“Don’t you think it’s a weird time to be saying fuck the media?”
I’ve heard this question often lately. Given that a fascist is running our country and attacking journalists daily—isn’t it a weird time to say “fuck the media”? Is it harmful to say “fuck the media” when Trump is yelling at the American journalist Jorge Ramos to “sit down”? When his press secretary is dragging said reporter away and squawking “get out of my country”? Isn’t it a weird time to say “fuck the media” when Trump, a man obsessed with creating propaganda, is repeatedly shouting “FAKE NEWS”? When he is ordering a media blackout to the EPA? When public media is under attack?
Political slogans are rarely effective. The full potential of what a human or an organization feels about something as amorphous as “the media” could never be summed up in three words. Yet we still use them, and that’s okay, too, because they’re provocative and intriguing and hopefully lead to greater conversation.
For example: It is absolutely a strange time to be saying “fuck the media,” but we must keep saying it. We have always said “fuck the media” because we know that media can be better, more equitable, more adversarial, and we cannot stop holding fast to that ideal. We can say “fuck the media” and promise to rip little holes in it and support those building subversive new models. In activist circles, I keep hearing a sentiment echoed, that it’s not time to be starting our own new movements, but rather to support those who have been leading movements for decades. When it comes to media, we can do this too. We can support the truly independent and radical websites, the progressive talk shows, the socialist magazines, the investigative reporters holding power accountable, the media justice organizations, the ones who are trying and who have been trying to make better presses in the shells of the old.
While stuck in my head thinking about whether our publication’s tagline holds up in 2017, I keep thinking about how Trump’s war on the media is another of his gaslighting mechanisms. About the feeling of being emotionally manipulated by the president. About how he wants us to feel paranoia and anxiety and to forget what is real. How he is weaponizing our anger against us. About how that is a tactic of abuse.
I keep thinking of the recent Priests’ lyric from “Pink White House”— CONSIDER THE OPTIONS OF A BINARY—and how fucked it is to feel like we have to choose between the less of two evils, between a world with no free press or a world with a straight white corporate neoliberal one. I keep thinking about how we live in a world of exacerbated Binaries. But these binaries are false. These equivalencies are false.
When we say “fuck the media” we don’t mean ban the media. We don’t mean criminalize the media, we don’t mean privatize the (public) media. Those are the messages this fascist regime is communicating and we reject them squarely. We can agree to defend the basic rights of the press while not settling for basic rights being the extent of a struggle for media justice. We can say “fuck the media” because we are let down by the media status quo, and that is legitimate.
We can, and we must.
We must say “fuck the media” for not telling the truth about Standing Rock, about the police violence, the aggressive military response, about the mace and the rubber bullets and sound cannons and the arrests made to those protecting the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation, the Missouri River, and Lake Oahe. We must say “fuck the media” for not telling the truth about dead children in Yemen, or about the 24 dead civilians in the first covert counterterrorism operation under Trump. We must say “fuck the media” because Lewis Wallace, the only transgender reporter at the public radio show Marketplace, was just fired after self-publishing an essay titled "Objectivity is dead, and I'm okay with it." We must say “fuck the media” because we still have to say fuck right-wing propaganda. We must say “fuck the media” because saying “fuck you” without apology is an integral part of defending the true meaning the word ALTERNATIVE, of defending an alternative press.