I quote Noam Chomsky & Bill Moyers. (Media issues)

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 (I couldn’t think of a title for this ‘essay’. But I like Noam Chomsky and I quote him 🙂

It is obvious our corporate controlled media often fails in its job of keeping the public informed and holding those with power accountable( i.e Iraq). All too often the media is willing to carry the water for the Power elite.

As Noam Chomsky said

We live in an era of media concentration, vast efforts on many fronts (political, economic, military, ideological) to insulate state and private power from critical discussion or even popular awareness, and to reduce citizens to isolated atomized creatures restricted to satisfying personal ‘created wants.’ This massive and coordinated campaign has been partially successful, but only in a limited way.

 Media reform advocate Professor Robert McChesney makes a point similar to Noam Chomsky.

Policy debates focus on marginal and tangential issues because core structures and policies are off-limits to criticism. In this environment, policy debates tend to gravitate to the elite level and public participation virtually disappears. After all, for most people, minor media policy issues are far down the list of important topics. Sweeping media reform is unthinkable – and politically impossible. The public’s elimination from the process is encouraged by the corruption of the U.S. political system, in which politicians tend to be comfortable with the status quo and not inclined to upset powerful commercial media owners and potential campaign contributors. The dominant media firms enjoy the power to control news coverage of debates over media policies; this is a power they have used shamelessly to trivialize, marginalize, and distort opposition to the status quo.

 For the traditonal media it is ok to have us drown in the excessive commentary about Obama’s bitter comments or (insert trivial news story here). Just give us another trivial non-issue made into something that dominants our attention, while important stories fly underneath the radar and discussion is kept at a mim.

(Outside of a few websites) I have heard such little commentary on the documented war crimes of Bush, or the violation of his oath of office (breaking the 4th amendment). But it is to be expected. The media must help maintain the necessary illusions the power elite needs to thrive. The power elite needs to the media to help keep its rigged system going, without serious discussion of the crimes and failings of our leaders in government, the military, and in business.

Our media can only feed us large amounts of processed junk food not organic fruits & veggies. They don’t want a healthy informed public looking critically at power structures of this country.

The debates that dominate the news are narrow, and it became more narrow back in the 90’s when our corporate two party system failed the people. That is when Bill Clinton and the Republican controlled congress passed the Telecommunications Act of 1996 .

Bill Moyers had this to say about the legislation

Both parties bowed to their will when the Republican Congress passed and President Clinton signed the Telecommunications Act of 1996. That monstrous assault on democracy, with malignant consequences for journalism, was nothing but a welfare giveaway to the largest, richest, and most powerful media conglomerations in the world. Goliaths, whose handful of owners controlled, commodified, and monetized everyone and everything in sight. Call it “the plantation mentality.”

Common Cause documented the bill and its adverse consequences for democracy.

It

Lifted the limit on how many radio stations one company could own. The cap had been set at 40 stations. It made possible the creation of radio giants like Clear Channel, with more than 1,200 stations, and led to a substantial drop in the number of minority station owners, homogenization of play lists, and less local news.

Lifted from 12 the number of local TV stations any one corporation could own, and expanded the limit on audience reach. One company had been allowed to own stations that reached up to a quarter of U.S. TV households. The Act raised that national cap to 35 percent. These changes spurred huge media mergers and greatly increased media concentration. Together, just five companies – Viacom, the parent of CBS, Disney, owner of ABC, News Corp, NBC and AOL, owner of Time Warner, now control 75 percent of all prime-time viewing.

The Act deregulated cable rates. Between 1996 and 2003, those rates have skyrocketed, increasing by nearly 50 percent.

The Act permitted the FCC to ease cable-broadcast cross-ownership rules. As cable systems increased the number of channels, the broadcast networks aggressively expanded their ownership of cable networks with the largest audiences. Ninety percent of the top 50 cable stations are owned by the same parent companies that own the broadcast networks, challenging the notion that cable is any real source of competition.

The Act gave broadcasters, for free, valuable digital TV licenses that could have brought in up to $70 billion to the federal treasury if they had been auctioned off. Broadcasters, who claimed they deserved these free licenses because they serve the public, have largely ignored their public interest obligations, failing to provide substantive local news and public affairs reporting and coverage of congressional, local and state elections.

