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Reply #27: The Dilemma we Face in an Era of Right Wing Control of our News Media (Time for change) - x [View All]

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tiptoe Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-30-09 06:32 AM
Response to Reply #26
27. The Dilemma we Face in an Era of Right Wing Control of our News Media (Time for change) - x
Edited on Thu Jul-30-09 07:22 AM by tiptoe

The Dilemma we Face in an Era of Right Wing Control of our News Media Time for change

Most Americans do not share the values of the Republican Party, blue dog Democrats, or our corporate news media: Most Americans would like their government to provide a national health care plan; most believe that women should not be branded as criminals for choosing to have an abortion; most believe we should have laws to require a higher minimum wage than we have; the list goes on and on. So right wingers need something other than their policies to get the votes they need to win elections.

Our Founding Fathers, recognizing that a free flow of information is essential for the maintenance of democracy, enacted the First Amendment to our Constitution in order to address that need. Such a free flow of information would be instrumental in exposing the Republican Party and its allies for what they are.

But the virtual monopoly by supporters of the Republican Party on the ownership of major news sources in our country does much to stem the free flow of information. In the lead-up to the Iraq War, our corporate news media failed to explain to the American people that the Bush administrations case for invading Iraq was based on little or no evidence; even now they refuse to inform us in any detail of the hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilian deaths resulting from our invasion and occupation of their country.

During both the 2000 and 2004 elections they did everything they could to elect and re-elect George Bush to the presidency: They failed to follow-up on clear evidence that Bush had failed to fulfill his National Guard commitments; and they failed to explain to the American people that the proposed Bush tax cuts would benefit only our wealthiest citizens. In marked contrast to their protection of Bush, they did everything they could to destroy Gores and Kerrys candidacies: During the 2000 Presidential race, Al Gore, one of the most decent men to ever run for the U.S. Presidency, was recast as a liar and an egomaniac. His resounding victory over George W. Bush in debate after debate was recast by our corporate media as a humiliating defeat by repeatedly emphasizing his sighs, rather than the numerous Bush lies that were the cause of those sighs. In 2004, John Kerry, a legitimate war hero, was recast as a fraud, through the constant repetition of lies promulgated by an organization with close (but unrevealed at the time) ties to George W. Bush.

The rise of the corporate (phony) news media in the United States

Though national news in our country has always been slanted in favor of the privileged over the vulnerable, it has nevertheless long been recognized in our country that the use of the public airways is a privilege rather than a right. That is why, as early as 1927 our government began requiring licenses for use of the public airways, in the Radio Act of 1927, which was expanded in the Communications Act of 1934. Since then, the underlying standard for radio and television licensing has been the public interest, convenience and necessity clause, which is explained here by Sharon Zechowski:

The obligation to serve the public interest is integral to the "trusteeship" model of broadcasting the philosophical foundation upon which broadcasters are expected to operate. The trusteeship paradigm is used to justify government regulation of broadcasting. It maintains that the electromagnetic spectrum is a limited resource belonging to the public, and only those most capable of serving the public interest are entrusted with a broadcast license

But with the passage of the Telecommunications Act of 1996, we began to see a rapid decline in the quality of the news we receive. By relaxing rules that prohibited monopoly control of telecommunications, that Act led to the concentration of the national news media of the United States largely into the hands of a very few wealthy corporations, to an extent never before seen in our country. This, more than any other event, has allowed the content of the news received by American citizens to be determined by a small number of very wealthy and powerful interests. Hence the pervasive blackout of meaningful news.

David Podvin and Carolyn Kay explain how Jack Welch, the former CEO of General Electric, put this process into play at NBC:

The new dimension that Welch introduced was the concept that the mainstream media should aggressively advance the political agenda of the corporations that own it. He did not see any difference between corporate journalism and corporate manufacturing Business was business, and the difference between winners and losers was profit From Welchs perspective, it was insanity for the corporate owners of the mainstream media to restrain themselves from using all of their assets to promote their financial well being. In general, he saw corporate news organizations as untapped political resources that should be freed from the burden of objectivity.

The implications for democracy

The implications for national politics have been quite unfortunate, as Democrats feel the need to move further and further to the right, lest they risk being ignored, mocked, or attacked by our corporate news media.

This situation is intolerable. A free and independent press, which provides unbiased accurate information to the people, is crucial to a healthy functioning democracy. When most of the press is under the control of corporate interests, which strive to tilt elections in their favor, democracy becomes nothing but a fig leaf. The result is not only a playing field tilted heavily towards the conservative (Republican) Party, but also that the more progressive (Democratic) Party is intimidated into moving way to the right. The American people suffer for that because the corporate interests are served at the expense of the vast majority of people.

An article by Eric Alterman in The Nation makes this point. With respect to the so-called mainstream news media:

Its members consistently defer to conservative Republican Presidents with a history of deliberate deception, allowing them to define their terms Its members invite Republican Congressmen, known to be not merely unreliable but delusional, to lie about Democratic Congressmen. When challenged, they reply that they cannot be bothered to discern the truth

What might this have to do with President Obamas tilt to the right?


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