Monday, December 31, 2007

Hard Rain Journal: The Greatest Threat -- Not Al Qaeda or Even Greenhouse Gases ...

George Orwell, author of 1984 and Animal Farm, was also a BBC journalist

There is a reason that journalism is the sole profession explicitly protected in the U.S. Constitution. As a check and balance on government, it is essential to the functioning of a democratic society. As Thomas Jefferson famously stated, "Were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers, or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter." ... Amy Goodman, The FCC's Christmas Gift to Big Media, Truthdig, 12-24-07

Hard Rain Journal: The Greatest Threat -- Not Al Qaeda or Even Greenhouse Gases ...

By Richard Power

The greatest threat to the future of the USA does not come from terrorists, or global warming, or electronic voting machines, or globalization, or the national debt, or nuclear proliferation, or the health care crisis, or the collapse of vital infrastructure.

The greatest threat to the future of the USA comes from our own mainstream news media.

No, I am not indulging in hyperbole.

The US mainstream news media, monopolized as it is by corporate interests, has failed to live up to its Constitutional obligations. It has been craven and complicit in the purveying of denial and disinformation about global warming and flat-out lies about the war IN, OF, BY and FOR terror.

Indeed, in some ways, we do not have a news media controlled by government, we have a government controlled by the news media.

I call it the greatest threat because over the past few decades, lacking a mass news media that delivers nutrient-rich content, our citizenry has become informationally malnourished; and consequently, our citizenry has lost the sharpness of mind and the strength of will to overcome all the other threats mentioned (any one which could bring this nation to its knees).

If the US mainstream news media had lived up to its obligation to pursue the truth and deliver it, with continuity and astute aggregation, then Bush, Cheney, Rice, Rumsfeld, Rove, Gonzalez, Libby would be struggling to defend themselves in court instead of negotiating book deals or building libraries.

Here are excerpts from three important stories, with links to the full texts:

On Dec. 18, the five commissioners of the Federal Communications Commission met in Washington, D.C., and, by a 3 to 2 vote, passed new regulations that would allow more media consolidation. This, despite the U.S. public’s increasing concern over the nation’s media being controlled by a few giant corporations. ...
It was Bush-appointed FCC Chairman Kevin Martin, now just 41 years old, who rammed through the rule changes. He has served President Bush well. As deputy general counsel for the Bush-Cheney campaign in 2000, he was active during the Florida recount. Before that he worked for Kenneth Starr at the Office of Independent Counsel during the Monica Lewinsky scandal. Rumor has it that he may run for governor of his native North Carolina. His wife, Cathie Martin, was a spokeswoman for Vice President Dick Cheney in the midst of the scandal around the outing of CIA operative Valerie Plame. She now works on Bush’s communications staff. ...
Amy Goodman, The FCC's Christmas Gift to Big Media, Truthdig, 12-24-07

Conservative media mogul Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. announced of late the sale of 8 of its US television stations to a private equity firm -- Oak Hill Partners -- for an estimated $1.1 billion dollars that is expected to close sometime in 2008. ...
Oak Hill Partners lead investor Robert M. Bass, a longtime associate of George W. Bush, is also the founder of Ft. Worth, Texas-based Bass Brothers Enterprises. ...
Robert Bass, along with his brothers Lee, Ed, and Sid, from a wealthy Texas oil family, all attended Yale University where Ed was a classmate and friend of George W. Bush. ... Robert Bass is also the founder and chairman of Aerion Corporation, which has been the recipient of several very lucrative DARPA contracts for the development of supersonic laminar flow wing studies, along with research and test flights.
Diane Sweet, Bush associates still consolidating their hold on US media, Raw Story, 12-26-07

The League of Conservation Voters (LCV) today launched a campaign publicizing the fact that the top five TV political journalists have dodged the issue of global warming this year:
[I]n the more than 120 interviews and debates with the [presidential] candidates in 2007, the five political show hosts collectively have asked 2,275 questions. Of those questions, these journalists have only uttered the words “global warming” or “climate change” three times. More over, only 24 of these questions touched even remotely on the issue of global climate change. ...
– NBC’s Tim Russert: 664 questions, 0 mentioned global warming
– CNN’s Wolf Blitzer: 311 questions, 1 mentioned global warming
– ABC’s George Stephanopoulos: 661 questions, 0 mentioned global warming
– CBS’s Bob Scheiffer: 212 questions, 0 mentioned global warming
– Fox’s Chris Wallace: 427 questions, 2 mentioned global warming
Think Progress, 12-19-07

I urge you to take these two meaningful actions --

1. Contact your Senators and your Representatives, and demand that they trump Martin's brazen efforts on behalf of further media consolidation.

2. Go to LCV’s web site and sign their petition calling on political talk show hosts to 1) publicly acknowledge that global warming is an urgent threat, and 2) make the issue a priority in their interviews with all candidates. To sign, click here.

For Words of Power's archive of posts on Corporate News Media Complicity, Power of Alternative Media, Propaganda & Freedom, click here.

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