Transcript from timeless speech given by Robert F. Kennedy Jr. on May 2, 2004 (first anniversary of George W. Bush's declaration of 'Mission Accomplished'). Slightly edited for ease of readability.
We need a press that is doing its job, and it isn't, that is why we have the principle problem with democracy. There's two big failures. One is all the corporate money that's going into our election process, and the second failure is that we have a negligent and indolent press in this country that has simply let down American democracy.
And you know, I travel all over the country and I hear people talking still about the liberal media.
That's what Joseph Goebbels used to call the big lie. If you just keep saying it and saying it and saying it; people begin believing it. There's no liberal media in this country. What do we have? We have the Nation's magazine, Mother Jones, Rolling Stone. We have Pacifica Radio, Air America, and you know, you have these two guys, and that's pretty much it! But we have a right wing media in this country, and if you look around, that's where Americans are disproportionately getting their news.
The Pew Foundation recently did a survey that shows that 30% of Americans now say their primary news source is talk radio, which is 90% controlled by the right. 22% said cable news, mainly FOX news, 10% said Sinclair Network, which is the largest, most right-wing network in our country, and it is run by a former pornographer who requires all 75 of his local affiliate stations to take a pledge that they will not report critically about this president, about the war in Iraq or a number of other issues.
Only 11% of Americans now read papers, where you still can get some relevant news--at least occasionally, but the rest of us get our news primarily from the traditional corporate owned media: ABC, CBS, NBC and CNN which have no ideology except their own pocketbooks. And that ideology is almost always coterminous with the ideology of the party in power, but particularly the Republican party. Because they are in support of all these corporate consolidations.
These are huge companies that have all kinds of subsidiaries that are looking for licensing deals, concessions from the government and they're not going to say something that offends them. You look on network television, and there's no liberal equivalent of John Stossel or Glenn Beck or Robert Novak or Sean Hannity, or Bill O'Reilly or any of these other guys.
Okay, you've got Alan Combs.. .(laughter) but that show-it's the Harlem Globetrotters and Combs plays the part of the Washington Generals. His whole job is to lose every argument. Here's what he said when President Bush declared 'Mission Accomplished': "Now that the war in Iraq is all but over, shouldn't the people in Hollywood that opposed the president admit they were wrong?"
That's from our GREAT liberal voice in the American media.
This devolution of the American press began in 1988, when Ronald Reagan abolished the Fairness Doctrine.
We had a rule in this country that was passed in 1928 at the dawn of commercial radio that was called the Fairness Doctrine, and that rule said the airwaves belonged to the public, that broadcasters can be licensed to use them, but only with the proviso that they be used to promote the public interest and to advance democracy.
There were three requirements of the Fairness Doctrine: