"...the rest of the world rarely appears in the
American media. Indeed, it is virtually impossible in most American
cities, even though often more than a hundred TV channels are
fed into living rooms, to get any kind of regular flow of international
news. It is a shocking fact that one can be better informed on the
state of the world while sitting in a hotel room in Africa than in a
hotel room anywhere in America. From extensive personal experience, I can make this claim
confidently. For all practical purposes, America could well be on a
different planet, so cut off are Americans from flows of information about events outside
America." Kishore Mahbubani:
Beyond the Age of Innocence. pg 167
ranks last in hard news. This study found Americans are "especially uninformed
about international public affairs. " Scandinavians,
who benefit from well-funded public media,
are best informed and, not unrelated, best educated.
The FCC covered up a report that
concluded that concentration is devastating for local news and jobs. Our
political dysfunction, education failure, cultural
decline, and income inequality are
partly due to such media policy. Our money-driven Congress
failed us yet again.
Continued concentration of media creates politically powerful oligarchs who stamp out all but right-wing
propaganda, game elections, and churn out
plenty of distraction, trivia, misinformation, and, of course,
advertising (spam by another name.) The U.S. is one of two countries to
allow pharmaceutical advertising. As media concentrates further, be aware that
you will increasingly get non-stop, right-wing, propaganda. One way you know this is
the absence of climate change discussion.
Media missed the runup to the 2008 financial crisis, didn't find any problem with the pretext
for the war in Iraq, was slow to find off-shore prisons, played down torture,
and now is ignoring the implementation of universal surveillance.
"the press is owned by wealthy men who
have every interest in not having certain ideas expressed." Noam Chomsky
"A lie told once remains a lie but a lie told a thousand times becomes the truth" Joseph Goebbels
All the perks come to those that already have. I'm talking about free speech. I've said [reading] today for thousands, possibly millions of us,
it's almost axiomatic that in free-market democracies public opinion is manufactured like any other mass-market product:
soap,switches, or sliced bread. We know that while legally and constitutionally, speech may be free, the space in which
that freedom can be exercised has been snatched from us and auctioned to the highest bidders.
Neoliberal capitalism isn't just about the accumulation of capital for some, it's also about the accumulation of power for some,
and the accumulation of freedom for some. Conversely, for the rest of the world, the people who are excluded from neoliberalism's
governing body, it's about the erosion of capital, the erosion of power, the erosion of freedom.
And in the free markets, free speech is a commodity like everything else, just as human rights, drinking water, clean air,
it's available only to those who can afford it. Arundhati Roy
Often those in power strictly control the flow of
information, corroding and corrupting its content, of course, using
newspapers, radio, television and other mass means of communication to
carefully consolidate their authority and cover their crimes in a thick
veneer of fervent racialism or nationalism. And always with the spectre of some
kind of imminent public threat, what Hannah Arendt called ‘objective
enemies.’”: Charles Lewis 935
Totalitarian states use propaganda to orchestrate historical
amnesia, a state-induced stupidity. The object is to make sure the
populace does not remember what it means to be free. And once a population does not
remember what it means to be free, it does not react when freedom is
stripped from it." Wages
of Rebellion, the Moral Imperative of Revolt: Chris Hedges p57
"The Central Intelligence Agency owns everyone of any
significance in the major media." --Former CIA
Director William Colby
And what role does
the media contribute in that dumbing down of Americans?
It’s central. The
media has always been corrupt in the United States, and it’s more corrupt now than at any time I’ve ever
seen it. And I’ve spent a lot of time in media, starting with early
television. (From an interview
with Gore Vidal)
"If ownership patterns and economic imperatives
are creating a media space that is detrimental to democratic processes,
protections should be put in place to improve that environment. It may again be
time to exercise some of the caution present in early regulatory
mass media." The
Outrage Industry: Jeffrey M. Berry and Sarah Sobieraj
"IF A FISH COULD TALK AND YOU ASKED IT TO DESCRIBE ITS
ENVIRONMENT, THE LAST THING IT WOULD IDENTIFY WOULD BE . . .
A really efficient totalitarian state would be one in which the all powerful
executive of political bosses and their army and their managers control
a population of slaves who do not have to be coerced, because they love
their servitude. To make them love it is the task assigned, in present
day totalitarian states, to ministries of propaganda, newspaper editors
By simply not mentioning certain subjects… propagandists
have influenced opinion much more effectively than they could have done by the most eloquent
denunciations, the most compelling of logical rebuttals.
- - - Aldous Huxley, in his 1946 revised forward to
Brave New World
The corporate media system, with its fraudulent
'spectrum' of opinion, is a hammer that falls with a unified,
resounding crash on anyone who dares to challenge elite interests. It
works relentlessly to beat down human imagination, creativity and hope,
to smash the awareness, love and compassion that might otherwise
terminate the 'nightmare of history'. Is resistance futile? Will they
always win?" MediaLens
Fully captured by corporations and the corporate
states, the media
continue to dance around the issue of climate change. Occasionally a
forthright piece is published, but it generally points in the wrong
direction, such as suggesting climate scientists and activists be
killed (e.g., James Delingpole’s 7 April 2013 article in
the Telegraph). Guy
Before this year, Sunday show hosts did not
interview a single scientist about climate change when discussing the
issue on their
shows. In 2013, that trend narrowly came to an end when, in a single
episode of CBS' Face the Nation, the chief climatologist at Climate
Central, Heidi Cullen, illustrated how rising temperatures have already
affected weather extremes, and what would happen if climate change
continues to worsen. In that segment CBS also interviewed Dr. J.
Marshall Shepherd, the head of the American Meteorological Society, who
was counted as a scientist in our study due to his Ph.D. in
Meteorology. No other Sunday show hosted a scientist to discuss climate
"Bias in favor of the orthodox is frequently
mistaken for "objectivity". Departures from this ideological orthodoxy
are themselves dismissed as
ideological." Michael Parenti
"Advertising is tax deductible, so we all pay for the
privilege of being manipulated and controlled." Noam
"A community will evolve only when
the people control their means of communication."
"If you're not careful, the newspapers will have
you hating the people who are being oppressed, and loving the people
who are doing the oppressing." --- Malcolm X
Freedom of the press is guaranteed only to those
who own one.;A.J. Liebling.
the press has become the greatest power within
the Western countries, more powerful than the legislature, the
executive and the judiciary. One would then like to ask: by what law has it been
elected and to whom is it responsible? In the communist East a
journalist is frankly appointed as a state official. But who has
granted Western journalists their power, for how long a time and with
Alexander Solzhenitsyn, 1978
If you want to know what's really going on in a
society or ideology, follow the money. If money is flowing to
advertising instead of to musicians, journalists, and artists, then a
society is more concerned with manipulation that with truth or beauty.
If content is worthless, then people will start to become empty-headed
and content-less. The combination of hive mind and advertising has
resulted in a new kind of social contract. The basic idea of this
contract is that authors, journalists, musicians, and artists are
encouraged to treat the fruits of their intellects and imaginations as
fragments to be given without pay to the hive mind. Reciprocity takes
the form of self-promotion. Culture is to become precisely nothing but
advertising. Jaron Lanier, from You Are Not a Gadget
excerpt January 2010, Harper's Magazine.
"Our liberty depends on the freedom of the press,
and that cannot be limited without being lost" Thomas Jefferson quoted by
Gerard Colby in Into the
Buzzsaw. See also Want to Know.
If they can get you asking the wrong questions,
they don't have to worry about the answers." Thomas Pynchon quoted by
Al Gore in 'Assault on Reason'.
Along with its failure to cover the real story
behind the run-up to the Iraq war, the press in the United States bears a
major responsibility for the failure of the country to address some of
its most pressing problems. From the rising income gap between the rich
and the poor, to the tens of millions without health insurance, to our
tattered relationships globally, our news media have become incapable
of protecting the public interest. Instead of focusing the nation’s
attention on its troubles and helping to champion solutions, our major
news media are squandering their journalistic resources. They have
become timid, self-serving, and a hazard to our economic and political
Chester: Digital Destiny
Threats of law suits against journalists have
become the hallmark of the Bush administration in a not-too-clever
tactic used to silence independent media in the United States." --Wayne Madsen
"The people are the landlords of the public
airwaves, and the broadcast companies are the tenants. Under the present,
inverted system, the tenants pay no rent to the landlords, decide who
says what on TV and radio, and control the FCC, which is the supposed
leasing agent for the landlords. All attempts to use the tools of the
1934 act's public-interest standard have been rebuffed by the
broadcasters as alleged infringements of their First Amendment rights.
These attempts include efforts to improve children's programming, to
provide rights of reply, and to hold stations to broadcasting diverse
viewpoints on important controversial issues." Ralph Nader, Mother
Jones, April 1991.
Our electoral system has been demeaned and
trivialized. Television, the PACs, the transformation of our party
system--and, above all, the squalid political-advertising industry--are turning the
business of democracy into a kind of farce. I don't think most people
give serious attention to politics, which in its current degraded
condition scarcely warrants attention. Electoral politics has become a
kind of show; our elections have become a form of entertainment,
although not very good entertainment. The candidates are cast in the
roles of unpaid characters in a great television soap opera. And it is
one of the curses of our political system that there always seems to be
an election of some kind going on. J. William Fulbright in his book "The
Price of Empire" Pantheon, 1989.
Now that conglomerates can dominate the
expressions of opinion that flood the minds of the citizenry and selectively choose
the ideas that are amplified so loudly as to drown out others that,
whatever their validity, do not have wealthy patrons, the result is a
de facto coup d'tat overthrowing the rule of reason. Greed and Wealth
now allocate power in our society, and that power is used in turn to
further increase and concentrate wealth and power in the hands of the
few. From Al Gore's Assault
"... 'the media' is a part of modern life that
deserves to be monitored consistently. Its influence appears to grow
rather than diminish. There needs to be public scrutiny of the people
who own and control the various media platforms and of those who manage
and operate it on behalf of those owners and controllers." (Greenslade
blog, Guardian website, October 6, 2008 )
"If you're not careful the newspapers will have
you hating the oppressed
and loving the people doing the oppressing." Malcolm X
"I know of no country in which there is so little independence
of mind and real freedom of discussion as in America."
--Alexis de Tocqueville (1805-1859)
Media is in trouble in the US: newspapers are losing money, circulation,
shrinking staff, and there seems to be no end to it. Broadcasters do
almost no hard news. Public television has lost its way. Radio is no
longer relevant. The internet, cell
phones, automobiles, and even appliances
are morphing into a universal surveillance
device. Your TV will soon be watching and listening to you...if it
isn't already. Your late-model automobile and cell phone keep you
Media missed the lies about wars
in the Middle East, the runup to the financial crisis, the science
about climate change, and the election
rigging or corruption in our own government. That is
mostly because the news has become a profit center and media has
consolidated to serve only corporate
profiteers. Elections are a major windfall
for media, because Citizens
United allows big dark
money to buy attack ads that are poisonous for democracy.
information, there can be no democracy.
Although the financial sector is out of
control, we are facing a devastating climate crisis, the
dysfunctional so whatever challenges there are, people are distracted.
Most likely, nothing will get done. Media is partly responsible for political polarization.
When you turn on your TV in prime time and find people
eating worms, doesn't it give you pause? When the late breaking news is about
Tiger Woods' mistresses, Octomom, Anna Nicole, British
royalty, or a new release of Star Wars, do you think there are more important stories
? How is
advertising different than spam ?
(See the schedule for the Learning
Channel to see what Americans are learning.) U.S.
educational outcomes are in rapid decline compared to other countries.
