Collaborating once more (The Death and Life of American Journalism: The Media Revolution that Will Begin the World Again, 2010), Nichols, the Nation’s Washington, D.C., correspondent, and academic McChesney (Communications/Univ. of Illinois) decry the pernicious influence of Big Money on our elections.
Mining the $10 billion 2012 campaign for supporting data and illustrative anecdotes, the authors explain how the plutocrats have seized control of our electoral process, to the detriment of everyday Americans. It’s a conspiracy, they write, among the major parties, their big money donors, lobbyists, consultants, super PACs and giant media corporations, all benefiting from the status quo. The unobstructed flow of Big Money washing through the system has been aided, they argue, by a series of Supreme Court decisions that beat back any attempt at reform—Citizens United is singled out for special opprobrium—and abetted by a supine journalistic establishment too obsessed with the horse race and too beholden to the financial windfall accompanying each election cycle to advocate for change. Though Nichols and McChesney take an occasional swipe at the "too friendly to business" ethos that infected the Democrats under Clinton and the Obama campaign’s dangerous, digital incursions on our privacy, they reserve most of their fire for Republicans, for their wealthy backers—the Koch brothers, Richard Mellon Scaife, Sheldon Adelson—their supportive media—Fox News, Rush Limbaugh—political masterminds—Karl Rove, Lee Atwater—and judicial “architects” of the dollarocracy—Burger, Powell, Roberts—who’ve helped ensure a corrupt system. The authors reject contentions that the Internet will permit voters to break through the barriers erected by the moneyed interests and, instead, propose a radical reform agenda that includes a constitutional amendment to dispose of Citizens United, the abolition of the Electoral College, free airtime for candidates and the establishment of a nonpartisan Election Commission.
An alarming, not-incorrect diagnosis, but an argument too one-sided and a solution so lofty as to be of little use.