Will there be war? Will there not be war? What is happening in Syria? What about the Iranian nuclear program and US-Israeli threats to attack? What about the Palestinians and what’s happening with Iraq?
What about the struggle between the 1% and the 99% in the US? What are the measures being taken in the name of austerity in North America and Europe? How about the crisis in the Eurozone? “Half a Truth is often a great LIE.”
— Benjamin Franklin
“It may be true that you can’t fool ALL the people ALL the time,
but you can fool enough of them to rule a large country.”
— Will Durant, The Story of Civilization
“No President should fear public scrutiny of his program. For from that scrutiny comes understanding; and from that understanding comes support or opposition. And both are necessary. I am not asking your newspapers to support the Administration, but I am asking your help in the tremendous task of informing and alerting the American people. For I have complete confidence in the response and dedication of our citizens whenever they are fully informed.” — JFK
Conventional wisdom among political discourse suggests mainstream media operates on a left wing agenda or at least a liberal slant. Fox News claims to be above this global left wing agenda by declaring itself the world’s only fair and balanced network. Hosts and guests on the show continuously bash the New York Times and other media networks such as CNN for their clear bias. More recently PBS was thrown under the bus by not just Fox News, but anchors of CNN who chastised PBS for being a clear threat to truth in the country.
While Fox News has largely been analyzed and scrutinized, and rightfully so, it takes multiple dancers to shift the paradigm of American politics further and further right wing. Publications including the New York Times and other news stations such as ABC, CBS, NBC, and unfortunately at times PBS, all play their respective roles in the continued corporatization of our government at the behest of democracy.
What the major news networks in both evening and morning slots achieve is the accreditation of the extreme. Outrageous freedom killing policies become commonplace through a facade of nonpartisanship. To these television shows and publications, nonpartisanship is code word for corporately approved. Facts on the political parties being in the pockets of corporations need not be debated in this piece but what is little known is the purchasing and consolidation of media by these same corporations in our country. Once a policy is approved by both sides of the political isle debate seizes across the board and as a result the country’s political landscape shifts.
By not challenging authority the media has allowed the country to enter a world where true grassroots hard-nosed muckraking reporting is seen as extreme and inappropriate. Due to the consolidation of the media market journalists realize that there are simply limited opportunities to work in this country as a journalist, to speak out is to risk a career. Additionally due to the hyper-corporatization of the media, news networks now employ lobbyists but fail to include the guest’s true allegiance prior to their input. Instead they will include only the interviewees name and some broad category such as military expert. Simply put, it is a lie through silence. Other anchors who have the opportunity to interview politicians fail to ask any real questions or risk losing access to future political interviewing possibilities. Network executives also routinely define the parameters of an interview before it takes place.
Anchor Dan Rather of CBS evening news summed it up best:
“There was a time in South Africa that people would put flaming tires around people’s necks if they dissented, and in some ways the fear is that you will be necklaced here, you will have a flaming tire of lack of patriotism put around your neck. Now it is that fear that keeps journalists from asking the toughest of the tough questions, and to continue to bore in on the tough questions so often. And again, I am humbled to say, I do not except myself from this criticism.”
Now of course this is the same man who famously stated, “George bush is the president…wherever he wants me to line up, just tell me where and he’ll make the call.” The political narrative in this country is controlled by the president and the media. When the media fails to report on differing views or fails to challenge authority for fear of their corporate boss’s backlash, we all suffer. A classic example is Iraq.
A study conducted by Steve Rendall and Tara Broughel in May 2003 looked into the silencing of dissent by the media during the three weeks leading up to the Iraq War. Media outlets included in this study were: ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, FOX, and PBS. The results were staggering. Sources that were prowar made up 64% of those interviewed, while antiwar advocates came in at a lowly 10%. U.S. sources who were prowar tallied in at 71%, once again the antiwar guests stood at a lousy 3%. This clearly shows an utter lack of any viewpoints being offered aside the prowar corporate position. Expectantly these results produced the ignorance of Americans who believed Saddam himself had orchestrated 9/11.