Being misinformed, we cannot
address critical problems. It is no surprise US education
is in fast
decline. See Bill McKibben's book: The
Age of Missing Information.
So why does this matter ? Consider this story:
Bosnia had a storyline, a very clear storyline, and as a
result of that storyline the press, led by the New York Times and CNN
had an amazing impact on policy in the United States; I think there was
comparable coverage in Europe. Let's be clear: the reason the West
finally, belatedly intervened was heavily related to media coverage.
The reason Rwanda did not get the same kind of attention was
heavily related to media coverage - or the lack thereof.
Just a week ago, I was on a panel a the Museum of
Broadcasting in New York where Christiane Annanpour was challenged by a
panelist who said, 'You did a great job in Bosnia, why didn't you go to
Rwanda where far more people died ?' Her answer was astonishing:
politely but firmly 'I was in Rwanda. I did cover it. I know what was
happening but the O J Simpson trial was on and I couldn't get on the
air for CNN.'
One million people died in four months in an organised
genocide that has been matched only a few times this century. But CNN
was too busy. The Bosnia coverage really made a difference. Richard
Holbrooke, Index on
Censorship 3 1999.
When Murdoch minions: Ann Coulter,
Rush Limbaugh, Bill O'Reilly, Pat Robertson, spew hate at Americans, do you think they are
commentators who best serve the public interest ? (Think again,
broadcasters don't really believe there is such a thing as the public
interest.) By all accounts, journalism has deteriorated so that it now
makes sense to read the foreign press for more reliable
When you watch for a while you will find that main stream
media does not serve journalistic standards, consumer interests,
academic, cultural, entertainment, or much
of any public service. It is beholden to corporate
"If we have 'learned' from motion pictures and
television series that our nation is forever threatened by hostile alien forces,
then we are apt to support increased military spending and warlike
interventions. If we have 'learned' that inner city denizens are
violent criminals, then we are more apt to support authoritarian police
measures and cuts in human services to the inner city. (Michael
Parenti. The Humanist. November/December 1990.)
Despite raised standards in journalism, American
mainstream news is still heavily weighted in favor of corporate values, sometimes
blatantly, but more often subtly in routine conventions widely accepted
as “objective.” One is over dependence on official sources of
news….[O]veremphasis on news from titled sources of power has occurred
at the expense of of reporting “unofficial facts” and circumstances. In
a dynamic and changing society, the voices of authority are seldom the
first to acknowledge or even to know of new and disturbing
developments. Officials can be wrong.
Over reliance on the official view of the world can contribute to social
turbulence. Unable to attract serious media attention by conventional
methods, unestablished groups have had to adopt melodramatic
demonstrations that meet the other media standards of acceptable
news– visible drama, conflict, and novelty. If they are sufficiently
graphic, the news will report protests, demonstrations, marches,
boycotts, and self-starvation in public places (though not always their
underlying causes). But in the end, even that fails. Repeated melodrama
ceases to be novel and goes unreported. Social malaise or injustice
often are not known, by officialdom. Unreported or unpursued, these
realities have periodically led to turbulent surprises– such as the
social explosions that came after years of officially unacknowledged
structural poverty, continuation of racial oppression [race riots in
the 1960s], or damage from failed foreign policies [the revolution in
Over the years, the exaggerated demand for official credentials in the
news has given the main body of American news a strong conservative
cast….Where there are not genuinely diverse voices in the media the
result inevitably is an overemphasis on a picture of the world as seen
by the authorities or as the authorities wish it to be. Ben Bagdikian: The Media Monopoly
For a long time US media has increasingly concentrated so that now
a small number of corporations control everything you hear or see on
the 'news'. The largest media conglomerates are relatively small appendages
It is expensive to consolidate many small companies into
larger ones, and the result is heavy debt on the books of the
conglomerates. Heavy debt and speculative investors require burdensome
repayment, so news rooms are downsized, compromised, foreign
journalists are called home, and the quality of journalism has fallen
to a level that the foreign press is much better. Still, newspapers and
broadcasters are under heavy financial pressure.
McChesney, (see his video) the
author of "The Problem of the Media" and
other fine books,
likens the market for media to the portrayal in the Godfather when
"Michael Corleone, Hyman Roth, and the heads of
the U.S. gangster families meet on a patio in Havana to "divide" up
pre-Communist Cuba. Roth ceremonially gives each gangster a piece of
Cuba as he slices his birthday cake, which has the outline of Cuba on
it. AsRoth doles out the slices, he applauds the Batista
government for favoring private enterprise- that is, letting the
gangsters plunder the country. The gangsters fight among themselves
toget the biggest slice of Cuba- indeed the film revolves around
this theme-but they agree that they alone should own Cuba. Therefore,
it is with media policy making in the United States. Massive corporate
lobbies duke it out with each other for the largest share of the cake,
but it is their cake."
When AOL pumped up the books so that they could combine
with Time-Warner, the end result was a Foxified CNN.
The stock price of the combined company took a dive, but right-wing
Rupert Murdoch built an empire
of media companies including Fox News. His
tactics in Britain may yet cause lawsuits in the US. Meanwhile his news
programs are fountains of right-wing
misinformation. He employed almost every major Republican presidential candidate.
For example, see this Frontline video:
The Tribune Company, having been raided by realtor Sam Zell,
is now in bankruptcy,
but it continues to downsize.
The relentless concentration of media is not necessarily about making
money, it is to game the political process for corporations...which can
yield much more money and power too. Republicans want tax cuts before anything else.
I hear the New York Post loses money - BIG time, but they soldier on.
If the NY Post isn't interested in making money, what is their goal?
I hear the Washington Times loses money - BIG time.
If the Washington Times isn't interested in making money, what is their real motivation?
I believe FOX News loses money - BIG time.
If FOX News isn't interested in making money,what are they interested in?
their goal is to influence politics in this country.
These profit-hating companies exist for what reason?
The NY Post and FOX News are owned by Rupert Murdoch.
