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Mainstream media

Posted by Brian from Shawnee on September 23, 2010 at 03:06

In Reply to: Mainstream media posted by ESC on September 22, 2010 at 14:20:

: : What is the origin of the current phrase "mainstream media?"

: Interesting question. Haven't found the exact phrase yet. However, “Safire’s New Political Dictionary” by William Safire (Random House, New York, 1993), has a long entry, Page 429-430, about the use of the word "mainstream" and water imagery. Goes WAY back. Mary Wollstonecraft, A Vindication of the Rights of Women, 1792: "...a stream of popular opinion." John F. Kennedy, 1963, "Ireland is moving in the mainstream of current world events." Mr. Safire said New York Gov. Nelson Rockefeller used "mainstream" a lot: "'The mainstream of American political thought and action' was one of his favorite phrases. Speechwriter Hugh Morrow recalled that Rockefeller's first use of the term was in a statement released July 14, 1963..."

One often hears "mainstream media" or the abbreviation MSM used in a pejorative way by right-leaning pundits and radio personalities when they refer to the left-leaning "big 3" U.S. broadcast network news departments, big city newspapers (especially the NY Times and Washington Post), and wire services. Use of the term with this particular meaning probably coincides with the rise of right-wing talk radio in, what, the early 1990's? That's just a more-or-less educated guess on my part.