If we had actually learned something from this catastrophe at least the deaths of potentially a million innocent Iraqi civilians would have served as some type of historical lesson. This unfortunately is not the case. Today the media continues to lead the charge in silencing dissent and rubber stamping Washington rhetoric as factual in all policy arenas. Between 2009 and 2011 according to media matters, media coverage of climate change by ABC, CBS, NBC, and FOX fell 90%, while the nightly news coverage dropped 72%. In total the Sunday news nonpartisan analysis consisted of a whopping 9 minutes in 2011. CBS’s Face the Nation brought up the rear in ignorance covering climate change for a total of just 4 minutes in 3 years. In the evening CBS once again maintained their crown of purposeful silence with their Evening News program covering climate change a total of 40 minutes in 3 years.
What is equally pathetic is what these networks chose to cover. Topics such as Donald Trump’s attention whoring run for office received more coverage then climate change on every network except ABC World News, which gave equal time to the two topics. To press for straws one could at least argue that in those brief moments of intellectual honesty the country was able to learn a great deal about what type of horrible climate change is taking place on our planet, ironically from corporations that own the network, right? Wrong again. Exactly 0% of Sunday news shows interviewed scientists during their climate change segments. 68% of the guests were Republicans, yes the Republicans who want to ban books and essentially using your brain if they could. The Democrats on the show were of course either the most right wing themselves or the most pitifully prepared Harlem Globe Trotter paid losers who routinely got annihilated in debates.
It seems that all the mainstream corporate media has learned since the Iraq war is how to potentially kill billions of us on the planet instead of just a million Iraqis. This presents quite a quagmire for Americans in this country. The 4th estate is supposed to protect us from the deterioration of our democracy, therefore in order to educate ourselves we must logically watch the news. Unfortunately as the numbers indicate the news ‘nonpartisanship news’ actively silences the majority of Americans, and the majority of facts. Americans in their mind are left with ignorance by watching TV or ignorance by not following anything, which is if Americans become aware of the fact they are being used, which sadly is not the case.
According to the Pew Research Center, “For all the losses, however, the network evening news remains an extraordinarily popular news source for Americans. More than four times as many people watched the three network evening newscasts on ABC, CBS and NBC during the dinner hour than watched the highest-rated shows on the three cable news channels (CNN, Fox News and MSNBC) during prime time.”
Left with no options in the television media one would assume that a respected publication such as the New York Times unlike those propaganda laden institutions such as the Wall Street Journal would provide a broader analysis of ongoing news. Wrong again. Like their siblings in the television media industry, the New York Times plays its role as a pragmatic liberal perfectly. Once you get such a left leaning paper like the New York Times to agree then obviously the policy is just, and there is no need to worry. By silencing American opinions and riding in the pockets of authority the NYT has traded in fact finding for obedience. When facts are not presented that disprove both sides of the aisle, the country’s ignorance increases and the likelihood of our rights being stripped increases. Ignorance leads to apathy and inactivity. With no one left to challenge the crony capitalist politicians they are able to progress our country to a 1%’s dream scenario.
Take for instance the reporting of our Goldman Sach’s approved candidates running for presidential office. A new study by Pew revealed that Romney received 39% positive coverage compared to Obama’s 18% so far this year. At no point during this year did he receive more positive coverage then negative. Now this is not a defense of Obama, he is a terrible president who is to the right of Bush but this is to illustrate how Trojan horses of the left are trotted out to lose in order to consolidate power and wealth to the 1%. If the NYT is favoring Romney more than Obama that must clearly illustrate even the most left wing policy advocates cannot excuse Obama’s action, therefore we need to move more towards extreme Republican ideals and abandon these failed socialist policies!
This is a game of good cop bad cop against the American people that can only be combated with independent media. Local news is essentially worthless nowadays and the radio waves are as consolidated as the television and news print. Occupy forming its own local media that has honest and intellectual debates over policies is the only solution. Information is the currency of democracy. Without it we will bankrupt our morality, our wallets, and any hope for a better future for ourselves and our children.