A Balanced Media Diet for 2021

How to be an informed citizen in an era of deception.

A Media Diet Pyramid

elcome to the era of fake news.

The number of media sources available to Americans has exploded over the past two decades with the growth of the internet. These myriad sources present the very same event in often dramatically different ways, which can be fascinating. The problem is, each source often labels all other sources as deceptive or even malicious by denouncing them as “fake news.”

This creates a dilemma: Either accept one news source as the arbiter of truth and let it distinguish the fake from the genuine and thereby filter the news for you, or read broadly despite the warnings and trust your own intelligence to determine the veracity of the news you read.

Choosing the first path — which many do — is creating increasingly distinct news bubbles in this country which in turn lead to social media “echo chambers” where a small and dwindling range of perspectives is available.

This guide is for those choosing the second path.

If you’re ready to acknowledge that no one news source is always right — about its take on every event or about which of its competitors’ coverage is “fake” — then you’re ready to acknowledge that we live in an era of deception and that it’s important and worthwhile to be conscious in your consumption of the news.

This guide proposes a balanced media diet — a diverse set of media sources that will allow anyone with 30 minutes a day to become aware of the truth about current events most of the time.

Just as there are food additives and chemicals that will make you sick, there are dense foods that boost your immune system; just as there are fad diets that will ultimately diminish your health, there is the time-tested notion of a balanced diet that identifies food groups to ensure any diet provides all the basic nutrients a body needs.

This media diet identifies media food groups so as to balance not only the perspectives of the news one consumes but also the sources of the news. The goal is to ensure that all media nutrients are available to the consumer’s thoughts.

Eating broadly leads to a healthy appetite and a sound balance within the body; reading broadly leads to a critical mind and a healthy awareness of the world around you. This isn’t to say it’s easy to embark on a media diet. On the contrary, just as keeping to a new food diet that challenges your cravings and eating habits, a media diet will challenge your biases, your cultural beliefs, your political habits, and your certainty about who the “good guys” and “bad guys” might be. But the potential rewards are just as great. If you do stick to a media diet for even just a couple of weeks, you will begin to develop something I call media consciousness, an awareness of the biases at play in each of the narratives you’re told about current events.

Just as fine-tuning the foods you eat for maximum health isn’t a one-time adjustment, developing media consciousness is a lifelong journey, a path of inquiry and learning that continuously deepens our awareness of the world around us.

You can skip the following four-part introduction to the current state of American media and go right to: the diet, the food groups, or the highlighted sources.

First, A Brief History of Media

begin, a quick discussion of how we got here. It is important to understand that a biased and chaotic news media is nothing new to this country. It has been generations since the media has been so diverse, but in the 1920s and 1930s it was common for a major city to have as many as a dozen daily newspapers. Each newspaper generally had a clear viewpoint and bias known to all: the “Republicans’ paper,” the “labor paper,” the “Italians’ paper,” and so on. Most people read only one newspaper, but it was quite easy for anyone to buy a half-dozen papers one day and get a sense of the range of debate on a particular issue.

This diversity of sources began to dwindle in the 1960s as an era of media consolidation intensified and culminated in a period of deregulation in the 1990s and early 2000s. At the turn of the century, suddenly just six corporations published and broadcasted nearly all political debate in this country.

The rise of the internet has pushed the pendulum back in the other direction. Every viewpoint once again has its own media source, or even dozen media sources. Every voice can be heard if one is interested in listening.

But two things are different this time. First, there are even more accessible sources today: you don’t have to walk to the newsstand or an international news store to get a dozen different opinions, you just need an internet connection. Second, and far more important, this time around the corporate and government news organizations know what they had, and they want it back. They have no interest in another era of numerous media sources providing people with diverse, distinct narratives about events and ideas; they relish the power that comes with controlling what ideas and perspectives are published.

Second, A War for your Mind

nd that brings us to where we are today. On one hand, we have a profusion of news sources and a concomitant difficulty discerning the honest ones from the deceptive ones. On the other hand, we have large legacy media corporations who desperately want to put the genie back in the bottle and regain control of the narrative. Much as there are fast food conglomerates that use advertisements to coerce you to eat one way or another, these media corporations would like nothing better than to convince you that the world was better when there were fewer sources, that it’s inconvenient to read a diversity of news sources, and that they’re best suited to determine for you which news sources are trustworthy and which are “fake.”