He doesn't want to make money, he wants to change our
politics. Murdoch pays millionaires to
tell the poor to vote for the party of millionaires.
Same for the Moonie
They pay hack writers to tell lies about Democrats and profits come last.
I don't know who owns Clear Channel, but whoever that is, they didn't
mind going as long as the Pigboy got
to scream race taunts at Obama,
that's what Clear Channel wanted and that's what they've gotten - until now.
These American-hating companies are NOT interested in making money.
They exist ONLY to tear down Obama, Democrats and fairness for the
Make no mistake. Corporate media can, and does, swing elections. US media has become the propaganda
arm of big money and the hidden US
government. It is, a weapon of mass distraction, a cheerleader for war, a conduit for official
lies, a cover for atrocities, a megaphone for right-wing hate speech, and a
determined enemy of democracy. It is largely owned by
war profiteers. It keeps voters ignorant. (note)
exploited, and pacified. Right wing radio is
inciting to violence.
Since the CIA has been an active participant
media, and seeing that we are allowed only right-wing propaganda on
mass media, it is not unreasonable to speculate that this development
is part of the vast right
wing conspiracy. We now have a dysfunctional government that serves
corporate interests. (aka Fascism.)
Ask your Congressman to support the public interest
instead of the corporate to preserve a semblance of democracy.
The Advertising Filter
It is clear that the corporate interest is almost never
the same as the public interest. Massive amounts of corporate money are
directed to elections, to lobbying, to
advertising, to media to insure that the outcome is theirs. Not yours. The Supreme
Court ruled in Citizens United
that corporations can spend
unlimited amounts of money for such things. The Chamber of Commerce is
effectively used to hide the actual identity of the source of
funding. It is in the interest of media to broadcast only paid
information. Since the public does not pay, there is no voice for the
public interest. The public is constantly misled. In addition, Republicans have been working to be
sure that there is no disclosure
of who is paying for the political ads. For media, elections are a profit
tsunami. For corporations, a legal way to buy elections.
The Tea Party movement was driven by large amounts of corporate money.
There is a major problem for anyone who runs for
president, especially a third-party candidate. No matter how long or
extensively you campaign in every state of the union, no matter how
large your audiences become, you cannot reach in direct personal
communication even 1 percent of the eligible voters. In essence, you
don't run for president directly; you ask the media to run you for
president or, if you have the money, you also pay the media for
exposure. Reaching the voters relies almost entirely on how the media
chooses to perceive you and your campaign. In short, this "virtual
reality" is the reality. Ralph Nader: Crashing
the Party. p154
In spite of the threat to democracy from concentrated media, Michael
Powell, backed by John McCain and President Bush,supported
still lower thresholds on media
ownership rules. Media issues, like many others decided by the
Bush administration, were largely decided in secret by major corporations who vigorously oppose any
public representation.Surprisingly, in the case of Powell's
determination to loosen the ownership rules, there was a massive
outcry. In addition to being anti-democratic, removing control from
localities, making media propagandists, there are many fewer jobs as a
result. The FCC
destroyed reports about this.
Associated Press Story: FCC ordered to Destroy
report on concentration of media ownership. "WASHINGTON - The Federal Communications Commission
ordered its staff to destroy all copies of a draft study that suggested
greater concentration of media ownership would hurt local TV news
coverage, a former lawyer at the agency says. Adam Candeub, now a law
professor at Michigan State University, said senior managers at the
agency ordered that "every last piece" of the report be destroyed. "The
whole project was just stopped - end of discussion," he said. Candeub
was a lawyer in the FCC's Media Bureau at the time the report was
written and communicated frequently with its authors, he said."
It didn't bother the Bush
administration though. Michael Powell, Colin's son, Chairman of the FCC was
strongly supported by Senator McCain. He moved to allow even more concentration,
and Bush backed him vigorously.
The disastrous Telecomm Act of 1996 was crafted by
industry for industry. The public was not represented. A portion of the airwaves
should be purchased by profit-making corporations, but an
equal part should be freefor public use. Campaign
finance problems could be significantly less if politicians did not
have to pay (extortion) for commercial airtime. Serious conversation is
barely possible given the attitudes of the 'anchors', the frequency of
commercial breaks, and the right-wing bias of corporate media.
"In the period since the September 11 attacks,
the impact of the Bush administration on press freedom has been threefold:
It has sought to influence the media in order to win the propaganda
battle over its war in Afghanistan; it has encouraged a censorious and
self-censorious environment in the United States, which has allowed the
administration to alter the fine balance between security and liberty
virtually unchallenged; and, owing to the wider war on terrorism, it
has deeply harmed the cause of press freedom around the world." from
the conclusion of David Dadge's book: Casualty of War.
policy brought us to this. Media has little
accountability, certainly not local accountability. There is little or
of viewpoint. No major media entities opposed the war in Iraq even though a large percentage of the public
did. The FCC is more concerned that broadcasters not say dirty words
then right wing, factually incorrect propaganda is dominating the
airwaves. A majority of Americans thought that Iraq
had something to do with 9/11
when there was no evidence to support it. Still isn't. With the exception of
the PBS program NOW, there are few programs that question
administration policy. Now
immediately came under fire from Bush appointee Tomlinson. Yet another
example of media repression.
Congress did exactly the
wrong thing in giving away public airwaves to a few politically connected (war
profiteering) corporations. The result
has been irresponsible commercial messages, violence, bad nutrition, propaganda, trivia,
disinformation,and rarely anything of public value. If our media
were not so
compliant, wemight not be at war in Iraq.As
they do not have information to decide, as real issues are absent from
media, as election results have little effect on public policy,
turnout has steadily declined, and government is now clearly
It is the function of US media to keep
people pacified, distracted,
for endless war, and at least apathetic about
real issues such as climate
The United States, which is supposedly spreading freedom
and liberty throughout the world, is in a fast decline regarding the
freedom of its own press. (From the annual worldwide press freedom
index from Reporters Without
A report prepared by the Center for Media
and Democracy said that many of the 69 stations took steps to blend
the fake segments into their news broadcasts. Some had their news
reporters or anchors read scripts supplied by corporations, the report
said, and many had altered screen graphics to include the station's
One of the stories that you
will not hear in the news is this: Republicans
have been leaders in the rush to further concentrate media. The Republicans on the FCC
attempted to hide a study detailing the damage. About
six corporations control everything you see, and they have an agenda.
