Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Big Media begats Don Imus, Katie Couric ... Iraq

I've kept out of the Imus insults, the most recent ones related to the kids at Rutgers rather than ..., yet I do like the above cartoon of Mike Lane obtained via Daryl Cagle's MSNBC syndicate. I've never cared for Imus so I've mostly ignored him. However, I'm finding myself thinking of how a minor Katie Couric plagiarism scandal relates to this issue. Katie’s Couric's Notebook, generally delivered in first person, was apparently written by somebody else, that somebody being canned for borrowing the substance of writing from Wall Street Journal columnist Jeffrey Zaslow. You'd think for their millions CBS would want her writing her own material yet that's not the subject of the post.

It's "Big Media" that's seemingly at issue here. Let's start with "Big Media Interlocks with Corporate America" by Peter Phillips from way back in 2005 on Common Dreams. Here's the money quote:
A research team at Sonoma State University has recently finished conducting a network analysis of the boards of directors of the ten big media organizations in the US. The team determined that only 118 people comprise the membership on the boards of director of the ten big media giants. This is a small enough group to fit in a moderate size university classroom. These 118 individuals in turn sit on the corporate boards of 288 national and international corporations. In fact, eight out of ten big media giants share common memberships on boards of directors with each other.
My take on Imus, Katie Couric ... Iraq is that the leadership making the decisions of Viacom, GE, Westwood One, MSNBC, CBS, Time, News Corp, etc. is following the profits. Capitalism requires this perhaps yet I'm increasingly nervous about the consequences. Additionally, my experience is that many people living the high life often lose touch with the world outside their elite surroundings. Truly if a person is living the American dream in the corporate world would they really upset the boat? Folks on down the food chain want to please those up at the top. That's reality in nearly every organization. The consequences for this occuring in mass media however go well beyond a grumpy big mouth like Don Imus saying outrageous things on our public airwaves or a cute and clever personality like Katie Couric getting a little sloppy with the script.

The Imus back-scratching seems certain. I found an old piece from 2002 titled "US Media Interests: Champions of Profit, Propaganda and Puffery" by John Stanton and Wayne Madsen that reads a little bumpy (pot calling the kettle black?) yet seems correct in many ways. Some quotes are:

A crisis without precedent is underway in the United States. And its consequences will be far graver than those wrought by the U.S. presidential election of 2000 and the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. The collapse of the Jeffersonian "free and uncensored press" in America endangers the liberties of all Americans and, arguably, citizens from all walks of life around the globe. As the U.S. prepares to invade Iraq and preemptively strike anywhere in the world it feels threatened, the only remaining barrier to monstrous U.S. totalitarianism is a sickly and crippled U.S. media, an aggressive foreign media, and the hope that the heretofore somnambulant American public will awaken from its stupor. ...

They editorialize on issues that please advertisers and the profit margin. ...

... U.S. print and broadcast organs from the New York Times to the Los Angeles Times, from NBC to Fox, and from AM radio bands to FM bands, spew out a vile and banal concoction of information that numbs the mind and homogenizes the thought processes of a U.S. citizenry scurrying about to support the "war effort." So-called "news programs" seek to pacify and assure during the commute, the thunderstorm, the shopping spree, the murder. Weather, roads, guns, cars, food are all endowed by newsreaders with character as if those "things" are conscious entities. As Herbert Marcuse so adroitly pointed out, in this environment people don't "see" themselves, they project themselves into "things". Viewers are commodities to the U.S. media interests. "Thought" need not apply here. ...

So it's no surprise that U.S. media interests enthusiastically embrace all the activities that move money from one hand to another, but none that move a contrary, novel or critical idea from one mind to another. ...

... the stupefying advertisements and "news" inserts that come with viewing or listening to any broadcast programming from U.S. media interests leaves the viewer punch-drunk. The nauseating blend of politics, sound-bites, comedy, murder, "reality", "Hollywood", "news", "graphic footage" ---- intermixed with the viscous commercialism that plays on procreation, death, and productivity---put forth by owners and news readers of infotainment interests stands as one of the most mercenary acts in capitalist history. ...

Here's one portion relevant to the Iraq fiasco, and once again I'll claim opposition to this War of Choice, that seems very solid:
As U.S. military planners, politicians and corporations continue their global pacification campaign against a now trumped up Al Qeida, they have already planned for the invasion of Iraq and, perhaps, other members of the Axis of Evil. To garner public support for boundless U.S. military operations--from which new exploitable markets magically appear--the war machine has received the enthusiastic support of U.S. media interests whose task, it seems, is to keep the public busy and acquiescent. In reality, most American's are extraordinarily adverse to war, yet the U.S. media interests upon which they rely for "thought" are the integral operatives for U.S. war propaganda and concomitant public indoctrination.

I'll close with a portion of Jeff Cohen's "Cable News Confidential" provided by Greg Palast. Jeff, who will be in Huntsville, Alabama this Friday evening, wrote:
It’s says a lot about TV news that people like Phil Donahue, who correctly questioned the Iraq war, have been banished from the system. Yet I’m unaware of a single TV executive, anchor, pundit or “expert” who lost their job for getting such a huge story so totally wrong. I do know of a hawkish host on MSNBC who was taken off the air—he became the general manager of the channel.
Thank goodness for alternatives. I 'll remain a news junkie yet I surely get frustrated with what I hear and see. No coverage of the 2008 Presidential candidates issue positions but they'll cover the horse race for sure. At least we now know who the father is of Anna Nicole's daughter. What's the alternative to the dominance of "Big Media"? Studying, alternative sources, calling the media conglomerates on their BS, funding public highspeed, public media, checking foreign sources, regulations, exposure, less consumption, education, supporting public service journalism, fair elections, leadership, sharing of ideas, discourse ... Any othe solutions or at least ways to cope? Is there any hope? Peace ... or War!

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