“Any dictator would admire the uniformity and obedience of the American media”

— Noam Chomsky, before the advent of the internet

Put simply, there’s a war on for your mind. The power to control a society’s narrative about its present is tantamount to controlling that society’s future.

The legacy media channels, from FOX to CNN to NPR, serve the type of news they think should be sufficient for all of us: a sprinkling of hard news on top of scandals, soundbites from pundits with uniform viewpoints, “infotainment” with little news content, “hot takes” from celebrities, and one-sided analysis of events that are presented primarily to cause outrage. What news this coverage provides consists almost exclusively of what I label party politics, contributing news from only two of the media food groups.

But worse than the shallowness of each channel’s analysis is the narrowness of each channel’s perspective, and the implication that its narrow perspective isn’t only valid but is the only valid perspective. Again, the label of “fake news” is peppered explicitly and implicitly throughout this type of media coverage these days to disparage other sources and to demand that we view their opinion about what is important and their version of events as the truth, and everything else as biased, manipulated, or simply “fake.”

Third, The Remedy

ith food, any diet consisting of just one single food repeated over and over will lead to disease. Similarly, any one news media source consumed exclusively becomes disinformation. Even spending a little more time to watch two channels of the same food group provides a broader perspective on things, but given the media consolidation mentioned above that transpired over the last half century, even this effort inevitably leaves one with a narrow view of the world.

To get something approaching a complete sense of our world today, we have to explore independent media as well as corporate media, left-leaning media as well as right-leaning media, foreign news sources and domestic government propaganda, corporate PR and “native advertising,” and delve at least occasionally into deeper systemic analysis of our political system.

Reading broadly and discerning the truth from such a cornucopia of voices might sound like an impossible task, but from my experience a carefully chosen, balanced diet can be not only manageable but also fascinating and invigorating to our minds. I propose that a broad diet confers intellectual vitality as well as a more accurate sense of what is going on in one’s community, country, and world — and that it ultimately paves a path to a healthy political discourse for us all.

Fourth, What Happens When We Stay in Thought Bubbles

doesn’t take an exhaustive review of history to find cases where great tragedies have befallen nations when the majority of the people have been continuously deceived by a single group of media sources. The Iraq War, which killed over a million innocent people and cost trillions of dollars, is one very recent such case. The Nazi holocaust is another. Tiananmen Square. The list goes on. Rising to the mental challenge of reading diverse media sources is, I believe, a worthwhile endeavor.

With such momentous events happening all around us these days — the coronavirus pandemic, the 2020 election, the protests at the capitol building — it is more important than ever to have a balanced and broad understanding of these events if we are to avoid catastrophic error in how we understand the country we live in.

I’ve been writing about American politics since 2003, when I started an online political news magazine. The magazine’s second issue was titled “Big Media,” and it specifically covered our nation’s dwindling number of large news sources and the ongoing consolidation that the internet was just beginning to counteract. I’ve been tracking independent and corporate news sources ever since, and I’ve learned that nearly every news source has something to offer.

What if we each read a balanced mix of different voices and trusted our minds to distinguish the truth from the propaganda? What if we challenged our own confirmation biases? What if we confronted our fear of unfamiliar ideas? We might be able to talk to a wider array of people, we might pause to contemplate the complexity of pressing issues, we might understand the world more deeply.

A balanced media diet presents these possibilities.

Finally, I have to say that while I’ve spent hours reading, watching, and listening to sources of countless mindsets, viewpoints, and persuasions, and I can present a fairly broad-based background on the topic of news media — if you really want to get a firm grasp on how our media has functioned over the past century, you must read Noam Chomsky’s Manufacturing Consent (co-authored with Edward Herman) and research Operation Mockingbird, a government project that placed CIA agents at major American news organizations. And you should know that President Obama in 2017 signed a bill making government propaganda inside the US legal for the first time. I’m writing a book about this topic as well, which I plan to publish this year.

ow that we understand where we are, how we got here, and why it’s worth rising to the challenge of digesting diverse news media, here is the Balanced Media Diet for 2021.

