Robert McChesney, University of Illinois and John Nichols, The Nation
About the Seminar
In this seminar, two leading media experts – journalist John Nichols and academic Robert McChesney – examine the forces that have sapped elections of their meaning and stolen America’s democratic potential: the pay-to-play billionaires and the politicians who do their bidding, the corporations that have been freed to buy elections and the activist judges who advance their agenda, and the media conglomerates that blow off journalism while raking in billions airing intellectually and morally reprehensible political advertising. The determination of media companies to cash in on that mockery, especially by selling ad time at a premium to the campaigns – when they should instead be exposing and opposing it – completes a vicious circle.
Nichols and McChesney argue that what has emerged is a “money-and-media election complex.” This complex is built on a set of commercial and institutional relationships connecting wealthy donors, corporations, lobbyists, politicians, coin-operated “think tanks,” beltway pundits, and now super-PACS. These relationships are not just eviscerating democratic elections, they are benefitting by that evisceration. The unprecedented tidal wave of unaccountable money flooding the electoral system makes a mockery of political equality in the voting booth. It is the world of Dollarocracy.
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About the Speakers
Robert McChesney is a professor at the University of Illinois who focuses on the history and political economy of communication. He is also the author of Digital Disconnect: How Capitalism is Turning the Internet Against Democracy and the coauthor, with John Foster, of The Endless Crisis: How Monopoly-Finance Capital Produces Stagnation and Upheaval from the USA to China.
John Nichols is the Washington correspondent for The Nation and a frequent radio and TV commentator on politics and media issues. His books include The Genius of Impeachment and the best-selling biography of Vice President Dick Cheney, Dick: The Man Who is President.