Every semester for the past couple of years I’ve been privileged to be a guest speaker at the Ithaca College course on Independent Media conducted by Prof. Jeff Cohen

I get to regale students with stories about Legal Insurrection, some of which are true.  (FTR, all of them are true, or at least based on a true story.)  I’ve posted about it a couple of times.

Jeff is an old line liberal (I think he won’t mind me calling him that, but I guess I’ll find out if I get disinvited) who founded FAIR (a progressive media watch group) and Roots Action.

In a blog post at HuffPo early in July, Jeff wrote How Do You Know When President Obama Is Lying?  MSNBC Won’t Tell You:

I was a young person when I first heard the quip: “How do you know when the President is lying? His lips are moving.” At the time, President Nixon was expanding the war in Vietnam to other countries and deploying the White House “plumbers” to commit crimes against antiwar leakers.

Forty years have passed. Sadly, these days, often when I see President Obama moving his lips, I assume he’s lying.

Like Nixon, our current president is prolonging an endless, borderless and counter-productive war (“on terror”) and waging a parallel war against “national security” leakers that makes the plumbers’ burglary of Daniel Ellsberg’s psychiatrist’s office look almost quaint….

When it comes to issues of U.S. militarism and spying, the allegedly “progressive” MSNBC often seems closer to the “official network of the Obama White House” than anything resembling an independent channel. With a few exceptions (especially Chris Hayes), MSNBC has usually reacted to expanded militarism and surveillance by downplaying the abuses or defending them.

Had McCain or Romney defeated Obama and implemented the exact same policies, treating whistleblowers like Manning and Snowden as foreign espionage agents, one would expect MSNBC hosts to be loudly denouncing the Republican abuses of authority.

But with Obama in power, a number of MSNBC talking heads have reacted to the Snowden disclosures like Fox News hosts did when they were in hysterical damage control mode for Bush – complete with ridiculously fact-free claims and national chauvinism that we’ve long come to expect from the “fair & balanced” channel….

The Snowden/NSA story proves once again that — especially on so-called “national security” issues — we need strong, independent media not enmeshed with the corporate/political power structure and not allied with one of the two corporate parties.

We can’t count on MSNBC to heed the lesson taught by legendary independent journalist I.F. “Izzy” Stone, after years reporting from Washington: “All governments lie and nothing they say should be believed.”

You know what?  Other than the dig at Fox News, these substantive points just as easily could have been made by Rand Paul or Ted Cruz.

It’s a reflection of what I previously have called, in the context of Rand Paul’s drone filibuster, Finding common ground in limited government.

The common turf isn’t large, but it’s there, if we choose to find it.  But don’t expect the mainstream media to lead the way there.