Below, in order, are the six media food groups, the diet itself, and the 40 highlighted media sources of diverse nutritious value. Enjoy!

Please feel free to send me any suggestions you have for improving it.

THE SIX MEDIA FOOD GROUPS FOR 2021

Foreign News. This food group includes any and all news and viewpoints originating from outside the United States, particularly from non-English speaking countries. Consuming media from this group is critical for reaching an informed opinion not just as a citizen of the country but as a member of this human race. 10% of the 2021 diet.

Party Politics — The next pair of media sources together look at the daily jostling over legislation and power among elected officials in Washington, DC and state capitols. From who’s placed on what congressional committees, to court confirmation hearings, to approval ratings and budgeting, this is party politics. There are also usually one or two scandals for each party at any given time that keep the party politics news cycle flowing; these days, as we’re in the third red scare, news about politicians’ interactions with Russia, for instance, provides endless scandal material. These food groups constitute 90% of corporate mainstream political news.

Party Politics (Republican). News and viewpoints that follow the daily and weekly news cycle of events, scandals, and legislation on the Republican side. Important to understanding how news is packaged to inform and outrage conservatives. Generally the blame is placed on the other party and there is little deeper analysis. 20% of the 2021 diet.

Party Politics (Democrat). News and viewpoints that follow the daily and weekly news cycle of events, scandals, and legislation on the Democratic side. Important to understanding how news is packaged to inform and outrage liberals. Generally the blame is placed on the other party and there is little deeper analysis. 20% of the 2021 diet.

True Politics — The next pair of media sources looks beyond the parties and considers the underlying guiding political philosophies and principles that form the historical differences between conservatives and liberals, libertarians and progressives, capitalists and socialists. It has been said that all politics — for at least the past 1000 years — can be viewed as originating from one of three impulses: 1. progressive, the impulse to spread wealth and power more broadly among people; 2. reactionary, aiming to concentrate wealth and power more narrowly; and 3. conservative, aiming to keep the distribution of wealth and power as it is. The push and pull of these three impulses is true politics. It should be mentioned that the great overarching trend — the long arc of history — has been bending in a progressive direction since 1215 and the signing of Magna Carta.
Note: The terms “Radical” or “Principled” are used sometimes instead of “True” for this layer of news coverage, but the former to me tends to have too negative a connotation, and the latter too positive, so I mostly use “True.”

True Politics (Progressive). News and analysis that will point out flaws in both parties and that will sometimes suggest that the parties agree about most things and feign disagreement. Progressive analysis includes class analysis that acknowledges that all Americans suffer when there are wars overseas, no universal healthcare, starvation wages, polluted air and water, and crippling debt. Progressive True Politics sources tend to be marginalized by Party Politics with these labels: “radical”, “socialist,” “far-left,” “communist.” 20% of the 2021 diet.

True Politics (Libertarian & Conservative). News and analysis that will point out flaws in both parties and that will sometimes suggest that the parties agree about most things and feign disagreement. Libertarian perspectives include analysis of privacy and liberty that critiques the encroaching surveillance state, worsening militarism, and shrinking set of guaranteed personal rights. Conservative perspectives include attention to founding principles and favor more deliberate consideration before advocating systemic change. Words used by Party Politics sources to marginalize and silence these sources: “radical,” “fascist,” “alt-right,” “nazi.” 20% of the 2021 diet.

Deep Politics — This final media food group includes reporting on the political system as a whole, considering both parties and their principles, and also inspecting the generally allowed parameters of debate and discussion. Even a casual observer of American politics will notice that important policies remain largely unaffected by elections even if the party in power changes. Deep politics analyzes the political decisions and disagreements occurring in this permanent political establishment, which is generally called the “permanent state” or the “deep state.” Deep political analysis also contemplates covert agreements between the political parties and considers conspiracies, both those discussed openly in the mainstream media (alleged Russian election interference; 9/11 hijackings; etc.) and those not generally discussed in the mainstream media (election fraud; assassinations; climate engineering; “false flag” events and faked acts of foreign aggression; CIA-backed coups, etc.).