The Act reduced broadcasters’ accountability to the public by extending the term of a broadcast license from five to eight years, and made it more difficult for citizens to challenge those license renewals.

Of course things have gotten worse since 1996 with Bush as President. Bush’s war on the press has  pushed for greater media monopoly.

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 dramatic new conglomeratization and monopoly control of information. The Administration’s desired rules changes would strike a mortal blow to local journalism, as media “company towns” would be the order of the day. This cozy relationship between media owners and the White House (remember Viacom chair Sumner Redstone’s 2004 declaration that re-electing Bush would be “good for Viacom”?) puts additional pressure on journalists who know that when they displease the Administration they also displease their bosses.

Professor McChesney in response to the media consolidation helped organize the National Conference for Media Reform. “The National Conference for Media Reform is an event for anyone who is concerned about the state of our media and committed to working for change.”

The National Conference for Media Reform will hold its 2008 meeting in June at Minneapolis.

Join In These Times, Bill Moyers, Dan Rather, Arianna Huffington, Amy Goodman, Naomi Klein, Juan Gonzalez, Van Jones, Lawrence Lessig, Sen. Byron Dorgan, FCC Commissioners Michael Copps and Jonathan Adelstein, thousands of media reform advocates, independent media, reporters, bloggers, and organizers at the National Conference For Media Reform, sponsored by Free Press, June 6-8, 2008, in Minneapolis, MN.

Over three days, the conference will feature 60 fascinating panel discussions and workshops plus inspiring speeches, multimedia presentations, film screenings, roundtable meetings with policymakers, regional caucuses for you to meet media reformers from your home state, and dozens of receptions and parties. We will focus on broadening the media reform movement, envisioning the future of our media system, harnessing new technology for change, and achieving concrete policy victories through sustainable organizing. http://www.inthesetimes.com/ev…

Bill Moyers who spoke at the 2007 conference in Memphis gave a great speech.

I will confess to you that I was skeptical when Bob McChesney and John Nichols first raised with me the issue of media consolidation a few years ago. I was sympathetic but skeptical. The challenge of actually doing something about this issue beyond simply bemoaning its impact on democracy was daunting. How could we hope to come up with an effective response to any measurable force? It seemed inexorable, because all over the previous decades, a series of mega-media mergers have swept the country, each deal bigger than the last. The lobby representing the broadcast, cable, and newspapers industries was extremely powerful, with an iron grip on lawmakers and regulators alike…

Big Media is Ravenous. It Never Gets Enough. Always Wants More. And it Will Stop at Nothing to Get It. These Conglomerates are an Empire, and they are Imperial.”

And today, two basic pillars of American society, shared economic prosperity and a public sector capable of serving the common good, are crumbling. The third pillar of American democracy, an independent press, is under sustained attack, and the channels of information are choked. A few huge corporations now dominate the media landscape in America. Almost all the networks carried by most cable systems are owned by one of the major media common conglomerates. Two-thirds of today’s newspapers are monopolies.

“the question of whether or not our economic system is truly just is off the table for investigation and discussion, so that alternative ideas, alternative critiques, alternative visions never get a hearing. And these are but a few of the realities that are obscured. What about this growing inequality? What about the re-segregation of our public schools? What about the devastating onward march of environmental deregulation? All of these are examples of what happens when independent sources of knowledge and analysis are so few and far between on the plantation.”

The Orwellian filigree of a public sphere in which language conceals reality, and the pursuit of personal gain and partisan power, is wrapped in rhetoric that turns truth to lies and lies to truth. So it is that limited government has little to do with the Constitution or local economy anymore. Now it means corporate domination and the shifting of risk from government and business to struggling families and workers. Family values now mean imposing a sectarian definition of the family on everyone else. Religious freedom now means majoritarianism and public benefits for organized religion without any public burdens. And patriotism has come to mean blind support for failed leaders.

So if we need to know what is happening, and Big Media won’t tell us; if we need to know why it matters, and Big Media won’t tell us; if we need to know what to do about it, and Big Media won’t tell us, it’s clear what we have to do. We have to tell the story ourselves.

 Bill Moyers is an American hero and an inspiration…. (I also loved his interviews with Joseph Campbell.)

