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WHAT LIBERAL MEDIA?
Rush, Sean, the Billous One, and other bloviators like Ann Coulter have long complained about media bias. A LIBERAL bias. Imagine my shock when after searching long and hard for such a welcome viewpoint, that no such bias exists. To the contrary, today’s media has become shallow, insipid, brain-dead, and worst of all, boring. When six countries are at each others’ throats in the middle east, (Palestine, Israel, Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran, Turkey) corporate media thinks that we are more concerned missing besotted blond bimbettes, or dead children whose parents abused them, forcing them into beauty contests at the age of four (JonBenet), or worst of all, what some faux plumber who is not named Joe thinks about McCain’s economic plans.
Worse yet, in today’s era of instant global communications, America’s MSM has been notable not for its successes, but its failures. Here’s a short list:
A bunch of Afghanistan-based Yemeni and Saudi religious freaks advertised their intentions to attack the USA, and but for the burro-cratic screw-ups populating the top offices in the FBI, (I am being kind), and the utter lack of ability to do her job by exhibited by Condi Rice, they would have failed. Instead, they stole some jets, killed a bunch of people and knocked down several buildings.
America’s response? We invade Iraq, probably the only country in the region with absolutely nothing to do with 9/11.
Where was the MSM on this massive screw-up? Missing in action. Even today, when most Americans acknowledge that Iraq has been a super-expensive, deadly, and total cluster-fuck, MSM is pulling its people out of Iraq. Apparently, there is no story worth investigating there. Not even the fact that our DOD broke federal laws by using illlegal propaganda techniques domestically. Nor the upcoming failure of government, the Kurdish war, the Sunni Shia battles, the Baathist resurgence, Iran’s actions, continuing fraud by US contractors, and of course, death. Lots of death. Disease, Hunger. And death.
Another disease the current MSM has is the manufacture of heros, as though America cannot choose its own. Condi is the perfect example. Way out of her league, she blew personally and professionally blew the whole 9/11 episode. Her pitiful mushroom cloud comments were accepted by the MSM without question. Her first Russian visit was an international disaster, yet portrayed as a success domestically. Her lack of knowledge and experience was magnified by her inept inability. Her promotion to SexState convinced many abroad that her boss was a certifiable lunatic. Once there, her aggressive attitude, demanding ways, and shallow, prickly behavior was applauded by the MSM, when the rest of the world held their collective breath, wondering how much longer they would have to suffer this fool.
MSM’s treatment of Condi Rice was and remains reprehensible. Not one hard question, not one investigation, not one critical story was aired about her. She was MSM’s darling, and they did their collective best to present her only in glowing terms. Even today, she is a MSM star, despite eight years of wreckage, destruction, blood, consistent failures, and war.
FISA, Patriot Act, illegal spying pre-9/11
One cannot help but be awed by how the MSM dropped the ball on what used to be traditional American Values (and not the make believe crap that the GOP pretends to follow). Somehow, between the ultra-right religious infiltration of society, the aggressive, myth-based neocon agenda promoted by the Administration pushed aside what America used to stand for, and for a time, confused Americans enough to pass fascist legislation.
As Boy Wonder told us, “They hate us for our freedoms,” so the administration’s response was to take our freedoms away? Bah.
In March of 1933, a newly sworn-in President Franklin Roosevelt greeted an anxious, tired, and scared country with these words: “This great nation will endure as it has endured, will revive, will prosper . . . Let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself . . . . nameless, unjustified terror paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance.”
Boy Wonder’s response? “Now, watch this drive.”
US Attorney firings
Since the corporate take-over of the news, once thriving regional papers have closed, or been turned into mindless pap, with canned stories replacing (expensive) local reporting. Radio has gone from a robust art form, to a choice of three: Bad sports talk, bad conservative talk, and bad music. Clear Channel’s buying spree, along with its competition, has done more to destroy radio than any other factor. TV news? Hah. If there is a fire, a murder, or a big nasty crash, it may get covered, but only if the missing blond bimbette story or OJ aren’t mentioned.
Is it any surprise that a more complex, more devastating, and far-reaching story like the firing of US Attorneys for political reasons, never made it into the news? Or the related political arrest, judicial abuse, and eventual imprisonment of Alabama Gov. Siegelman? Or the fake voter fraud cases being pushed in 2004 and 2006? Where was the media investigation of these events?
Our MSM’s behavior over the past eight years has been pathetic. Since when did they become lapdogs, sucking up to the Scooter Libbys, pushing canned, planted, even fake pro-Administration stories, gladly, even proudly accepting the chance to dance with Karl Rove at a press party? If it weren’t for some intrepid intertube reporters from TPM, digging, investigating, and (AHEM. Hey, MSM! Pay attention here. This point is directed to you. I will type really slowly so even you get it:) R E P O R T I N G on these issues, the crimes committed by this White House, Karl Rove in specific, would never have been discovered.
