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Timothy Karr Headshot

Why Big Media is Mum about Its Propaganda Habit

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Co-authored by Megan Tady

Big surprise - the American people are taking it upon themselves to stop pro-war propaganda in the news, and the corporate media aren't reporting on it.

When hundreds of thousands of Americans protest the Iraq war year after year, the corporate media portray peace activists as zealots on stilts.

When Americans across the country voice their outrage and concern about global warming, the corporate media feed us pundits who deny or misconstrue the facts about the environment.

Fox News pundits:
Still spinning for Bush
Now, tens of thousands of Americans have urged Congress to investigate the Pentagon's pervasive program to embed at least 75 "propaganda pundits" on every major news network. But the corporate media haven't batted an eye -- or said a word. (And even the Bush Administration is dodging the scandal, while insulting the only journalist in the White House gaggle with the guts to ask the question.)

In the same way that the corporate media refuse to report on the issues that affect and anger us the most, almost every news outlet has instituted a news blackout on this explosive story, opting to sweep under the rug a scandal that reaches deep into their own newsrooms.

Since the story broke in the New York Times, appeals to stop Pentagon propaganda have been flooding Congress. Senators John Kerry and Carl Levin have picked up the baton, and are calling for an investigation. Presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama have issued statements expressing their dismay about the Pentagon's program. And even the Pentagon, at least "temporarily," is backing off from siccing their coached "experts" on the American audience.

The Cozy Lapdog

The White House dodges the question
But there's a deeper illness here that can't be healed by promises from the Pentagon. U.S. journalism has been struck with a paralyzing case of consolidation, and the corporate hands that own our media don't want a cure. The Bush administration's propaganda wouldn't have spread far if it weren't for its cozy relationship with media outlets like Fox, ABC, NBC, CBS and CNN.

This failure of the watchdog not only undermines every standard of journalism, it also poses a fundamental threat to our democracy.

The effects of Big Media have never been more apparent. First and foremost, the corporate owners protect themselves with a phalanx of lobbyists, and then dole out favors to the politicians and regulators who allow Big Media to consolidate their power unbridled.

Our media should have properly challenged the Bush Administration's case for the Iraq war and countered the official version with dissenting views. Instead, we've gotten unapologetic propaganda from mainstream outlets that are too closely aligned DC power and politics to rock the boat.

The Netroots Go Where Fox Won't

It's obvious that the mainstream media won't help us keep this story alive. But the netroots and noncommercial media are going where Big Media won't, with extensive coverage of the scandal on independents ranging from The Nation, Salon.com, DemocracyNow and PBS to PRWatch, OpenLeft and DailyKos (and, yes, even Huffington Post). Combine that with the growing public outcry and we're close to a tipping point in Congress.

Media organizations and the Pentagon have a lot of explaining to do. The debate about America's military involvement in Iraq should be based on facts, and not on the spin of propaganda pundits and an enabling media.

It's time we knew the truth about the war. And it's time Big Media answered for its propaganda habit. Now Congress must act.