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America's “Free Press”
The more corporations spend on it, the less value it has

by Bryan Zepp Jamieson
February 27, 2011

If America had a free press at the mainstream level that was worth a damn, then the Republican Party would be finished by now.

As it is, the Republicans have to spend millions and millions of dollars on their vast right wing echo chamber. But all that would be for naught if it were not for the complicity of the mainstream media, which obediently adopts their talking points and their framings, and thus presents news as seen from the viewpoint of the GOP – and nobody else.

Take the coverage of the events in Wisconsin, for example. Tune into the major networks, or open the pages of America's justifiably dying newspaper industry, and you will come away with the impression that Walker is taking strong and brave steps to protect Wisconsin from a crippling deficit (and claims on this deficit run as high as 2.3 billion dollars, although in reality is is about $140 million), and is opposed by the unions that caused the deficit in the first place. Left unmentioned by the teleflacks and newswire stories that sometimes resemble journalism is the fact that there was no deficit before Walker took office, that the unions had already agreed to the items that the governor had demanded to close the gap created by his tax giveaways, or that his legislation also permits him to sell off the state's power-generation grid without even requiring bids. This, of course, is above and beyond his efforts to strip state workers of the right to collective bargaining.

The power-plant scheme is a good example of the strutting kleptocracy that is the hallmark of the GOP; the power generation plants are a public asset worth tens of billions, that he proposes to sell on a crony basis for cents on the dollar, and and while he's at it, deregulate what the new owners of the plants could charge the public for power generated by the plants the public owned already.

It's a bit like having a car worth $20,000 that you need to commute to work. Someone comes along, explains that he's going to save you the price of gas, maintenance and insurance, sells your car to his brother for $2,000, and the brother than charges you $300 a week to rent the car to commute, something that previously cost you under $100!

If you think it couldn't happen, then you need only think back to 1993, after Governor Pete Wilson (R-Enron) of California “deregulated” the state's power grid, selling off the power plants without bids to outfits such as Enron and Radiant, lifted regulations on what they could charge the public, retired, and watched from the sidelines as his successor got blamed for the brown-outs staged to try to frighten the public into supporting huge increases in energy prices, increases that burden Californians twenty years later.

That was our second intimation that America's once-vaunted press had turned into a savage parody of itself. (The first was their concerted treatment of Al Gore in the campaign the year before.) Instead of noting that the power companies, in complicity with the Bush administration, were flat-out raping Californians, they ran stories about mega-mansions and jacuzzis, and effectively blamed Californians for being profligate and wasteful and said that they had brought the brown-outs and increased rates down on their own heads. They stolidly and deliberately ignored the fact that California had the second-lowest per capita power usage in the country, or that California alone had reduced per-capita power usage over the past twenty years.

If American newspapers were ineffectual whores and suck-ups twenty years ago, what makes anyone think they will be any better now? If anything, they'll have only become more polished in their ability to ignore actual news in favor of the GOP / rich man dream for America.

There will be individual journalists who will try to get the story out. But it's getting harder and harder. Cheesy, cowardly outfits will continue dumping liberal voices, even when they are the top attractions for the station, as the pathetic MSNBC did, first with Phil Donahue, and then with Keith Olbermann. Meanwhile, Faux News will continue inverting polls (as they infamously did this week, trying to claim that 61% of Americans opposed the unions, when in fact it was the other way around) and fabricating stories and planting false evidence to support them, such as the “video mixup” for a Tea Bagger rally where attendance fell far short of one held six months earlier, so they simply took the video from the first rally and presented it as 'live coverage' of the second, less-successful rally.

If you are silly enough to depend on mainstream media for your information, then you probably haven't heard that Roger Ailes, president of Faux News, could face indictment for telling a subordinate to lie to federal prosecutors. (In fairness, the story was broken by the New York Times, who sometimes remember that they were a great newspaper).

