10 October 2014

Corporate Media and Censorship In America

"Even today, there is little value in insuring the survival of our nation if our traditions do not survive with it. And there is very grave danger that an announced need for increased security will be seized upon those anxious to expand its meaning to the very limits of official censorship and concealment.

That I do not intend to permit to the extent that it is in my control. And no official of my Administration, whether his rank is high or low, civilian or military, should interpret my words here tonight as an excuse to censor the news, to stifle dissent, to cover up our mistakes or to withhold from the press and the public the facts they deserve to know."

John F. Kennedy, The President and the Press, 27 April 1961

"There are men, now in power in this country, who do not respect dissent, who cannot cope with turmoil, and who believe that the people of America are ready to support repression as long as it is done with a quiet voice and a business suit."

John Lindsay

This link below is a fairly long and very interesting discussion of the recent crisis in the Ukraine, and what some of the bigger picture implications and reasons for it may be.

However, I am starting this video towards the end, so that you can hear one key point that Professor Stephen Cohen of Princeton makes that is in my opinion essential.

He states that there is no longer a place in the popular mainstream media for debate over the different positions and opinions on key policy questions outside of a narrow range of acceptable views as decided by a few major media outlets.  If there is a dissenting view that is distasteful to the powerful interests that influence the government, they will not allow it to be heard or discussed rationally, except perhaps in a few scholarly journals out of the reach of most.

And in this I think he is absolutely correct. And it is not just about issues such as a new Cold War, but on a broad range of social and financial topics as well.  Journalism as I once knew it no longer exists except in select locations on the Internet.

Staged discussions between paid 'strategists' from the two major political parties with commentary from a few corporate media representatives is not journalism, and does not provide the platform for the serious discussion of issues that affect all of us.

The seeds for the decline of American mainstream media were sown by the overturn in 1987 of the Fairness Doctrine which required broadcasters to air both side of controversial subjects, and not just the officially sanctioned sides of a carefully selected and phrased question or topic. 

And the Communications Act of 1934 was further gutted by the Telecommunications Act of 1996 which permitted corporate conglomerates to acquire and establish powerful monopolies across the press, radio, and television.

I am finding too many cases where topics are being effectively censored by implicit agreement of the corporate media to either not cover a story, or to permit only certain aspects and views of an issue to be heard.

I am no big fan of the governments of either Russia or China.  It is the oligarchs who like the way these statist governments operate, but only when they are making deals with them and getting their way.   It was Bill Gates who came back from a tour of China in 2005 and praised this new kind of capitalism.

I have been to both Russia and China, and I prefer neither of those brands of oligarchy and monopoly in alliance with the State.  And so I am concerned about the modern attraction by the powerful in the West to emulate them, to manage the news, to establish monopolies, and to hide behind secrecy as they engage in undemocratic backroom deals with powerful interests as a standard matter of doing the business of the nation.

This de facto censoring of the news in the West is not a healthy situation.  And so we must get information about important topics where we can.   The coverage of too many news topics, from Snowden to the financial crisis to the Ukraine, have been disgracefully one sided and carry the stink of propaganda wrapped in a  press under the thumb of a few moneyed interests.

You may wish to listen to the entire interview which I found to be most interesting.  Please click on the link below to start the interview at the point of discussing censorship.

               Salon, Obama's Unprecedented War on Whistleblowers