In 2007, the Democratic Party's agenda will be smothered in the cradle without meaningful reform targeting the concentration of the corporate media. The Democrats must stop the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) from pursuing the course of accelerating the obscene consolidation of media corporations that has gone on unabated for thirty years. FCC Chairman Kevin Martin should be run out of town on a rail!
Because the media define, frame, and give visibility or meaning to the pressing problems of our time -- from global warming to voting irregularities, from government spying to corporate corruption -- reforming the media must be a top priority. Unless the Democrats move aggressively to reform the corporate media, break it up, and put an end to the "Media Industrial Complex," the crucial debates on the key issues will continue to be slanted, skewed, and distorted through a corporate lens that values the bottom line of Disney or News Corporation far more than what is in the country's best interest. Either we take that course or we just turn the whole system over to Rupert Murdoch.
Vice-President Dick Cheney said on videotape he expected a short war in Iraq because we "will be greeted as liberators," and President George W. Bush said repeatedly there were links between Saddam Hussein and Al Qaeda. Their televised remarks were as real as the videos of the planes slamming into the World Trade Center. Yet the corporate media offer no context other than commercials and the selling of audiences to advertisers. Cheney and Bush can claim their words were "taken out of context" because there is no context for them to be taken out of.
Eighty years ago, Walter Lippmann wrote: "There can be no liberty for a community which lacks the means by which to detect lies."
Twenty years ago, in Amusing Ourselves to Death, Neil Postman wrote: "We are presented not only with fragmented news but news without context, without consequences, without value, and therefore without essential seriousness; that is to say, news as pure entertainment." Fox News anchor Brit Hume pretends to be a journalist instead of a Republican mouthpiece; Dana Perino pretends to answer questions the members of the supine White House press corps pretend to ask her. President Bush pretends to know and care about what he is doing. Maybe David Gregory and Karl Rove can dance for us again.
"Disinformation does not mean false information," Postman continued. "It means misleading information -- misplaced, irrelevant, fragmented or superficial information -- information that creates the illusion of knowing something but which in fact leads one away from knowing." The Bush administration more so than any previous administration in U.S. history is dedicated to spreading this kind of disinformation.
We know more about Tom Cruise's baby, the runaway bride, or a pedophile who claimed to have killed JonBenet, than we do about the NSA wiretaps, the CIA's secret prisons, or Maher Arar. Frank Luntz's "focus groups" have given us the "death tax" and "personal accounts" for Social Security just like Archer Daniels Midlands is the "supermarket to the world" and GE "brings good things to life."
College students enter their freshmen classrooms having watched 16,000 hours of television and some 500,000 commercials. They've seen Disney movies and purchased the tie-in products at McDonald's and Burger King. Beginning in infancy they have had visual, audio, and even tactile bonds to corporate America. And David Horowitz, that boil on the ass of the body politic, claims that humanities professors are the ones doing the "indoctrinating?"
And now, even with Bush's approval ratings in the toilet the FCC's Kevin Martin and his gang of cronies and free market ideologues want to make our currently horrific media environment even worse by allowing more corporate consolidation. You've got to be fucking kidding me!
There are at least five steps that might begin the process of breaking up the corporate media's doctrinal system of control:
1). Enforce anti-trust laws to break up the media oligopolies;
2). Greatly expand the public broadcasting system, (especially news);
3). Publicly finance all political campaigns;
4). Implement a total ban on all political commercials on television;
5). Restore the FCC's fairness doctrine on the public airwaves.