During these Bush years and abject failures of the corporate media my hope and solace has been the internet. We’ll see if the intenet can continue to be a silver lining in our current dystopian media landscape.

The range and scope and dedication of popular activism has also increased, all over the world, reaching a level of international solidarity and mutual support that has never been seen before. The basic conflicts are very old, but they have taken quite dramatic and significant new forms, and the stakes are far higher than ever before. It is, regrettably, no exaggeration to say that the survival of the species is at risk — and many others with it. We all know why

Chomsky

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    • pfiore8 on April 17, 2008 at 10:42 pm

    and, as Molly Ivins requested, sent him a letter begging him to run for president……..

    great essay.

    we can e-mail essays from blogs to our non-blogging friends and get them together for political cocktail parties. we can raise the importance of what is happening.

    we were working on a hard bill, or newsletter, but we stalled out because those of us involved were all in states of flux (two of us moving and the other busy at work and has since disappeared…)

    but i think the idea of handing out a pamphlet, like the old days, is a great idea. we will get back to it…  

  1. I got back a polite, humble note in which he expressed his thanks but declined.

    An excerpt from his speech at West Point given in November 2006:

    Rupert Murdoch comes to mind-only because he was in the news last week talking about Iraq. In the months leading up to the invasion Murdoch turned the dogs of war loose in the corridors of his media empire, and they howled for blood, although not their own. Murdoch himself said, just weeks before the invasion, that: “The greatest thing to come of this to the world economy, if you could put it that way [as you can, if you are a media mogul], would be $20 a barrel for oil.” Once the war is behind us, Rupert Murdoch said: “The whole world will benefit from cheaper oil which will be a bigger stimulus than anything else.”

    Today Murdoch says he has no regrets, that he still believes it was right “to go in there,” and that “from a historical perspective” the U.S. death toll in Iraq was “minute.”

    “Minute.”

    The word richoted in my head when I heard it. I had just been reading about Emily Perez. Your Emily Perez: Second Lieutenant Perez, the first woman of color to become a command sergeant major in the history of the Academy, and the first woman graduate to die in Iraq. I had been in Washington when word of her death made the news, and because she had lived there before coming to West Point, the Washington press told us a lot about her. People remembered her as “a little superwoman”-straight A’s, choir member, charismatic, optimistic, a friend to so many; she had joined the medical service because she wanted to help people. The obituary in the Washington Post said she had been a ball of fire at the Peace Baptist Church, where she helped start an HIV-AIDS ministry after some of her own family members contracted the virus. Now accounts of her funeral here at West Point were reporting that some of you wept as you contemplated the loss of so vibrant an officer.

    “Minute?” I don’t think so. Historical perspective or no. So when I arrived today I asked the Academy’s historian, Steve Grove, to take me where Emily Perez is buried, in Section 36 of your cemetery, below Storm King Mountain, overlooking the Hudson River. Standing there, on sacred American soil hallowed all the more by the likes of Lieutenant Perez so recently returned, I thought that to describe their loss as “minute”-even from a historical perspective-is to underscore the great divide that has opened in America between those who advocate war while avoiding it and those who have the courage to fight it without ever knowing what it’s all about.

    We were warned of this by our founders. They had put themselves in jeopardy by signing the Declaration of Independence; if they had lost, that parchment could have been their death warrant, for they were traitors to the Crown and likely to be hanged. In the fight for freedom they had put themselves on the line-not just their fortunes and sacred honor but their very persons, their lives. After the war, forming a government and understanding both the nature of war and human nature, they determined to make it hard to go to war except to defend freedom; war for reasons save preserving the lives and liberty of your citizens should be made difficult to achieve, they argued. Here is John Jay’s passage in Federalist No. 4:

    It is too true, however disgraceful it may be to human nature, that nations in general will make war whenever they have a prospect of getting anything by it; nay, absolute monarchs will often make war when their nations are to get nothing by it, but for the purposes and objects merely personal, such as thirst for military glory, revenge for personal affronts, ambition, or private compacts to aggrandize or support their particular families or partisans. These and a variety of other motives, which affect only the mind of the sovereign, often lead him to engage in wars not sanctified by justice or the voice and interests of his people.