Deep Politics. News and analysis covering the underlying power structures of our country and the crucial decisions about things like war, energy, the money supply, and surveillance that are made largely by unelected officials in intelligence organizations, the Pentagon, and executive departments. Words used by both Party Politics and True Politics sources to marginalize and silence these Deep Politics sources: “paranoid,” “wacky,” “conspiracy theorist.” 10% of the 2021 diet.

THE DIET

ou’ve gotten this far, so you have both an interest and a bit of time to devote to a balanced awareness of our news media and the events and ideas shaping our world. Thank you and congratulations. Greater consciousness is right around the corner.

Here’s how it works: You will read a different set of news sources each day of the week, as specified in the chart below. For each source, on each day, you will scroll down to the list of Highlighted Sources for 2021 and click to read, watch, or listen to the day’s sources. You can bookmark the sites in your browser so you don’t have to keep coming back to this page.

Three Levels

The diet has three levels to fit your available time. If you haven’t been conscious of your media consumption before, start with 30 minutes a day; it will have an enormous impact on your awareness of the country and world around you. After just two weeks, you will begin to have an entirely different experience watching and reading news media.

If you’re already consuming a lot of news media from various sources, or if you’re a professional journalist, politician, or professor, or if for any other reason you simply want an express journey to a broader understanding of our political and economic world, spend more time: Go on the “Journalist” or “Media Critic” diet, which offer more depth and a greater range of perspectives from quality journalists situated all across our media landscape.

  1. BASIC. “Conscious Citizen.” (30 minutes daily)
  2. ADVANCED. “Journalist.” (90 minutes daily)
  3. EXPERT. “Media Critic.” (180 minutes daily)

There’s a fourth option too, for when you need to focus on other parts of life:

4. UNPLUGGED. “On a Media Fast.” (1 hour weekly)

ere it is! I spent many hours reviewing sources and balancing the diet across the days of the week and across perspectives. All forty sources are detailed, with links provided, below the chart.

The Balanced Media Diet for 2021:

The Balanced Media Diet for 2021. Each source’s color matches its food group on the pyramid. ‘$’ indicates the source has a partial paywall.

To see this chart at any time, you can simply go to www.BalancedMediaDiet.com.

THE HIGHLIGHTED NEWS SOURCES FOR 2021

fter extensive research and a weighted rating selection routine, I chose the following 40 networks, magazines, and individual journalists for your balanced 2021 diet. Feel free to supplement them with your own favorites, but always pay attention to the overall balance of your diet.

Networks

Al Jazeera — An international Arab news network with a full English version. Relatively open news coverage of international events. Based in Qatar, owned by a Qatari public-private partnership with significant funding from the Qatari government.
Media Food Group: Foreign Politics
Viewpoint: International, Middle Eastern, Arab
WATCH >

China Daily — The major national English-language Chinese newspaper. Covers international news, with a focus on Chinese affairs. Founded and funded by the Chinese government. Based in China. (If you’re concerned about foreign propaganda, please consider that all media — particularly government or corporate funded media — is propaganda. See the description of RT, below, to be inspired to read foreign media nonetheless.)
Media Food Group: Foreign Politics
Viewpoint: International, Chinese
READ >

C-SPAN — A network created out of a 1979 settlement with cable companies, C-SPAN carries live and often unmoderated coverage of political events in Washington D.C. Sometimes this makes for compelling television, other times dull coverage, but in any case it is good for a balanced understanding of politics, albeit from an establishment, bipartisan perspective. Analysis stays within the accepted bounds of corporate media. Owned by the National Cable Satellite Corporation. Based in Washington, DC.
Media Food Group: Corporate Party Politics
Viewpoint: Republican & Democrat
WATCH >

FOX News — The big Republican-leaning corporate political news network. Owned by FOX Corporation, with Rupert Murdoch as chairman and 39% ownership via a family trust. Based in New York.
Media Food Group: Corporate Party Politics
Viewpoint: Republican
WATCH >

MSNBC — The big Democrat-leaning corporate political news network. Originally founded through a joint venture by Bill Gates’s Microsoft and GE’s NBC News which created the name “MS-NBC.” Now owned by giant media conglomerate Comcast. Based in New York.
Media Food Group: Corporate Party Politics
Viewpoint: Democrat
WATCH >

