THE BLOG
05/09/2008 04:59 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

A Toxic Media Environment

While channel surfing this week I unfortunately caught a few minutes of the hateful and uninformed Glenn Beck on CNN Headline News. Why does this specimen have an hour each night to spew his toxic ideological waste? It was like watching one of those TV shows where animals attack people. Beck breathlessly smeared Barack Obama in the most infantile terms for about a five-minute segment and then tossed the next segment to his guest to help him pile on more McCarthyite venom. The guest: Ann Coulter.

During another odious Glenn Beck segment I happened to catch the host was telling his viewers how wonderful Big Oil conglomerates are and how we all should get behind drilling in the Alaska National Wildlife Reserve and off the coast of California. His guests this time were two right-wing crazies: Yaron Brook from some Social Darwinist outfit calling itself the "Ayn Rand Institute," and Jonah Goldberg, who has recently come out with possibly the worst book written since Gutenberg invented movable type. All three of these far-right charlatans agreed, as if it were common sense, that 1). America can drill its way out its current energy woes; and 2). The oil companies are on the side of the angels in this thing and their obscene profits are wonderful indicators of the miracle of American capitalism. Yaron Brook advocated drilling for oil everywhere, even in "your living room."

When you combine this kind of claptrap with Beck's constant tirades against anyone who thinks that human-caused global climate change actually might be a problem, one can only conclude that we are consciously being propagandized. This is not an "ordinary" opinion show. It is deliberate disinformation and it is disgraceful in a democracy.

The corporate media are currently in the process of willfully ignoring the Pentagon's elaborate psychological warfare program it ran AGAINST the American people to sell the invasion of Iraq. The "message force multipliers," which in Pentagonese means "propagandists," were largely retired military officers who had consulting and other contracts with corporations that stood to benefit handsomely from the Iraq war. In other words, the Pentagon under Donald Rumsfeld sent out a small army of former officers with astounding conflicts of interest to appear on the nation's major "news" shows to sway public opinion in favor of a war that has now cost us over $800 billion. It is illegal for the Defense Department, or any other government agency, to use Congressionally appropriated funds to propagandize the American people. Heads should roll. Professional journalists should be outraged about this program since it undermines the credibility of their profession. It was the biggest psy-op ever run domestically. But like the Downing Street Memo and other stories, the corporate media have greeted this shocking revelation with a collective yawn.

The Pentagon's domestic psy-op program was running full tilt when MSNBC canceled Phil Donahue's show because he was practicing real journalism. And today MSNBC and its parent NBC are blackballing Arianna Huffington from their news shows because in her new book, "Right is Wrong," she takes to task the mealy-mouthed "conventional wisdom" of one of the network's prima donna stars, Tim Russert.

So on NBC we can see Mayberry Machiavellians, market fundamentalists, neo-conservative warmongers, McCarthyite blowhards, and retired generals pretending to be "neutral" war commentators -- but we can't see Arianna Huffington?

There must be fundamental changes made to the make-up of the Federal Communications Commission and new legislation passed to begin to clean up this toxic media environment. We need to pursue aggressively anti-trust prosecutions against the media oligopolies to break them up into smaller, more competitive entities. We need to reinstate some form of the fairness doctrine. We need the companies to provide free airtime to presidential candidates to reduce the obscene amount of cash they milk from our "democracy" every four years. Maybe then, mercifully, we will see less of Glenn Beck and his ilk, less propaganda, and more credible journalism.