That secular priesthood with its opinion makers, academics and journalists must have an effective and pervasive platform through which to inculcate and constantly reinforce their message on behalf of the oligarchy that now effectively controls all substantive public policy in the U.S. while the populace is reduced to participating in dog and pony show elections at regular intervals.
Award winning journalists Robert Parry, Chris Hedges and Paul Craig Roberts have been marginalized by the corporate mass media after refusing to go along with the false narratives presented in connection with economic and foreign policy. They each tell a similar story in terms of their exile after refusing to toe the line on U.S. support for violent militias and destabilization in Central America in the 1980's, the run-up to the Iraq War in 2003 and the misrepresentation of economic conditions in the U.S.. Their experiences indicate there are three things that a journalist who wants to have a long-term and lucrative career will generally not report on: 1) stories that will offend the corporate media owners, 2) stories that will offend the corporate media advertisers, and 3) stories that will jeopardize their relationships with those in power.
Enabled by the 1996 Telecommunications Act, which saw a major deregulation of mergers in the media industry, 90% of what most people read, watch, or listen to in the U.S. comes from an entity that is owned by 1 of 6 corporate conglomerates: Comcast, Disney Company, News Corporation, Time Warner, Viacom and CBS Corporation. Each of these six conglomerates, in turn, has financial relations through boards of directors who have ties to other corporate interests, namely the Military-Industrial Complex (MIC), Fossil Fuels, Banking, Big Ag, and Big Pharma.
A few examples include: Disney has relations with Boeing and City National Bank; NBC with Honeywell, Chase Manhattan, and New York Stock Exchange; Viacom with Honeywell, Bear Stearns, Chase Manhattan, Morgan Chase and Pfizer; CNN/Time with Chevron, Citigroup, and Pfizer; News Corporation with Phillip Morris, Rothschild Investments and New York Stock Exchange; New York Times Company with Alcoa, Bristol Myers Squibb, Carlyle Group, Chase Manhattan, Lehman Bros., and Texaco; Wall Street Journal with Clear Channel, Pfizer, Texaco and Shell Oil; Knight Ridder with Bank of America, Eli Lilly, GE, Raytheon and Phillips Petroleum.
The Mass Media -- Mechanisms of Control
The experiences of journalists like Hedges, Perry and Roberts should come as no surprise according to the propaganda model outlined by analysts Noam Chomsky and Edward Herman in the seminal 1988 book Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media. Their model identifies five sets of filters that represent the methods by which a private and reputedly "free" media actually serve as the means by which the population is conditioned to believe what the elites who control American society want them to believe: that America is governed by a fair, democratic and legitimate system, despite actual evidence to the contrary. We will focus on the first three filters below.
The first filter, which we've already discussed, is the corporate ownership of the mass media. The corporate boards hire and/or approve editors who will enforce acceptable narratives based on their interests.
A second filter of corporate control related to profit motive that is less obvious is the media's reliance on advertising to make money rather than selling a quality news product. Newspapers, magazines, broadcast and internet programming make most of their money from selling space to corporate advertisers, which consequently drives the motivation to produce content that will grab people's attention in order to attract advertising dollars. Thus, the emphasis is on sensationalist stories focused on sex, violence and celebrities. According to the Pew Research Center's Journalism & Media project, "69% of all domestic news revenue is derived from advertising."