Having been in the media business for so long, I’m not all that afraid of a microphone or a busy newsroom. The camera is something altogether different and unsettling. Public speaking? Bring it on. Radio interview? I’ll crush it. Television camera? Whoa. Not my thing. Nevertheless, we submitted The Great American Disconnect to the producers of Abby Martin’s RT show Breaking the Set in hopes of snagging an interview. Why? Because I fucking love Abby Martin.
Abby represents the new ideal of the subjective journalist who speaks truth to power and is afraid of no one. As a writer, I don’t fall into the camp of those who offer a wholesale and vitriolic scorched earth criticism of the mainstream media. Don’t get me wrong, mainstream media deserves to be criticized but it can also be effective. There is a difference, for example, between establishment media and corporate media. Every once in a while establishment media (NYT, WaPo, 60 Minutes) hits the ball out of the park. Most of the time, they are fairly mundane. But mundane is necessary even if it’s not all that sexy. Corporate media, on the other hand, is dangerous. (Fox, MSNBC, etc.) These are broad generalizations, but you get the picture.
Then there’s Abby. What makes Abby so terrifying is that she’s smart, eloquent and calls bullshit when she sees it. She is the antidote to corporate media but too progressive for the establishment. She’s a purist. When we spoke after the show, we talked about how important it is to challenge one’s own assumptions and continue to listen and learn. It sounds so obvious, but listening and learning takes discipline and an open mind, things that are lacking in the media culture today.
In Death of the Liberal Class, Chris Hedges chastises the media for being, “plagued by the same mediocrity, corporatism, and careerism ad the academy, the unions, the arts, the Democratic Party and religious institutions.” It’s a terrible truth that is hard to swallow, but a truth just the same. But Breaking the Set is different. Abby is part of a new breed of journalist that I have been fortunate to meet in the past few years. Alexa O’Brien, who reported exhaustively on Chelsea Manning’s trial, is another who comes to mind. Fearless, provocative and growing in influence, they are not afflicted by the same disease that plagues the liberal class. They are pounding back against our corporate oligarchy and breaking through with sheer will, talent and determination. It’s fun to watch and witness. Even more fun to be part of it, if only for 7 minutes and 46 seconds.