NPR — The government-founded American radio network, now generally supported by corporations and foundations. At one point NPR and its affiliates were primarily supported by government funding, but that was phased out during the Reagan and Clinton years — the era of media deregulation. With its recently increasing corporate underwriting, NPR is too big and too heavily influenced by corporate forces to be considered independent. Strong establishment and Democrat bias. Based in Washington, DC.
Media Food Group: Corporate Party Politics
Viewpoint: Democrat
LISTEN > READ >

RT — A major international news network funded in part by the Russian government. We are in the Third Red Scare, so you’re supposed to be scared of this network, but in truth it’s a great source of alternative perspectives that will broaden your mind. As you watch, think of the open-minded people in East Germany in 1970 listening to Voice of America; or the open-minded people in China today watching CNN. You’re smart enough to consider unfamiliar ideas, that’s the point of a media diet. In fact, most of the commentators on RT are brilliant Americans who were too outspoken for MSNBC’s corporate pro-war bias: Phil Donahue was fired by MSNBC for opposing the Iraq invasion; Jesse Ventura was fired by MSNBC for opposing the Iraq invasion; Ed Schultz was fired for talking too much about Bernie Sanders, etc. Why did MSNBC fire these progressives? Important to check it out.
Media Food Group: Foreign Politics
Viewpoint: International, Russian
WATCH >

Telesur — An international news network funded by a coalition of Latin American countries to counter the influence of CNN. A great regular complement to an American’s media diet, Telesur tends to provide alternative viewpoint with a left-leaning or even socialist take on international events.
Media Food Group: Foreign Politics
Viewpoint: International, Latin American (Bolivia, Cuba, El Salvador, Venezuela)
WATCH >

Magazines & Newspapers

The Atlantic — A liberal-leaning political journal in print since the 1800s. After changing hands several times recently, it’s now owned by the Emerson Collective, a foundation started by billionaire Laurene Powell Jobs, former Apple CEO Steve Jobs’ widow. Based in Washington DC.
Media Food Group: Independent Party Politics
Viewpoint: Democrat
READ >

CNSNews — A firmly conservative news magazine that was founded in the late 1990s by conservative media advocate L. Brent Bozell to counter “liberal bias” in the corporate media. Originally named “Conservative News Source,” CNS has since changed its name to Cybercast News Source. Owned by the Media Research Center. Based in Reston, Va.
Media Food Group: Independent Party Politics
Viewpoint: Republican
READ >

Consortium News — A great source for deeper analysis of the current American political situation. It was one of the first internet-based news magazines, founded by Robert Parry in 1995. Parry was the journalist who broke the Iran-Contra Scandal in the 1980s, and he is one of many journalists who have (unfortunately) been fired by corporate media for taking a step too far investigating controversial topics. Based in Arlington, Va.
Media Food Group: Independent Deep Politics
Viewpoint: Nonpartisan
READ >

Democracy Now — A progressive television and radio show produced in New York by longtime left media personage Amy Goodman. Provides generally under-reported news on labor and social movements as well as coverage of foreign news with a focus on the effects of American sanctions and military strikes.
Media Food Group: Independent True Politics
Viewpoint: Progressive
WATCH > READ >

The Economist — A business-friendly international weekly with an establishment pedigree. Firmly centrist, its bias is in favor of capitalism and globalization, and since both American political parties now generally support these things too, it’s hard to say the Economist has a clear party preference, but in 2021 seems to have a slight Democrat bias.
Media Food Group: Corporate Party Politics
Viewpoint: Democrat
READ >

Forbes — A conservative-leaning business and politics magazine and contributor platform founded in 1917 and run by a member of the Forbes family ever since. Unironically uses the nickname, “The Capitalist Tool.” An expansive array of contributors provide a wide array of perspectives. Owned now by Asian holding company Integrated Whale Media. Based in New Jersey.
Media Food Group: Corporate Party Politics
Viewpoint: Republican
READ >

Global Research — Provides a trenchant critique of deep politics, focusing on the ramifications of American and Western foreign policy, American empire, terrorism, state-sponsored violence, and wars. Pulls no punches in appraising current events and American history. Based in Ottawa, Canada.
Media Food Group: Independent Deep Politics
Viewpoint: Nonpartisan
READ >

