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Same Old, Same Old ABC


Let's not forget that this is the same ABC that welcomes Cindy McCain to The View, the same ABC which refused to permit more than thirty seconds of the debate coverage to be re-broadcast by others, thereby hoarding coverage that should be considered -- and in the past was considered -- as a public service -- due to their use of public airwaves. The mishandled, petty, and shameful moderation of the debate results from a news media monopoly which has sacrificed in depth coverage, investigation, fairness, and all attempts to probe significant topics, and instead proffers what passes for entertainment, including cosmetic surgery, celebrity fixations, and an obsession with minor "bad" news hooks, over substance.

"Most Americans know more about Britney Spears than we do about global warming," Robert F. Kennedy told the thousand people gathered at last weekend's annual Being Fearless conference, hosted by the Omega Institute. Kennedy characterized our prurient interest in other peoples' sex lives, or the woes of manufactured celebs as "appeals to the reptilian brain."

Although most of us don't think much about it, every time we click on the boobs, the latest pseudo news hook fist fight, sex tip, or scandal, we are boobies, because we're signaling to the on-line editors that we prefer the quick thrill of seduction to being informed.

Kennedy himself, who has a well-documented, intelligent, and thoughtful critique of this government's environmental, science, and health public policy has been repeatedly censored by ABC and the very same media conglomerates that brought you last week's debate coverage. That's why you may have formed the impression that he's not to be trusted. It's because they don't want you to hear what he has to say. And it's not just ABC news.

Back in my parent's day, Kennedys in their prime were entrusted with the highest office, but today's Kennedy, a well-informed advocate is, maligned, ridiculed, censured, and excluded from mainstream coverage because he offers an accurate (though discomfiting) analysis of environmental rollbacks, public health care policy, and their attendant health impacts.

When Kennedy gave New York Times' editors an array of DNA, animal, epidemiological, and biological studies that document the link between mercury and neurological disorders, they were so "hostile and antagonistic it was like talking to a brick wall," Kennedy reported. In the past, the news media looked for investigative pieces. Today they look the other way, uncritically accepting government studies.

For those who still entertain the fantasy that medical science is "objective" or that the government regulations dutifully protect its citizens, Kennedy reminds us that "the US has privatized safety research and by extension, the regulation of toxins. Expecting objectivity under these conditions is naïve at best." Kennedy is one of the few to connect the dots as:

• Campaign contributors are given posts in oversight of the industries they represent, where they
• Rewrite governmental regulations to protect their industry rather than the public good, resulting in:
• Environmental pollution, misuse of resources, and health care polices harmful to childhood and adult health

The bottom line is that the corporate takeover and rollback of laws and regulations in the public interest occurs because we've lost our watchdog press. Deregulation allowed media conglomerates to monopolize and purvey coverage that supports their vested interests. We're one internet ruling away from an information theocracy.

Investigative journalism, foreign news bureaus, and fair reporting, all bedrocks of news coverage, began to disappear Kennedy reminds us, back in 1988, when Ronald Reagan abolished the Fairness Doctrine. As part of the right to use public airwaves, network television was formerly mandated to provide news coverage even at an economic loss.

But following Reagan's forgotten media coup d'etat broadcasters could keep their licenses while cutting back their news divisions, abdicating their responsibility to inform. Without that law, there was nothing to moderate their kowtowing to advertisers, investors, and a short-sighted bottom line.

"We're the most entertained, and least well informed country on earth." Kennedy says.

If you've ever wondered why your fellow Americans seem "stupid," in repeatedly and misguidedly voting for candidates that appeal to gut level instincts rather those who demonstrate subtle mastery of complex issues, Kennedy points out that, "Misinformation undermines democracy."

Misinformation and declining education produces a populace easily lead around by the short and curlies. This undermining of the bases for democratic decision-making is enacted via rewriters of regulations and legislation in the public interest. But if you're busy reading about Paris Hilton, Reverend Wright, or wrinkle fillers, you may not know about it.

For environmental activism, join Robert F. Kennedy Jr. at the Natural Resources Defense Council. If you want to join Deepak Chopra and other health leaders for caring/proactive health care and public policy--and a healthier world, please sign up for the Better Health Campaign at: www.health-journalist.com For media reform, go to www.freepress.net

Follow Alison Rose Levy on Twitter: www.twitter.com/Alirosewriter