September 8, 2008
The myth of the liberal media bias was created decades ago but the talking points eventually stuck. Thankfully the only good thing from the past eight years is the obvious fact that there is no liberal media bias. In fact, it is quite obvious that the opposite is the case. There is a corporate media bias. Thanks to the concerted deregulation efforts of the Bush Administration in the media, all mainstream media is now owned and controlled by less than 10 companies. They are also primarily owned by pro-GOP companies. NBC for example is owned by General Electric, who does millions of dollars worth of business with the Bush government. Recently, I saw a new McCain ad extolling the gracious press for Sarah “The Empty Moose” Palin. Featured prominently was a recent gushing report from the Wall Street Journal. Of course many may have forgotten that the WSJ was recently bought by Rupert Murdoch, who promptly fired all independent thinkers and replaced them with GOP henchmen. This is the damage that is done by a corporate media. The truth is packaged instead of reported.
Looking back over the past decade it is impossible to have any discourse on the state of the media without a discussion of the FOX effect. FOX has never been a news agency. It has been a propaganda arm of the Murdoch Conservative News Empire. Murdoch, an Australian billionaire is renowned for his conservative bent and desire to see it spread worldwide. He subsidizes the New York Post to the tune of multi-million dollar losses every year simply to keep his twisted version of reality on the New York streets. Now, everyone knew when FOX came out that it was a joke, and a poorly crafted one. There was no real news. Their silly catch phrases were immediately identified as being designed to be the polar opposite of what they really represented. They were not fair and balanced; they were unfair and imbalanced to the right. They never “reported and let you decide”; they packaged their opinion as news and tried to tell you what to think. Their broadcasts were all designed to sell the GOP talking points. They cast clearly right-wing-nuts such as Bill O’Reilly as “moderates” or independents and gave them prime-time news-opinion slots. Even the show that was supposed to present both sides, Hannity and Colmes was designed to give the right wing opinion far more weight. It started by matching up the belligerent and jaw-jutting Hannity as the right wing opinion with the milquetoast quiet guy in Colmes as the “left” opinion. They would schedule far right wingers as guests and match them up with moderates; but they pretended the moderates were left-wingers. The result is that all of the coverage was heavily slanted to the right and the moderate voices began being marketed as the left, all but eliminating true liberal opinion from the network. We saw the results immediately, as it was FOX that initially called Florida for George W. Bush, when they never should have. The other networks, fearing they were being “scooped”, followed suit. Never mind that the analyst “calling” it for Bush was actually related to him and that every fair analysis since proves that Gore actually won Florida.
The FOX effect would soon infiltrate other networks. Soon even formerly fair networks such as MSNBC copied the model. At one time, just a few years ago, the MSNBC prime time lineup included hosts such as Tucker Carlson, a noted Republican spinmeister and Joe Scarborough, a former GOP Congressman being offered as “independent.” Chris Matthews was the standard-bearer but he has always been a Bush apologist and was linked to Jack Abramoff as well. The result was palpable. The guests were all designed to copy the FOX model. Pat Buchanan was and still is a regular guest on all shows, despite the fact that he is as far right wing as humanly possible. But the people offered on the left were never far enough left to properly balance. Then something funny happened on the way to another propaganda network. Keith Olbermann entered the picture and the American people responded.
Olbermann would eventually start to balance out the prime time lineup by covering the stories previously covered up and presented the other opinion and often the unreported truth. His scathing “special comments” would gain instant fame on youtube as a truth starved nation was eagerly eating it up. He also restored some sanity to the guest list and eventually would bring in a real liberal, Rachel Maddow, of Air America fame. I am sure the network big wigs assumed Olbermann would fail but instead he started beating everyone, including O’Reilly in the ratings. Seems America had finally caught on that they were being spoon fed GOP talking points instead of the news. They liked a show that actually tried to discuss the truth. Soon Tucker would be jettisoned by the network and Scarborough had been shifted to the AM shows because he was not being bought anymore by the public as a “regular Joe.” Recently it was announced that Maddow would get her own show; a real sign of the times and admission by MSNBC that the balance of power had finally started to shift back to the center. Things were looking great for the upcoming election season. You still had GOP shills such as Matthews and Buchanan but at least you had Olbermann and Maddow to provide balance. Never mind that you would still see discredited folks such as Stephen Hayes and Michael Brown on the NBC networks, at least there was someone to counter the spin and talking points with some reality.