Republicans have been the facilitators for the corporate agenda (which
includes perpetual war, media concentration, union busting, jobs
export, cheap labor, sweatshops, dumping pensions, shrinking
healthcare, and entitlement cuts.)
Ben Bagdikian's book, The Media Monopoly, updated
showed that media concentration had already proceeded too far. The Bush
administration accelerated the trend and got a free pass as a result.
Major US media supported Bush in
campaigns, were cheerleaders for the war in Iraq,
and, at best, did not do due diligence for major, critical stories
instead whitewashing the Bush failures. Be
careful what you believe when you are consuming US media.
In blatant disregard of such warnings, the Congress removed
restrictions on concentration of media
ownership in the 1996 Telecommunications Bill. Then Westinghouse/CBS
bought Infinity broadcasting for $4.9 billion, Time Warner and Turner
Broadcasting merged in a $6.7 billion dollar deal, Nynex bought Bell
Atlantic for $22.1 billion, Rupert Murdoch's News Corp acquired full
ownership of New World Communications Group for $3 billion making it
the largest TV station owner with 22 outlets, US West paid $10.8
billion for control of Continental Cablevision, Gannet acquired
Multimedia Entertainment for $1.7 billion; British Telecommunications
bought MCI for $23 billion, and now, the largest yet, the merger of
AT&T and TCI. Similar consolidation has occurred among newspapers.
As media cheer ever-larger mergers, competition has yet to appear.
Not only has media been relieved of public responsibility,
and become more concentrated, it has an agenda that only a fool would think is
'liberal'. Major television networks, radio, and newspaper
chains are conservative activists. Two of our major networks are
owned by defense/nuclear contractors, a third has verified links to
the CIA, and the
fourth benefited magnificently from large gifts to Congressmen.
Defense contractors or war profiteers could complain about
their first amendment rights, but they should NOT be allowed to own
Since television and other media account for most election
expense, they account for a major component of campaign finance, and
are the major beneficiaries of costly elections. What you will hear
about is the need for taxpayers to pay the bill to broadcasters for elections ... not that they have any
obligation to the public, or that the public is indeed the ultimate
owner of the broadcast spectrum. With the powerful media that we have
today, elections may never again have real meaning. Citizens United and
massive campaign expense is welfare for broadcasters. Democracy loses.
You need only look to see that our information streams are
now polluted. Television news has become less and less informative.
Pack journalism assures that we will see celebrity trivia, but only
distorted or blocked public issues. There was hardly a ripple when the
OJ Simpson trial pre-empted the State of the Union Address, no serious
public discussion of Healthcare 'reform', no mention of the 1100
economists (including 6 Nobel prize) winners who opposed the balanced
budget amendment, only discussion of regressive taxes, little
discussion of expensive, cold war, weapons systems which even the
military doesn't want, scant coverage of ordinary workers, but plenty
of coverage of President Clinton's affairs.
By framing trivial issues large, real problems are kept
from public view. Discussion becomes constrained. By omitting certain
information, the agenda is tightly controlled. Worse, conscientious reporters are
fired when stories become controversial. (Gary Webb's Dark Alliance for
example or CNN's April Oliver.)
Media filter out "inconvenient facts" like the
collapse of domestic economic opportunity to America's
role as the world's leading jailer, arms supplier, polluter, and human
rights abuser. (See McGowan's book "Derailing
Democracy, the America
the media doesn't want you to see.")
Are you surprised that
violence among children
is increasing? In 1989, Brandon Centerwall of the University
of Washington, Seattle,
established that television leads to violence, particularly in
children, and is a public health hazard. From 1990 to 1994 there
was a 22 percent increase in the rate of murder by teens aged 14 to 17.
The FBI's most recent juvenile arrest records support this grim
prediction: Weapons possession, aggravated assault, robbery, and murder
all rose more than 50 percent from 1987 to 1996. James Alan Fox of NortheasternUniversity's College
Justice warns that, without remediation,
the juvenile crime rate seems likely to increase. Although extensive
evidence now exists, this kind of information is rarely acknowledged in
the media. See studies
from Kansas State University
(look up the word 'violence' there.)
Some of the best studies of the effects of
modeling and imitation on subsequent aggression have been done in human
children, by psychologist Albert Bandura and others. These clearly show
that when a child is permitted to watch an adult, either live or on
film, committing aggressive actions, the likelihood of the child's
performing similar actions shortly thereafter is increased. " (The
Tangled Web: Melvin Konner, 2002: pg 198)
"An extraterrestrial being, newly arrived on
Earth--scrutinizing what we mainly present to our children in
television, radio, movies, newspapers, magazines, the comics, and many
books -- might easily conclude that we are intent on teaching them
murder, rape, cruelty, superstition, credulity, and consumerism. We
keep at it, and through constant repetition many of them finally get
it. What kind of society could we create if, instead we drummed into
them science and a sense of hope." Carl Sagan. The Demon-Haunted
World. Random House. 1995
"...children's overexposure to violence, in real life, newscasts,
or through audiovisual fiction, downgrades the value of emotions and
feeling in the acquisition and deployment of adaptive social behavior.
The fact that so much vicarious violence is presented without a moral
framework only compounds its desensitizing action."
Descartes' Error: Antonia R Damasio.
"...Today's children, who watch more television
than ever before (an average of 22,000 hours before graduating from high
school), according to the Washington Post, also "suffer from an
epidemic of attention-deficit disorders, diminished language skills,
and poor reading comprehension."
