The assumption that Armstrong Williams' payola is only the tip of the radical conservative propaganda iceberg further illustrates how money creates message in today's political landscape.
Tycoons like Rupert Murdoch have unprecendented influence over the minds of Americans, and it's time that progressive groups found financial backing to allow them to eke out a small corner of the message market while doing the grassroots work necessary to implement progressive programs. George Soros, arch-villain as defined by Cornerites and folks who play with little green balls, is loaded and prepared to get behind all sorts of progressive projects. His Open Society Institute "aim[s] to promote open societies by shaping government policy and supporting education, media, public health, and human and women's rights, as well as social, legal, and economic reform. To diminish and prevent the negative consequences of globalization, OSI seeks to foster global open society by increasing collaboration with other nongovernmental organizations, governments, and international institutions."
Soros' support of liberal and progressive 527 organization drew the ire of the power monopolizers and their minions in the run-up to the last election, but he's still on the march. From the Financial Times: "the still-evolving plan, according to one person involved, is “joint investment to build intellectual infrastructure”.
The intention is to provide the left with organisations in Washington that can match the heft of the rightwing think-tanks such as Heritage Foundation and the American Enterprise Institute. At a state level, the aim is to build what one person called a “deeper progressive bench”."
Soros isn't alone in his efforts, and if you're (heads up, PFC) a progressive organization with a solid mission and competent staff, there's money to be had. "The sums involved are the subject of speculation: one person said he had heard a commitment to spend more than $100m over 15 years, another said at least $25m over five years. Several people said their understanding was that the billionaires had decided to spend more, rather than less, than they did in 2004."
Money isn't the solution to progressives' challenges, but it's a tool that we can't ignore. The gold rush is on.