation, one I have held after a long period of watching these clowns. Politico has a story about a Gallup poll about unions:

As unions have come under fire in states across the country, the differences in opinion between how Republicans and Democrats view organized labor has grown to historic margins, a new poll shows.

Republicans and Democrats have diverged dramatically in their views towards unions over the last year. This year’s Gallup poll on labor unions, released Thursday, shows that the gap between Republicans and Democrats on labor union approval is 52 percent, up from 37 percent last year.

Overall, only 26 percent of Republicans approve of unions, compared to 78 percent of Democrats. Last year, 34 percent of Republicans approved of unions, compared to 71 percent of Democrats.

Meanwhile, overall disapproval of labor unions remains near historic highs. A slim majority of Americans – 52 percent – approve of unions, up from a record low of 48 percent in 2009, while 42 percent of Americans disapprove of labor unions, according to Gallup. Historically the difference has been as low as 25 percent.

What are we to make of this data?

First, well, duh: if Americans hear nothing from the press but how “rich union contracts” and “high wages and pensions” are the cause of state budget difficulties–as opposed to a relentless undermining of a progressive tax system by Democrats and Republicans alike–what are they to think? If the press keeps hammering home the idea that our key problem is a phony debt and deficit “crisis” and they keep repeating–ERRONEOUSLY–that Social Security is broke or in financial dire straights and that people have to engage in “shared sacrifice” even though they had nothing to do with the crisis we are in and, thus, union workers have to accept cuts in their “golden” benefits–what are people to think?

You might remember that, at the dawn of the Iraq war, a huge majority of people were gung-ho about the war–largely because a complicit and stupid press just wrote down everything that an unethical and venal Administration fed to the transcribers of press releases.

The same thing is true when it comes to unions. Garbage in, garbage out.

Appeared originally in Working Life on September 1, 2011. Reprinted with permission.

About the Author: Jonathan Tasini is the executive director of Labor Research Association. Tasini ran for the Democratic nomination for the U.S. Senate in New York. For the past 25 years, Jonathan has been a union leader and organizer, a social activist, and a commentator and writer on work, labor and the economy. From 1990 to April 2003, he served as president of the National Writers Union (United Auto Workers Local 1981).He was the lead plaintiff in Tasini vs. The New York Times, the landmark electronic rights case that took on the corporate media’s assault on the rights of thousands of freelance authors.

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Madeline Messa

Madeline Messa is a 3L at Syracuse University College of Law. She graduated from Penn State with a degree in journalism. With her legal research and writing for Workplace Fairness, she strives to equip people with the information they need to be their own best advocate.