IVN — A news platform dedicated to highlighting independent political news, the Independent Voter Network focuses on electoral reform and on events that reveal the political straitjacket of the two-party system.
Media Food Group: Independent Party Politics
Viewpoint: Nonpartisan
READ >

Lockdown Skeptics — A Britain-based review of news that questions the justification of throttling worldwide lockdowns, offering some balance for those of us inured to corporate media’s incessant defense of these global restrictions. Often brilliant perspective pieces. Based in London.
Media Food Group: Independent True Politics
Viewpoint: Nonpartisan
READ >

Jacobin — A socialist-leaning progressive political magazine with a fearless attitude. Great for getting a balanced perspective on, say, the Bernie Sanders movement or the underlying goals of the more progressive members of Congress. Critiques of the Democratic Party from the left. Based in New York, NY.
Media Food Group: Independent True Politics
Viewpoint: Progressive
READ >

New York Times ($) — The most widely circulated Democrat-leaning newspaper. Exhaustive reporting of domestic and international events. The agenda-setter for left-leaning media, the “paper of record.” This prestigious organization was also the most important asset of Operation Mockingbird, which recruited journalists to work for the CIA. Owned primarily by the American Sulzberger family and Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim. Paywall after 3 articles.
Media Food Group: Corporate Party Politics
Viewpoint: Democrat
READ >

The Nation ($) — The country’s oldest weekly magazine. A longtime progressive news source still putting out trenchant analysis and great journalism, although currently more inline with Democrat talking points than in years past. Sometimes on the line between Party Politics and True Politics, but offering more Party Politics lately. Paywall after 6 articles.
Media Food Group: Independent Party Politics
Viewpoint: Democrat
READ >

National Review — A traditional pillar of right-leaning thought, it was founded in the 1950s by William F. Buckley and has featured and strengthened a variety of strands of conservative thought over the decades.
Media Food Group: Independent True Politics
Viewpoint: Conservative
READ >

Reason — A leading libertarian magazine, it was founded in 1968 as a mimeographed newsletter and has grown into an important journal with a refreshing perspective on politics and culture. In a time of intense two-dimensional political rancor, Reason offers a third dimension, one that is necessary when things like lockdowns and forced medical procedures are in the political discourse. Styles itself “journal of free minds and free markets.” Based in Los Angeles, Ca.
Media Food Group: Independent True Politics
Viewpoint: Libertarian
READ >

Rising — A daily news show produced by The Hill with a refreshing populist perspective and a balance of progressive and conservative thought. Co-hosts Krystal Ball (progressive) and Saagar Enjeti (conservative) analyze beltway and national politics, and when they get into principled debates with each other we have a model for engaged political discourse. Based in Washington, DC.
Media Food Group: Independent True Politics
Viewpoint: Bipartisan
WATCH >

Washington Times ($) — The other newspaper in Washington, DC. This daily was founded in 1982 at the end of the last red scare, by Sun Myung Moon, head of the Korea-based Unification Church, in a curious attempt to fight communism. In the intervening years it has become a leader of conservative and contrarian news publishing. Paywall after 3 articles.
Media Food Group: Independent Party Politics
Viewpoint: Republican
READ >

Wall Street Journal ($) — One of the oldest American daily newspapers, the WSJ focuses first on business news, but has considerable political coverage and clout too, including a famously conservative editorial page. Owned by billionaire Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation. Based in New York. Paywall now after only one article.
Media Food Group: Corporate Party Politics
Viewpoint: Republican
READ >

Your local newspaper — Stay apprised of what’s going on in your town, city, and region. Notice your local paper’s bias. You probably have at least two local newspapers. Regardless of perspective, the closer journalism is to where you live, the more honest it will be about the events in your local community.
Media Food Group: Corporate Party Politics
Viewpoint: Republican or Democrat
READ >

