Of Tiger Blood and Birthers
During the first four days of the corporate media's fanatical coverage of actor Charlie Sheen's drug-addled, tiger-blooded neurosis, four more US soldiers were killed in combat in Afghanistan. Yet, CNN only took notice after a Facebook campaign initiated by a fellow soldier went viral, which pitted the coverage of fallen soldiers against the celebrity addict. The campaign galvanized tens of thousands of people to write the following on their Facebook pages:
"Charlie Sheen is all over the news because he's a celebrity drug addict, while Andrew Wilfahrt 31, Brian Tabada 21, Rudolph Hizon 22, Chauncy Mays 25, are soldiers who gave their lives this week with no media mention. Please honor them by posting this as your status update."
In addition to the nonstop updates about Charlie Sheen's "winning" streak, ABC's 20/20 and CNN's Piers Morgan cleared hour long time slots for Sheen to rant about his wild escapades and delusions of grandeur. Good Morning America also dedicated an entire show to broadcast live from Sheen's Hollywood home for a revelation not to be missed: his urine drug test results.
Showbiz mogul Charlie Sheen and his gaggle of euphemisms became quintessential brand name news, virally marketed by frothing media outlets worldwide. The public platform given to his breakdown resulted in him gaining a record breaking one million twitter followers in just one day, a feat which begat another onslaught of corporate news coverage.
Less than two weeks later, the devastating earthquake and nuclear disaster in Fukushima caused a brief switch in coverage to focus on the tragedy. However, once Donald Trump, billionaire real estate mogul and reality TV star, announced his presidential run and reignited the distracting "Birther" controversy surrounding questions about President Obama's birth certificate, the corporate media unquestioningly followed suit, propping up the non-issue to the forefront of political discourse.
There were barely any more discussions about the global implications of Fukushima's nuclear meltdown and the importance of pursuing sustainable energy alternatives. Instead of emphasizing the dangerous fact that there are 23 nuclear reactors in the US designed almost identically to those in Fukushima, the corporate media irresponsibly focused on Trump's crazed news "Birther" claims. Although the Fukushima crisis still loomed heavy, the media's focus shifted again- along with the American public's attention span.As Charlie Sheen's downward spiral and Trump's "Birther" issue reigned supreme in the corporate press, the US government continued its controversial bombing campaign against Libya unabated, potentially in violation of international law (something the nation's media should likely address instead of the latest Sheen or Trump distractions). The obsession over such superficialities dilutes rational debate on aspects of American foreign policy, like the affordability of spending $40 million a month in Libya when our country is already racked with debt, or the sheer contradiction of bombing other countries for "humanitarian" reasons.
Read full article at Media Roots.
Written by Abby Martin as an intro for the chapter Junk Food News in Project Censored's 2012 book.
Photo by flickr user ssoosay