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has discovered a
direct link, and there is concern that TV might actually cause learning
disorders. "Most [heavy viewing] kids", says psychologist Jerome Singer, "show
lower information, lower reading recognition or readiness to reading,
[and] lower reading levels." They also "tend to show lower
less complex language usage". Very recent research in this field
TV might in fact physically stunned the growth of a developing brain."
from David Shenk's book, 'Data Smog, surviving the Information Glut'.
Surely, if television has this powerful affect, there
be some accountability. Although broadcasters should be held
responsible for this crime against our children, Congress rewarded
broadcasters with a massive giveaway of spectrum. http://www.nader.org/releases/63099.html
time we made a connection between media content and our knowledge of
reality. Although many blame schools for learning deficiencies, it is
only reasonable to hold media accountable for the violence, shock,
trivia, and corporate spam. Broadcasters have betrayed yet another
Broadcasters are rewarded for keeping us ignorant.
They are responsible for the denial of climate change that will become
a tangible threat to everyone. They do not criticise or identify the
problems that cause regular financial collapse. They do not
examine politician's pretexts for war.
It is no wonder that our education outcomes are behind.
Broadcasters are largely responsible for our failed
education. (Check the schedule for the learning channel....they are better than
Media and Democracy
The Telecommunications Act had no detectable consumer
benefit (Senator McCain said that the only one NOT represented was the public), but has
made most of us the target of telemarketers, price gouging (not only at
pay phones), and no reductions of bills. Wireless phones, which are
cheap and ubiquitous in Israel
(even small children have them), are major expense items in the US...and
a tracking device.
is now a two-class society: Those
with a voice that can be heard, and those without. People who do not
have significant financial strength have no voice, should be delivered
to advertisers, and need to be controlled. To demonstrate this the FCC
raided and forcibly shut down low power broadcasters. Depriving
ordinary people of a voice completes the process of media control.
Considering the small number of entities involved,
communication can easily be brought under control of the national
security state. Even the potential for that kind of control should trigger public concern,
regulation, and anti-trust action. But no. People have been robbed of much of the
benefit of communication technology, advertisers may exploit and
propagandize them at will, broadcasters under no public responsibility,
and it is ominous that surveillance capability is now required by law
for all electronic communications.
and concentrated media are inherently authoritarian. Free speech and free elections may be an illusion from
the past. Any hope of restoring true democracy, and with it a better
breed of politicians, depends largely on stopping welfare to
broadcasters, cleaning up our polluted information streams, and
creating a better informed electorate. Debates are
limited to two candidates and the discussion is diverted to trivial,
distracting, personal issues of the remaining two candidates. Recently
there have been some encouraging signs that the broadcasters
are going to get off the stage.
What are the prospects of ever again getting a government
that would truly govern on behalf of all people ? Of ever again getting
politicians we can trust and respect? It won't happen as long as we
keep losing the propaganda war. As long as most people are deluded into
believing that free market forces prevails, that the best government is
the least government, that we are helpless pawns in the game of global
competition, and that concentrated media is OK, then we will continue
to get the kind of disastrous governance that now prevails.
Project Censored "Media criticism
does exist in
America. But by and large, it is not citizen-based criticism designed
to make media a better source of information in a democracy. Instead,
it is a cynical manipulation of the discourse designed to silence even
the mildest dissent..." - Robert McChesney and John Nichols. Other
notable sites on media include FAIR
and FREE PRESS.
A host of recent developments have made it clear that the
Bush White House is doing battle against the journalistic standards and
practices that underpin of our democracy. With its unprecedented
campaign to undermine and stifle independent journalism, Bush & Co.
have demonstrated brazen contempt for the Constitution and considerable
fear of an informed public.
Free Press has launched a campaign to chronicle and combat
Bush’s war on the press. Today, we published a new report
showing the scope and intensity of the administration’s assault on
press freedoms. The growing list of attacks on the press is truly
Infiltrating Public Broadcasting
White House loyalists inside the Corporation for Public
Broadcasting have launched a crusade to remake PBS, NPR and other
public media into official mouthpieces. Kenneth Tomlinson’s tenure at
the CPB was characterized by targeting journalists like Bill Moyers who
dared to air dissenting voices or prepare investigative reports on the
Tomlinson's goal was clearly to fire a shot across the
bow of all public stations so managers would shy away from the sort of
investigative journalism that might expose Bush administration
malfeasance. Tomlinson resigned in disgrace but left behind a cast of
cronies to carry out his partisan crusade. And we still don’t know the
extent to which Karl Rove and others at the White House orchestrated
Manufacturing Fake News
Under Bush administration directives, at least 20 federal
agencies have produced and distributed scores of "video news releases"
out of a $254 million slush fund set up to manufacture taxpayer-funded
propaganda. These bogus and deceptive stories have been broadcast on TV
stations nationwide without any acknowledgment that they were prepared
by the government rather than local journalists.
The segments — which trumpeted administration
promoted its controversial line on issues like overhauling Medicare,
and featured Americans "thanking" Bush — have been repeatedly labeled
"covert propaganda" by investigators at the Government Accountability
The administration has paid pundits to sing its praises.
Earlier this year, TV commentator Armstrong Williams pocketed $240,000
in taxpayer money to laud Bush’s education policies. Three other
journalists have since been discovered on the government dole; and
Williams admits that he has "no doubt" that other paid Bush shills are
still on the loose.
The administration has even exported these tactics.
to the Los Angeles Times, the U.S. military is now secretly
paying Iraqi newspapers to publish stories written by American troops.
Lying about the Iraq War
The White House saw the battle for domestic popular
as one of the main fronts in the war in Iraq. With the help of a
compliant media, truth became the first casualty in their campaign to
whip up support. But rather than admit to their lies and
misinformation, the administration continues to attack those reporting
As Frank Rich recently wrote in the New York Times,
the administration’s "web of half-truths and falsehoods used to sell
the war did not happen by accident; it was woven by design and then
foisted on the public by a P.R. operation built expressly for that
purpose in the White House."
Eliminating Dissent in the Mainstream Media
Bush all but avoided traditional press
down a prime venue for holding the executive accountable. On those rare
occasions when he deigned to meet reporters, presidential aides turned
the press conferences into parodies by seating a friendly right-wing
“journalist,” former male escort Jeff Gannon, amid the reporters and
then steering questions to him when tough issues arose.
They have effectively silenced serious questioners, like
veteran journalist Helen Thomas, by refusing to have the president or
his aides call on reporters who challenge them. And they have
established a hierarchy for journalists seeking interviews with
administration officials, which favors networks that give the White
House favorable coverage.
Gutting the Freedom of Information Act
The administration has scrapped enforcement of the
Information Act and has made it harder for reporters to do their jobs
by refusing to cooperate with even the most basic requests for comment
and data from government agencies. This is part of a broader clampdown
on access to information that has made it virtually impossible for
journalists to cover vast areas of government activity.
Consolidating Media Control
The administration continues to make common cause with the
most powerful broadcast corporations in an effort to rewrite ownership
laws in a manner that favors monopoly control of information. The
Federal Communications Commission will announce plans to rewrite the
ownership rules soon – it could happen as early as February – with aims
of unleashing a new wave of media consolidation. The administration’s
desired rules changes would strike a mortal blow to local reporting and
further squeeze journalists.
In a famous 1945 opinion, Supreme Court Justice Hugo
Black said that "the First Amendment rests on the assumption that the widest
possible dissemination of information from diverse and antagonistic
sources is essential to the welfare of the public, that a free press is
a condition of a free society." In other words, a free press is the sine
qua non of the entire American Constitution and republican
We started Free Press because our democracy demands a
diverse and independent media. The Bush administration’s attack on the
foundations of self-government requires a response of similar caliber.
I hope you’ll join me in the year ahead as Free Press works to hold the
administration accountable for all its attacks on journalism and see
that such abuses will not be repeated in the future.
Please take a moment to visit our online campaign
to defend democracy from the White House assault on the media.
"In a time of
telling the truth is a revolutionary act"
- George Orwell
"A substantial percentage of scientists also say that the
news media have done a poor job educating the public. About three-quarters
(76%) say a major problem for science is that news reports fail to
distinguish between findings that are well-founded and those that are
not. And 48% say media oversimplification of scientific findings is a major problem. The scientists are
particularly critical of television news coverage of science. Just 15%
of scientists rate TV coverage as excellent or good, while 83% say it
is only fair or poor. Newspaper coverage of science is rated somewhat
better; still, barely a third (36%) of the scientists say it is
excellent or good, while 63% rate it as only fair or poor." (Survey 7/2009)
Of course broadcasters vigorously oppose the fairness doctrine. It is ok for US
broadcasters to lie, unlike Canadians for example.
David Dadge's book "Casualty
of War" details Bush assault on the free press.
This is terrible for democracy. I have been in 47 states
of the USA since 9/11, and I can attest to the horrible impact the
deterioration of journalism has had on the national psyche. I have
found America a place of great and confused fearfulness, in which
cynically placed bits of misinformation (e.g. Cheney's, "If John Kerry
had been President during the Cold War we would have had thermonuclear
war.") fall on ears that absorb all, without filtration or
fact-checking. Leading journalists have tried to defend their mission,
pointing to the paucity of accurate, edited coverage found in blogs,
internet sites, Fox-TV and talk radio. They argue that good
old-fashioned newspaper editing is the key to providing America with
credible information, forming the basis for wise voting and enlightened
governance. But their claims have been undermined by Jayson Blair's
blatant fabrications, Judy Miller's bogus weapons of mass destruction
coverage, the media's inaccurate and inappropriate convictions of Wen
Ho Lee, Richard Jewell and Steven Hatfill, CBS' failure to smell a con
job regarding Bush's Texas Air Guard career and, sadly, so on. Laurie Garrett's
resignation letter from Newsday (subsidiary of the Tribune.)
MEDIA MONOPOLY by Ben Bagdikian. (Beacon Press. Boston.
updated 1992.)Media is, increasingly, concentrated. Although the
situation was bad enough in 1992 when this book was first published,
the trend has accelerated.
CONSENT. Edward S. Herman and Noam Chomsky. Pantheon Books, New
How issues are framed and topics chosen. Documents how propagandistic
our mass media are, the manner in which the marketplace and the
economics of the media shape the news. Edward Herman is Professor of
Finance at the WhartonSchool
of the University of Pennsylvania.
Noam Chomsky is an
MIT professor, Department of Linguistics and Philosophy.
More You Watch, the Less You Know. Danny Schechter. Seven Stories
Press. 1997. "In America,
the very idea of using publicly owned airwaves to broadcast in the
public interest has been under attack for decades. Privatization is our
ruling ideology in part because privately owned media restricts serious
discussion of how it might be different. They do so less to serve
abstract ideology that concrete interests, but the deeper effect is to
undermine the very idea of a public interest."
WILL TELL THE PEOPLE. William Greider. Simon and Shuster 1992. Who
who gets ignored, and why. Relationships that link politicians with
corporations and subvert the needs of ordinary citizens. How modern
"methodologies of persuasion" from public relations firms,
direct mail companies, opinion-polling firms, foundations, and
consultants, have created a new hierarchy of influence over government
decisions. A lone congressman who tries to represent the public
interest can find himself aligned against an army of well paid
authorities. The institutions designed to represent people: unions,
political parties, press, are gone or transformed so radically that
they no longer speak for the people. With lone exceptions, no one is
intelligently monitoring the action for the taxpayers and alerting them
to trouble. Political parties used to perform this role, but have
abandoned it. The media report on selected events, but style and focus
of their news do not fulfill this function either. Neither, for that
matter, do the ranks of reformers and civic organizations, which are
mostly devoted to their own specific issues.
by Angus Mackenzie, University
Press, 1997. subtitled the CIA's war at home.
