02/07/2011 12:44 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

The Culture of Extortion

The fact that Obama sat down with one of the least credible media personalities in the history of the presidential interview is the very picture of appeasement.

In fact, the Fox News shakedown of American media culture is both as simply executed and deeply traumatizing as any random street mugging, except on a national scale and with much more premeditation. The wholesale co-opting of social ideals and journalistic precepts to spread a gospel of fear is Fox's stock and trade, the very key to its profitability; casting caricatured archetypes in authoritative "news anchor" roles to spread its ingeniously framed disinformation is so brazen it shocks convention into stunned inaction and defensive gibbering.

Rupert Murdoch and Roger Ailes have done what every entrepreneur with an eye for exploitation has been doing for millennia, only with far greater rewards -- and greater consequences -- than any of their predecessors. I'm not sure any purposely sown divisions of the public fomented by antagonistic ad campaigns for Coke and Pepsi have yielded such enormous acrimony along with the profit. But division and acrimony are the perfect conditions for an organization like Fox News to thrive.

And the cultural extortion embodied by the media is by no means limited to pseudo-news outlets or continuously spewed brain-basting right wing talk-radio blather: The corporate shills and ditto-head apparatchiks have seeped their way into the political and judicial system where their intentions to bend history and law to their own ends is on clear display. From the absurd ravings of fringe personalities who now find themselves bloviating from the House floor to the ideologically-challenged judges who answer not to the U.S. Constitution but to a radical religious calling, the very institutions created to waylay such attacks upon sense and sensibility are under constant and brutal assault.

And as evidenced by the apparent need to placate the bullies who, so emboldened by their disquieting popularity, have extended their criminal reach beyond all sense of decency (a term which itself is currently being mangled at the hands of framers of right-wing doctrine), a democratically empowered president with a mandate to change the status quo is brought to heel in the sad reality that has become our democracy.

Bullies win. Pay up.