Corporate Control of Media – post Katrina

People need to read this article.  I have been around the national media enough in the last few years to recognize the essential truth of much of what this man has to say.

I found the quality of reporting in the Katrina crisis to be very good, amazingly good, but I suspected that once the shock of the disaster wore off, television news would be back to "softballing" criticism of the White House and repeating the "talking points" of the day.

With a few exceptions we no longer have a press/media in this country that functions as a "fourth estate."  Instead, we have an industry that functions as all industries function.  In business the Bottom Line is all, and advantage must be sought where it can be found.  If that means that you have to muzzle your reporters, then, from the point of view of corporate "rulers" of the media, so be it!

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14 Responses to Corporate Control of Media – post Katrina

  1. RJJ says:

    Media power is based on viewership.
    Supporting these pimps is
    * elective (not required by law),
    * discretionary (not required by necessity),
    * unconscionable.

  2. BostonGemini says:

    I’m glad to see this post here. I believe that media consolidation/homogenization is perhaps the biggest problem facing this country — because it affects how all others are viewed. Media self-censorship (based on what’s good for the bottom line) dictates and severely restricts the range of acceptable views that get aired. I’ve read that just 20 years ago, the major media outlets were owned by some 50 companies. Today, they’re owned by 5 conglomerates, with largely the same guiding concerns. It’s interesting to see how these corporations reinforce and fluff up the administration, when so many people genuinely believe the media are “liberal.” Actually, the media are liberal on social issues, but only on those narrow issues. On all other issues, including war & peace, the media are virtually tools of the state.
    People have high hopes for the internet & blogs to inform the public and get the truth out, but I’m having a hard time being optimistic. Reading takes time, and I fear that the vast majority get their “news” from 30 second blurbs on McDonald’s News Channels.

  3. Pat Lang says:

    One of their leading lights told me that the “Con” in Neocon is the “Conservative” part. pl

  4. RJJ says:

    Why do people pay money each month to these corporations?
    This question is a magical one. It is like, “Did you do your homework?” Reply: “Huh?”

  5. Pat Lang says:

    Or the one I used to ask cadets. “Why are you wearing your raincoat?”
    Answer: “What raincoat? pl

  6. sbj says:

    I too was surprised at the genuine “news reporting” in the immediate aftermath of the hurricane.
    I told several of my friends on the Tuesday after the storm that by the weekend the media would be back into “entertainment mode”, and also once again engaged in the “he said- he said” rhetorical mud wrestling that passes for debate in the talking head circuit.
    As long as “news” remains an entertainment commodity, tragedy and general salaciousness will always be sensationalized for maximum effect.
    It’a sad commentary on our society that so many viewers have such a disgusting appetite for other peoples misfortune, and that the media giants exploit this shabby appetite so shamelessly.
    And as for the self-serving interest of these media corporations in the political arena, is anyone really surprised by the betrayal of the public interest in the name of personal and corporate aggrandizement?

  7. tim fong says:

    I used to read articles like the one you link and dismiss them as the rantings of the hate-America crowd. But as I’ve gotten older and gotten out of the US more, I’ve come to agree that the news media simply is always going to defend the interests of its owners. It was hard to swallow this, I think, because I found Chomsky and his ilk so distasteful, stylistically at least.
    But really, it makes sense when we look at it. We’ve built a system that creates incentives for the news media to behave in the way it does. As long as the incentives don’t change, I think it’ll stay the same…
    I used to think the Internet was going to find a way to route around this, but nowadays I’m not so sure. Then again, we’re having this discussion so I guess that’s a start.