    And here, a few years later, is James Madison, perhaps the most deliberative mind of that generation in assaying the dangers of an unfettered executive prone to war:

    In war, a physical force is to be created, and it is the executive will which is to direct it. In war, the public treasures are to be unlocked, and it is the executive hand which is to dispense them. In war, the honors and emoluments of office are to be multiplied; and it is the executive patronage under which they are to be enjoyed. It is in war, finally, that laurels are to be gathered; and it is the executive brow they are to encircle. The strongest passions and most dangerous weaknesses of the human breast; ambition, avarice, vanity, the honorable or venial love of fame, are all in conspiracy against the desire and duty of peace.

    I want to be clear on this: Vietnam did not make me a dove. Nor has Iraq; I am no pacifist. But they have made me study the Constitution more rigorously, both as journalist and citizen. Again, James Madison:

    In no part of the Constitution is more wisdom to be found, than in the clause which confides the question of war and peace to the legislature, and not to the executive department. Beside the objection to such a mixture to heterogeneous powers, the trust and the temptation would be too great for any one man.

    Twice in 40 years we have now gone to war paying only lip service to those warnings; the first war we lost, the second is a bloody debacle, and both rank among the great blunders in our history. It is impossible for soldiers to sustain in the field what cannot be justified in the Constitution; asking them to do so puts America at war with itself. So when the Vice President of the United States says it doesn’t matter what the people think, he and the President intend to prosecute the war anyway, he is committing heresy against the fundamental tenets of the American political order.

    The Armed Services are no longer stepchildren in budgetary terms. Appropriations for defense and defense-related activities (like veterans’ care, pensions, and debt service) remind us that the costs of war continue long after the fighting ends. Objections to ever-swelling defensive expenditures are, except in rare cases, a greased slide to political suicide. It should be troublesome to you as professional soldiers that elevation to the pantheon of untouchable icons – right there alongside motherhood, apple pie and the flag – permits a great deal of political lip service to replace genuine efforts to improve the lives and working conditions – in combat and out – of those who serve.

    Let me cut closer to the bone. The chickenhawks in Washington, who at this very moment are busily defending you against supposed “insults” or betrayals by the opponents of the war in Iraq, are likewise those who have cut budgets for medical and psychiatric care; who have been so skimpy and late with pay and with provision of necessities that military families in the United States have had to apply for food stamps; who sent the men and women whom you may soon be commanding into Iraq understrength, underequipped, and unprepared for dealing with a kind of war fought in streets and homes full of civilians against enemies undistinguishable from non-combatants; who have time and again broken promises to the civilian National Guardsmen bearing much of the burden by canceling their redeployment orders and extending their tours.

    You may or may not agree on the justice and necessity of the war itself, but I hope that you will agree that flattery and adulation are no substitute for genuine support. Much of the money that could be directed to that support has gone into high-tech weapons systems that were supposed to produce a new, mobile, compact “professional” army that could easily defeat the armies of any other two nations combined, but is useless in a war against nationalist or religious guerrilla uprisings that, like it or not, have some support, coerced or otherwise, among the local population. We learned this lesson in Vietnam, only to see it forgotten or ignored by the time this administration invaded Iraq, creating the conditions for a savage sectarian and civil war with our soldiers trapped in the middle, unable to discern civilian from combatant, where it is impossible to kill your enemy faster than rage makes new ones.

    And who has been the real beneficiary of creating this high-tech army called to fight a war conceived and commissioned and cheered on by politicians and pundits not one of whom ever entered a combat zone? One of your boys answered that: Dwight Eisenhower, class of 1915, who told us that the real winners of the anything at any price philosophy would be “the military-industrial complex.”

    A great speech. Amazing that it was given at West Point. I would have voted for him.

    As for Chomsky, he is the most important political analyst of the last 50 years, and we are lucky to have him on our side.

    • RiaD on April 18, 2008 at 12:07 am

    i don’t think your eyes are absurd. at. all.

    i think they see pretty durn clearly!

    Wecome to you!

    thank you for this most excellent essay!

    i look forward to more, more, more from you!

    be sure to visit the pony party’s for a bit of community hilarity…and check out the ‘Series‘ button for the ongoing features…

    ver glad YOU are here!

    (^.^)

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