Individual Journalists & Columnists

Sheryl Attkisson After three decades as a correspondent and anchor at PBS and CBS News, Attkisson resigned from CBS citing bias and a vanishing commitment to investigative journalism. She creates a weekly 20-minute investigative news show called Full Measure. Attkisson’s bias is mildly conservative but as a dyed-in-the-wool investigative journalist she lets the chips fall where they may.
Media Food Group: Independent True Politics
Viewpoint: Conservative
WATCH >
READ >

Del Bigtree / The Highwire —Bigtree’s weekly investigative tour de force The Highwire is a two-hour news show that will balance an entire week of NPR or CNN’s fear-based coverage of the lockdowns and the coronavirus. He goes hard but fair at the dominant paradigms about the virus, bringing on experts in the fields of immunology, virology, epidemiology, and others, like OSHA mask experts and doctors who have cured COVID-19 with hydroxychloroquine and ivermectin. Based in Austin, TX.
Media Food Group: Independent True Politics
Viewpoint: Conservative
WATCH >

Rachel Blevins — Progressive news commentator who, like Phil Donahue, Ed Schultz, Krystal Ball, etc., was fired for being too outspoken for corporate mainstream media. Her stated goal is to “look beyond the false ‘left vs. right’ paradigm that is prevalent in American media,” and pay attention to issues not covered elsewhere.
Media Food Group: Independent True Politics
Viewpoint: Progressive
WATCH >

Lee Camp / Redacted Tonight — In a time of universal deception, comedy is often the only channel through which the truth comes out. In the tradition of George Carlin and Jon Stewart, the brilliant-yet-accessible deep politics commentator today is comedian Lee Camp and his weekly show Redacted Tonight. Foul language and off-color jokes abound, but so does a penetrating examination of the underlying forces of current American politics.
Media Food Group: Deep Politics
Viewpoint: Progressive
WATCH >

Tucker Carlson — A conservative FOX News commentator who freely switches from toeing the party line to offering an independent take on current national politics. Speaks his own mind particularly on foreign policy. Rumor is, Carlson is the only news commentator Donald Trump watches.
Media Food Group: Corporate Party Politics
Viewpoint: Republican
WATCH >

Jimmy Dore — Another comedian-turned-news-commentator, Dore’s daily show provides in-depth coverage of the day’s events, from a progressive viewpoint, as well as cogent — even withering at times — criticism of the corporate media. His style is literally to analyze a few of the day’s corporate news reports and point out lies and deception. Great for media balance.
Media Food Group: Independent True Politics
Viewpoint: Progressive
WATCH >

Glenn Greenwald— The talented independent investigative journalist who provided Edward Snowden with his initial connections to the media to tell the world about massive American surveillance, Greenwald founded the The Intercept to provide censorship-free journalism opportunities to American writers, and then left the publication after five years when it “became its antithesis.” He’s now independent again and writing better than ever.
Media Food Group: Independent True Politics
Viewpoint: Progressive
READ >

Christopher Hedges — Cogent, even caustic, left critic of capitalism and our current American system, which he calls, with formidable evidence, “corporate totalitarianism.” Fired by the New York Times for being insufficiently supportive of the 2003 invasion of Iraq, Hedges is one of several heirs apparent to Noam Chomsky and eminently worth listening to.
Media Food Group: Independent True Politics
Viewpoint: Progressive
READ >

Niko House — An Army veteran who studied at UNC Chapel Hill, Niko House is a young independent journalist with a growing following. In 2016, he was the founder of “Carolina Students for Bernie Sanders,” and later revealed that the Vermont senator’s campaign in the Tar Heel State was derailed from within by Hillary Clinton supporters who ran the state campaign. Getting to the bottom of this scandal launched his career as a journalist, and he now doesn’t support either party but rather reports on the underlying forces driving the entire American political process.
Media Food Group: Independent Deep Politics
Viewpoint: Nonpartisan
WATCH >

Kim Iversen —From a successful career on corporate radio stations all around the country to an independent show of her own, Iversen has found a following with her trenchant political analysis. One of many solo video bloggers today doing excellent independent journalism, her perspective defies easy labels: she has both conservative and progressive biases, depending on the issue, which suggests she has that rare quality, integrity.
Media Food Group: Independent True Politics
Viewpoint: Progressive
WATCH >