You may recall that the right turned themselves inside out, trying to indict then-President Clinton for doing just that, supposedly encouraging Monica Lewinsky to lie to federal prosecutors. This was considered such a grave matter that twenty years after the special prosecutors office concluded the charges had no merit, rightwingers still rave about it as proof of the moral bankruptcy of the Clinton administration – which, by the way, was the “cleanest” administration, based on indictments and convictions, of any administration in the twentieth century.

The media are starting to pick it up now that word is out that Ailes might be indicted, perhaps by March 1st. The NY Times, as noted, did break the story.

I bet Faux hasn't reported on it yet.

Of course, Ailes allegedly ordered Judith Regan to lie about her sexual liaison with Bernie Kerik in order to protect a leading GOP candidate that year, Rudolph Guiliani. (Remember him?)

Newscorp responded to the story by stonewalling. They simply released a memo stating that they considered the matter to be closed.

Gosh, now why didn't Clinton think of that? Say, the day after Drudge was fed the “blue dress” story by Kenneth Starr's office? “As far as the allegations about Ms. Lewinski are concerned, I consider the matter to be closed.” I'm sure if Bill Clinton had said that, the whole issue would have gone away overnight.

Just for laughs, I went to Matt Drudge's page to see what he had to say about it. After all, ordering subordinates to lie to the feds is a very, very serious accusation to make.

No mention of Ailes. But then, Matt's very busy, what with it being Oscars' weekend, and cold weather in February, and the latest Charlie Sheen implosion. A REAL journalist can only cover so many stories at once, right?

Well, how about CNN? They're rivals to Faux News, and might be forgiven for a little schadenfreude, right? Nope. Lead political story is “Defiant governor says Wisconsin is 'broke'”; 'Defiant governor digs in as Wisconsin prepares to evict protesters.' Oh, that brave, noble Walker, standing up to those evil unions! What a sphincter-swelling story for American parents to tell their children!

They did give workers a pat on the head, though. One of their hacks wrote a column entitled “The left is freaking out over Wisconsin" Silly leftists! We should learn to be raped quietly. It will be much more enjoyable that way.

What about the LA Times? They had articles about the Oscars, the snow that fell last night, and the death of Dodger great Duke Snider. Granted, theses are all stories of intense local interest. But the only mention of Ailes was in a three-dot journalism column called Company Town, sandwiched between breathless prose about Charlie Sheen and the next bit, also about Newscorp, entitled “What Rupert wants, Rupert gets.”

At least they didn't dismiss the public rage over Walker's efforts to eliminate public involvement in the state by accusing “the left” of just having a spazz attack, or similar condescending bullshit of the sort we expect from corporate whores posing as journalists.

This comes as in dozens of states and in Congress, the GOP moves to to abolish social security, unemployment insurance, and eliminate labor laws and farm programs.

And the mainstream media has little or nothing to say about this, instead saying that 'austerity measures' are necessary to combat the huge national debt. The same huge debt that they neglect to mention was caused, for the most part, by Republicans giving huge tax breaks to the rich, and getting America involved in endless, can't-win, can't-even-break-even land wars in Asia.

It takes a lot of money and a bought-out, supine media to support that. There's a reason why I look at the state of American mainstream media, and note that if it's dying, it's because it fucking deserves to die. It isn't doing the job it was established to do, which was serve the public interest. In what way do the condescending louts at CNN benefit the American people?

General Dwight Eisenhower once said: “Should any political party attempt to abolish social security, unemployment insurance, and eliminate labor laws and farm programs, you would not hear of that party again in our political history. There is a tiny splinter group, of course, that believes you can do these things. Among them are H. L. Hunt (you possibly know his background), a few other Texas oil millionaires, and an occasional politician or business man from other areas. Their number is negligible and they are stupid.”

They're still stupid, as Walker's phone conversation with the fake “Koch brother” illustrates. But they are rich, and stupid, and know they can prevail by ensuring that Americans are poorer and stupider than they are.

The media, for the most part, are their handmaidens.

Posted: March 4, 2011

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