  8. Tuli says:

    Dear Patrick:
    The media’s move from private to merger mania, re: corpratist, has had a devastating effect on the dissemination of information in this country.
    Thanks for posting this article, not that most of us didn’t know what it expressed. But, it is good to see it in print.
    And, thanks for this blog. It brings sanity to the discussion
    I, for one, am eternally grateful.
    As the wheels come off, I look for a rational voice and you are one.
    Always, Tuli

  9. BadTux says:

    One thing to remember: This is not a case of some vast conspiracy, but, rather, of emergent behavior (go look it up in the Wikipedia). That is, this result could be predicted by looking at the fundamental underlying rules of the American republic, even though it is nowhere written in those rules that the news media shall be a sycophantic mouth of men of power. But everything is set up to encourage the news media to be exactly that, from the tight government control held over the airwaves to insure that only large media giants can afford to own radio and television stations, to the massive amounts of money needed to get elected to national office, which in turn leads to natural corruption where the tight government control is used to grant those airwaves to cronies and lackies.
    I don’t know what the solution is, other than democracy (which is not what we have in America — you cannot call it democracy when an unelected elite only allows candidates acceptable to them to run for office, candidates not beholden to that unelected elite simply cannot raise the amounts of money needed to win elections). Unfortunately, because the media calls this system “democracy”, most people know something’s wrong, but really can’t pinpoint it — they simply lack the fundamental linguistic underpinnings to name what they are seeing or understand that it is not the “good” thing, “democracy”, that they’ve been told about all their lives.
    Again, this is *not* a conspiracy theory, because I don’t believe there is any concious conspiracy involved. Men of wealth naturally want things that will benefit men of wealth. That’s one of the fundamental rules of human behavior. Running elections on a national scale in a nation as large as the United States will always require huge sums of money. That’s one of the fundamental laws of economics. Men of wealth will always, then, finance only those candidates acceptable to them, and ignore the other candidates, regardless of how well the other candidates represent the actual views of the people as a whole. Short of government funding of elections (with private funding prohibited as toxic to democracy), this will always be the case, thus giving us the best government that money can buy — rather than a government of the people, by the people, for the people. And all without any concious conspiracy at all… pure emergent behavior, that’s all, completely unforeseen by the founding fathers, who lived in a much smaller nation (with a total population smaller than a mid-sized city today). But rules that worked for a nation of 1.5 million people simply aren’t working for a nation of 300 million people…

  10. RJJ says:

    We are powerless.

  11. Mr.Murder says:

    Neoconfederates is the correct term. We’re all just workin’ for the man these days…

  12. RJJ says:

    so, who has been so outraged by the poor quality and/or the subversive role of the media that they have cancelled their cable/satellite?
    because until that’s done, the high dudgeon and lofty analysis is, in the language of the ancestors, “horsscitte”

  13. Mr.Murder says:

    Yes JT, more good people worked with the police to try and restore, help and protect their community of persons survive than worked against it or any authorities.
    It bears repeating. Thanks.

  14. BadTux says:

    I came across a story about four New Orleans cops who were assigned to police the Convention Center. Four cops. Maybe 10,000 people there. You do the math. There was no way — *no* way — that they were going to stop this crowd from doing anything they wanted to do.
    One thing this cop noted was that when the crowds decided to plunder the stores, they brought back all the food and water, and they handed it out all around — they did’t hoard it like Republicans. They even gave food and water to the cops, who were as homeless, hungry, and thirsty as the rest of the crowd.
    Of course, this cop also noted that they had a couple of knuckleheads that were firing weapons in the cops’ direction from behind the crowd, apparently trying to get the cops to fire into the crowd. Sort of like Iraqi insurgents. Unlike U.S. troops in Iraq, the cops did not, of course, fire into the crowd. The cops were Americans, and the crowd was Americans. One time they had a guy with a shotgun drive up in an SUV and start shooting at them. All four cops rushed the SUV, the guy’s shotgun jammed, and they got him out and beat the crap out of him. The crowd cheered.
    And really, that’s the way it is anywhere. Unless things are really bad, most people are decent folks who merely want to be left alone to live their lives in peace. Oh, sure, you have your thugs with shotguns or thugs with law books out there trying to rape and steal via force or law, but they are the minority. Unless the forces of good respond with inordinate force (by, say, firing into a crowd because one goon at the back of the crowd fired a shot at them), the majority of people are decent folks who are going to support the forces of good, because that’s what lets them live in peace.
    Sometimes we forget that, when we see all the evil people who are out there in the world, some of whom carry guns, some of whom carry law books. Maybe we shouldn’t.
    – Badtux the Louisiana Penguin

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