Caitlin Johnstone — Uncommonly insightful independent writer with a deep analytical perspective that is nearly unavailable elsewhere. She points out the flaws and corruption in both parties and explores the underlying forces directing both. Be forewarned: she peppers her political commentary with sardonic humor, four-letter words, and occasional appeals to universal spirituality.
Media Food Group: Independent Deep Politics
Viewpoint: Progressive
READ >

Aaron Maté / The Grayzone — An independent journalist with a keen eye for uncovering media distortion in foreign affairs reporting, Maté has provided balance and clarity on the endless Russiagate conspiracy theory, the alleged gas attacks in Syria, and the frequently censored genocide going on in Yemen. He’s written for years for The Nation (above), and recently joined independent news analysis network The Grayzone with fellow journalists Max Blumenthal and Anya Parampil.
Media Food Group: Independent Deep Politics
Viewpoint: Progressive
WATCH >

Freddie Sayers / Unherd— British journalist Freddie Sayers creates high-quality, often superb, interviews, and as balanced information on the pandemic, virus, and lockdowns grew difficult to find throughout 2020, Unherd featured political leaders and expert scientists on all sides of the questions. Indeed it was perhaps as un-2020 as news sources came, featuring long, thoughtful conversations rather than fearful soundbites. Sayers continues his excellent work in 2021, striving for balanced and patient interviews.
Media Food Group: Foreign News
Viewpoint: Nonpartisan
WATCH >

Jordan Schachtel — An indefatigable investigative journalist with a foreign affairs focus and a conservative slant, Schachtel left Breitbart News in 2016 on principle, alleging incessant “party-line Trump propaganda.” In 2020, he did brilliant investigative work countering what he sees as groupthink on the lockdowns and coronavirus response, and provided important perspective on the Capitol protests in early 2021. Shachtel’s reporting and analysis will prove important in 2021 for balancing corporate news bias.
Media Food Group: Independent True Politics
Viewpoint: Conservative
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Ben Swann — A quintessential investigative journalist, Swann founded an investigative segment called Reality Check and a social media channel called Truth in Media while working in corporate news television in Atlanta and Cincinnati. He anchored these segments for years and won nationwide praise for asking Obama difficult questions about drone strikes in an interview. He was then fired for investigating “Pizzagate” in 2018. Now on his own, his Reality Check show provides great counterpoint to corporate media news.
Media Food Group: Independent True Politics
Viewpoint: Conservative
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And that’s it. A quick note on something I’ve barely mentioned: money. While nearly all sources selected are free to read or view, a few have instituted a partial paywall; these are marked with a dollar sign ($). For these, read the number of articles allowed, then move on to the next source in the day’s diet. You can also choose to pay the subscription fee, of course, but in that case try to contribute equally to all sources you go to for news, or at least balance your contributions somewhat, as many of the independent journalists offer their writing for free as they attempt to build a large audience. The funding of quality journalism is a complex and contentious issue, something I’ll address in a future article.

ltimately the challenge of the diet is to consciously consider news rather than to simply consume whatever is thrown in front of you. When you begin to trust your own mind, your own heart, or your own intuition — whatever it is you use as a guide in the most important parts of your life — you will be able to discern honest and unbiased information as it comes before you. You’ll be wrong sometimes, but you’ll get better at it, and you’ll start to have a memory for these things. This is media consciousness.

When you remember that the New York Times was in favor of the Iraq War and repeatedly published government lies about Iraq’s “weapons of mass destruction” — and you realize that the big New York paper has actually been in favor of every war for the last seven decades — you’ll realize it shouldn’t be your only source of news when you want unbiased information about a potential new use America’s deadly military. Sources that have failed you in the past likely will fail you again. Sources that have had value in the past likely will prove their value again.

Media consciousness, which begins with a commitment to a media diet, is not a fixed goal but rather a lifelong path of growth, and this path will change and evolve as you do. Your perspective will change with the incessantly changing events of your life. Indeed, all things change. Media sources themselves evolve, grow, and improve or degrade in quality. This diet you have before you today will evolve as well — to adjust as the perspective and quality of its sources change. This diet is for 2021, and it differs slightly from 2019’s.

Enjoy, and may your journey be fruitful.

Where rationalism and idealism meet.