December 21, 2007

 

The town cryer from hell

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Hear Ye, Hear Ye!

The Federal Communications Commission passed new media ownership rules by a three to two Bushco party-line vote this week. This opens the door for fewer and bigger media companies to decide what Americans see, hear and read in the news as the big fish can more easily swallow up local news outlets. The FCC did this despite a HUGE public outcry - in the required public comment period, 99 percent of the respondents opposed media consolidation! This is because they realize that fewer outlets in the media mean less honest oversight of the news, and more bias because of the pressure of large corporate interests and the emphasis on the bottom line over truth and accuracy.

Just a few examples pointed out by Norman Solomon of Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting:
* ABC, owned by Disney, doesn’t disclose in their relevant news reports about Disney’s stake in sweatshops.

* Fox News and the Wall Street Journal, owned by the same entity - Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp - don’t disclose that the ownership is entangled with the Chinese government to the detriment of human rights but to the advancement of the profit margin of the parent company.

* CNN has a huge multi-BILLION dollar stake in Internet deregulation, and the failure of the Congress to safeguard so far what is generally known as "Net Neutrality." So every time CNN does a news report on the Internet, on efforts to regulate or deregulate or create a two or three-tier system of the Internet, CNN News should disclose that Time Warner, the parent company, stands to gain or lose billions of dollars in those terms.

* Chevron is a funder of key news programming on PBS. They were an underwriter of "Washington Week" last year, and now the massive energy firm currently funnels big bucks to the most influential show on PBS, the nightly "NewsHour with Jim Lehrer."

* The corporate funders of the "NewsHour" now include not only Chevron but also AT&T and Pacific Life. There must be dozens of journalistic reports on the program every week - whether relevant to the business worlds of energy, communications or insurance - that warrant, and lack, real-time disclosures while the news accounts are on the air. Meanwhile, over at "Washington Week," the corporate cash now flows in from the huge military contractor Boeing and the National Mining Association.

* And that’s just "public broadcasting." On avowedly commercial networks, awash in corporate ownership interests and advertising revenues, a thorough policy of disclosure in the course of news coverage would require that most of the airtime be devoted to shedding light on the media outlet conflicts-of-interest of the reporting in progress.

And then there's Solomon's exchange with Glenn Beck, CNN's pinnacle of integrity, who had invited Solomon on his show to point the finger at NBC for its conflicting interests in news reporting that affects its parent company General Electric:
Solomon: A major advertiser for CNN is the largest military contractor in the United States, Lockheed Martin. So when you and others...

Beck: I got news for you, Norman. Norman...

Solomon: ...promote war, when you and others promote war on this network...

Beck: Norman...Norman...

Solomon: ...we have Lockheed Martin paying millions of dollars undisclosed. So I would quote you...

Beck: Norman...Norman...

Solomon: "Promoting but not disclosing is a bad way to go."

Beck: Norman, let me just tell you this. First of all, Lockheed Martin is not a corporate overlord of this program.

Solomon: It’s a major advertiser on CNN.

Beck: That’s fine. That’s fine. Advertisers are different. But let...

Solomon: Well, it is fine, but it should be disclosed.

Beck: Norman, let me just tell you something. If you think that it’s warmonger central downstairs at CNN, you’re out of your mind. But that’s a different story.

Solomon: Well, upstairs, when I watch Glenn Beck, in terms of attacking Iran, it certainly is. It’s lucrative for the oil companies, as well as for the major advertiser on CNN, Lockheed Martin.

So there you have it, the facts that show you’ve got to be careful about where you’re getting your news from (especially that gawldurn LIBERAL MEDIA!). As Solomon said in closing his column, "Wouldn’t it be nice if once in a while somebody came on and said, you know, I don’t really have an agenda except the truth? It’s my truth. If you don’t like it, you should go someplace else."

As Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-NY) said in an op-ed response to the FCC vote, "The airwaves are owned by the public, not the mega media corporations. The American people deserve information from many different, independent outlets, with diverse, fair coverage from all sides of an issue, and different points of view."

The last thing our democracy needs is fewer independent media voices. Congress has the power to reverse this rule change, and if you agree that they should, let your voice be heard. Following the vote, a bipartisan group of 26 senators sent a letter to FCC Chairman Kevin Martin, vowing to "immediately move legislation that will revoke and nullify the proposed rule." Please give these Senators a stronger voice by also signing this online petition.

For more on big media and net neutrality matters, checkout Freepress
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