Describes the CIA's
illegal, direct intervention into the domestic press.
News That Didn't Make the News and Why. Carl Jensen (Founder of Project
Censored) The Top Censored story: The Great Media Sellout to Reaganism.
In return for loosened regulation, big media dispensed relentlessly
positive news about Reaganism and the great trickle-down dream. The FCC
relieved broadcasters of traditional public service requirements, made
it almost impossible for citizens groups to challenge station license
renewals and lifted limits on the number of stations a single
corporation can acquire.
Sound & Fury. Eric
Alterman. The Washington Punditocracy and the collapse
of American Politics. A community that lacks the means to detect lies,
. . . also lacks the means to preserve its own liberty.
Kingmakers, How the Media Threatens Our Security and Our Democracy;
Senator Mike Gravel and David Eisenbach, Phd.
Digital Destiny: Jeff Chester How
Congress sold out the public interest to conglomerate media for money.
Excellent description of the issues, and good ideas to improve policy.
What you don't know can hurt you, but don't expect broadcasters to tell
you about it.
Centerwall, Brandon S., "Exposure to television as a risk
violence," American Journal of Epidemiology, 129/4, pp 643-652, April
1989. An Epidemiologist who has examined the evidence and found that
media causes violence.
Democracy, The America The Media Doesn't want you
to see. Dave McGowan, Common
Courage Press, 2000. "Following the same
course that virtually every other major industry has in the last two
relentless series of mergers and corporate takeovers has consolidated
of the media into the hands of a few corporate behemoths. The result
that an increasingly authoritarian agenda has been sold to the American
by a massive, multi-tentacled media machine that has become, for all
and purposes, a propaganda organ of the state." --Dave McGowan, from
introduction to "Derailing
The Decline and Fall of Public Broadcasting: David
Gang. One Newspaper versus the Gannett Empire. Richard Mccord, University
Press. 1996. This excellent book was an award winner, but you didn't
hear about it from the newspapers. Richard Mccord, University
Breaking the News. How the Media undermine American
James Fallows. Pantheon Books. New York.
Stealing Time, Steve Case, Jerry Levin, and the Collapse
AOL Time Warner: Alec Klein
Abandoned in the Wasteland. Newton
Minow. (Formerly of the FCC) Children are not the only victims of
broadcasting, but Minow is not too concerned about the rest of us.
The Newscasters by Ron Powers: 1980. St.
Martins Press. "Until local television news ceases to exploit the
entertainment bias that is conditioned by its host medium, and shares
some of the profit with its "market" in the form of comprehensive,
compact newscasts, it is engaging in a pollution of the worst sort: a
pollution of ideas. Its options should be the same as those of any
polluter: clean up the mess or pay the consequences.
HOW TO TALK BACK TO YOUR TELEVISION SET. Nicholas Johnson.
Press. 1970. This book is old, but the problems described are more
today. (Nicholas Johnson was a member of the FCC.)
"By the time American kids are 18 years old they have
26,000 murders on television alone. Heavy metal and rap lyrics often
encourage rape and bigotry. It is contrary to common sense and research
to think you can create such a culture and not have any effects."
(From: Boys will be Boys: Breaking the link between masculinity and
violence, by Myriam Miedzian. reviewed in Time magazine 9/16/91.)
The FCC: The Ups and Downs of Radio-TV Regulation, by
William B. Ray, Ames, Iowa:
1991. (Ray has been there. Chief of complaints for the FCC.) TV and radio programs
have often broadcast wildly inaccurate news and/or information, only to
be inadequately policed by the FCC. How Eisenhower FCC licensed only
Republican stations, LBJ became wealthy, corruption in station
licensing (assign then justify), and the disgraceful Reagan FCC
promoted trafficking in stations, eliminated the fairness rules and
generally has abandoned its role as protector of the public interest.
Read All About It! James D. Squires. How Corporate owners
of American Newspapers have sacrificed the ideals of a free press for
profit and how democracy has suffered as a result. Insights into the
relationship between the Chicago Tribune and the Cubs (baseball team),
and on ownership of the New York Daily News. (Al Neuharth appears
frequently. See his "how I became an SOB".)
THE NEXT CENTURY, David Halberstam, 1991, William Morrow
Company, Inc., New York.
"Thanks to television, the national agenda becomes not what our
long-range or our most pressing problems are, but those that produce
the best film. This means that in a mass democratic society, the most
critical part of the communications circulatory system, network
television, is essentially blocked. As the network news format
trivializes political debate, the political system adapts to it.
Serious discussion of serious issues is too complicated. Candidates and
their advisers learn what the networks want: a telegenic background and
a hyped-up attack or counterattack, the more simplistic the better.
Television runs only ten and fifteen second sound bites from our
leading politicians; soon the politicians begin to talk in such brief
bites; finally they begin to think in them."
The Electronic Republic. Lawrence
K Grossman. Viking. Twentieth Century Fund Book. 1995. Lawrence K.
Grossman former head of NBC news and president of the Public
Broadcasting Service describes events at NBC after it was purchased by
General Electric. Mr. Grossman has excellent recommendations but, as
always, Republicans are on the other side. The fact is there is strong
control of the press and communications by a small group that are
control our agenda for their own ends.
Three Blind Mice: How the Networks lost their way. Ken
Auletta; Random House; 656 pages. "Now everyone can see how a diet
deprived of independent journalism in the mass market, that is can
shrink society's stomach for the truth." It may not be possible to
reform an information-delivery system so deeply commingled with the
political and economic command system that is so well entrenched in
this country. "Book review in Time, August 12, 1991 (p 60):
George Orwell: 'In an age of deceit, speaking the truth
is a revolutionary act'.
Any dictator would admire the uniformity and obedience of the (U.S.) media.