Apparently however, the folks who really call the shots behind the scenes have decided that they do not want that honesty this election season. It was announced today that MSNBC has pulled Olbermann and Matthews as the co-anchors of their election season coverage. The alleged reason is there was “growing criticism” that they were too opinionated. Can’t have honest opinions during a corporate election now can we? They were afraid supposedly that they could not be seen as neutral. Are you kidding me? Do you think Brit Hume is seen as neutral? What about Wolf Blitzer? These are all administration whores dressed up as “neutral” newsmen. The report of this change went on to criticize Olbermann for being critical of the GOP for airing an 11 minute tribute to 9-11 during the RNC. Unfortunately for the corporate media heads, Olbermann, who lost friends in the attacks, was spot-on. The “tribute” was nothing more than political theater using the memories of the dead for political gain. The images used were crude and insensitive. I understand the GOP desire to pay tribute to 9-11 because without it they would not have much control over anything nowadays but Olbermann was correct to denounce it. The fact that MSNBC is using that brief apology and that is all Olbermann did - apologize, as an excuse is beyond reprehensible.
They are saying that this will allow Olbermann and Matthews more opportunity to express their views but this sure smells like the folks who have the contracts with the government and want those dollars to keep rolling in have decided to lay the ax to the root of any real criticism. Is news supposed to be neutral? Sure, in terms of uncovering the truth. If that truth however implicates one party or the other, it is not being partisan to report that truth. THAT is where this explanation falls short. News is not supposed to be a blank slate for political parties to use as they see fit. There should be discernment and follow up questions. Just once when John McCain says his silly “drill here, drill now” sound bite I would like to see someone in the media ask him, WHY? Why, when all studies have concluded that it will result in nothing for 30 years and even then, it will have no real effect at all. Just once when a GOP talking head claims that Palin has “executive” experience, I would like to see a reporter tear that argument apart. We do not need the media to regurgitate what the candidates say. We need them to analyze them for accuracy and report the truth, not talking points.
We started to see glimmers of this. Last week Campbell Brown of CNN grilled a top McCain flack about the obvious experience problem their campaign has with Sarah Palin. The poor flack had been so unused to actually having his nonsensical talking points questioned that he became all flustered and couldn’t answer. The McCain team response was to cancel the appearance for McCain on that evening’s Larry King Live show; out of pure spite. They told CNN they canceled the appearance because they felt Brown had “crossed the line.” I kid you not. A journalist asked real questions of a candidate’s spokesperson and THAT is deemed as crossing the line. When asked about Palin not doing the Sunday talk show circuit, the campaign arrogantly replied that they can “do whatever we want.” So they hide Palin from the media because they know she cannot answer anything substantively and think they can dictate to the media. As if the media needs to McCain campaign and not the other way around. Why can they be so arrogant? Because the media is owned by administration puppets who know that if the Campbell Brown’s of the world get too honest, they can be cut off at the knees. They can be arrogant because they know that if the Keith Olbermann’s of the world hit too close to the truth, they can be removed as the anchor of the network election coverage.
John McCain can run roughshod over the corporate media because he knows they want him elected. Not the actual persons covering the news but the people behind the decisions. The men behind the curtain. The same ones who take a Katie Couric interview with John McCain and cut out an incorrect answer on foreign policy and splice in stock footage and a sound bite. When caught, they have the audacity to say, “Mistakes happen.” Yeah, so does a corporate media pimping propaganda through the subversion of democracy. It is a shame; there had finally been some progress in the media lately. The Tuckers of the world had finally been exposed and dumped. The balance had started to shift back to the center but someone in the back office took note and just shoved it violently back to the right. We can’t have the truth ruining a corporately staged election now can we?