Corruption and torture in Iraq
A cargo plane carrying pallets of of US currency landed in Baghdad, and promptly fell off the proverbial radar screen. The billions of dollars sent secretly to Iraq went missing with no investigation or comment by our MSM. Contractors, those not using slave labor, routinely won no-bid contracts on a cost-plus basis. Translation: The more they wasted, the bigger their profit. Even worse, their quality control has resulted in US troops eating bad food, (not just not tasty, but poisonous) drinking bad water (The ice they used to store corpses was used in drinks served to US troops), being electrocuted in the shower, not to mention out and out fraud stealing US taxpayer money.
As for torture? The NYT was asked to hold off publishing photos and proof of US torture policies. BEFORE the 2004 election. And the NYT obeyed, helping a criminal president be re-elected.
What happened to that once proud profession? Where was the MSM? Comfortably embedded with troops trained to provide only one side of the story. It is true that a very few number of reporters did go off the reservation, and tried to report on the real facts. Two things happened to them: i) they were iced out of any information flow from the US military, ii) they were shot. (Iraq-based reporters have had the highest casualty rate of any war or occupation).
These are but a few of our MSM’s failures. But what is the cause? And what is the solution, if one exists?
The problem can be summed up in one term: Corporate Ownership. Media conglomerates do not compete, they control and direct programming, even news programming, from above. Today’s corporate media moguls thought that by buying out the competition, they could increase profits, lower costs, and manipulate the news to their benefit.
It is almost amusing that Corporate Ownership has sown the seeds of its own destruction. With every take-over of smaller papers, with every computerized programming effort, with the dumbing down of the news, and turning it into infomercial junk, the corporate owners thought that they were squeezing profits out in ways never before attempted. No longer were 4% returns appropriate; 14% was their goal. With every firing, consolidation, cutting of staff, dropping of resources, they forgot that one key ingredient – their audience.
What was worse was the political tone that spread throughout Corporate MSM, especially the last 8 years. Hard questioning of Bush, Cheney, or Condi was deemed off-limits. Questioning policy decisions or military, economic, or social policy fiascoes could not happen, lest the media be painted with some imaginary broad “traitor” brush. In many ways by design (Clear’s ban of Dixie Chicks), and in others by circumstance, America’s MSM became both a corporate message machine, as well as scared of its own shadow (much like the Democratic leadership in Congress). Even Katrina, with its floating, rotting corpses, did not wake up MSM and force it to reassess its warm, friendly relationship to this administration.
Some people, especially on the far left, have called for the return of the so-called Fairness Doctrine. With that tool, they think that they could match Rush’s and Sean’s lines and lies, step by step, word for word. They are wrong. Frankly, the Fairness Doctrine is a canard. We live in a different world, and we no longer have three TV, five radio stations, and a morning or evening newspaper as our sole access to world events. This law will not solve anything.
You cannot mandate content from the top down, as we see each day. The Corporate Ownership has tried, for eight years, to force its pro-business opinions (tort reform, Medicare’s Prescription mess, and so many more) down America’s throat. Yet, despite that constant pro-business drum beat, most Americans are willing to seek national health care, a quick exit from Iraq, stem cell research, and a real Department of Justice, among other “socialist” and “liberal” ideas.
Simply matching or replacing the conservative slant currently in the MSM with a liberal or progressive tone will not fix the problem. Eventually, any liberal message would have the same track record as the conservative outlets, ie eventual failure. (which would give Rush even more gristle to choke on, between his Viagra and Oxycontin binges) Unfortunately, the disease (Corporate control and consolidation) remains in place.
Clearly, there is great interest in news. Blogs and websites discuss Palestine, Syria, China, and Euro-Dollar exchange rate with far more detail and interest than you would ever find on CNN, Fox, ABC, NBC, or CBS. There is a possible solution to the MSM mess. The solution is divestiture. No more massive media chains, controlling and directing how news is reported to 80% of the population. Small papers would again go back to their 4% profits, but again concentrate on local stories of interest. Radio stations would compete for listeners, not by following the political and programing whims of Wall Street or Clear, but by being creative and interesting.
Clearly there is a need for national news services. The costs of on the spot reporting, foreign events, and investigative journalism would all improve with competition, instead of consolidation. If we returned to certain limits on the numbers of papers, stations and TV outlets any one company could own, perhaps the individual media outlets would realize that survival means that their product has to be good. And for their product to be good, news needs to be investigated, confirmed and reported.
What a nice change that would be. Of course, if MSM wakes up and starts doing its job, the first target would be the Obama Administration. That’s fine, in fact, that would be welcome. If the MSM started asking tough questions again, it would likely benefit both the new administration and the country. Intelligent discussions of American policy and America’s problems would be far better than wondering if JonBenet’s mommy was a killer. Besides, if the new administration collects any criminal elements, like the Bush Administration did, I suspect that they would want that out in the open sooner than later, so they deal with the problem. Under Bush, such folks either received a presidential medal or a promotion.