|December 1, 2004|
It's the Media, Stupid
Do you believe in miracles? Well, I do, and I pray for one every day because if we are to survive as a republic, it appears that's what it's going to take. It would be a miracle if the media or the slumbering citizens of this country would wake up and realize that horrible society changes have already been put into motion and, left unchecked, will undoubtedly continue to spiral downward until we hit that fascist wall.
I am not just a silly doomsayer -- a crazy man trying to deal with his own pessimism by hoping for a miracle to ward off the inevitable. I wish that were the case, but my fear is that the majority of us are being groomed -- conditioned -- by a handful of powerful elites to accept our role as lifelong bottom feeders whose only goal in life is to serve those born into gentility. This administration is involved in a jihad against the middle class in America -- piling debt upon it, shredding protective regulations, casting aside health, education and welfare programs -- squeezing it out of existence. While nobody is looking, the rich are getting richer and richer and the poor are sliding even deeper into the quicksand of poverty.
The creepy acceptance of "Industrial Corporatism" (an acronym for fascism) in America seems to have opened a chilling demonic floodgate, it would appear that we Americans are destined to be herded to a scary place that kindles a wrathful appetite for power and greed. I regret being a messenger who predicts an avalanche of inequality and hardship but, if you think corporate America has already reared its ugly head, think again because the last four years is only a simple meow compared to the blood-curdling roars we will hear in the next four.
The 21st century, once so full of shining promise, now threatens to force countless millions of us at home and abroad into a dark abyss of languishing poverty and silent servitude; a lowly prodigy of painful struggle and suffering that could stream for generations to come. It is becoming more apparent that billionaire businessmen, Wall Street brokers, national news media outlets, and most Ivy League scholars are, for the most part, willing -- even sadistic participants who give little thought to what they have already done or for what they are about to do.
Moreover, it is highly unlikely that conventional historians will ever be allowed to archive how the morbid vultures wined and dined on our deteriorating failures. History books rarely expose the guilty scavengers; however, you may someday read about it in another country outside our borders. Or perhaps the Alternative Internet media may very well prove to be the one source left within that records this madness. But even that is being threatened and some of us who dare to speak out against the inhumanity can sometimes hear rapid footsteps behind us. That's why we must not look back, and why we must only run faster while there's still time.
Industrial Corporatism has an intense hate of democracy. It feels it should be liberated from the bothersome restraints of democratic regulations, oversight and due process of law. First and foremost -- monopolizing all divisions of the mainstream media was, and still is, its top priority. It has built a brick and mortar containment wall of secrecy that hides its motives from the American public by using its recruited media consortium as the needed tool to lie, twist and cheat anyone abroad to protect their advancements while producing the best acceptable public image at home.
By consolidating with the media, and by having them peddle their propaganda, Industrial Corporatists have perfected the perfect crime of the century. Even if it gets a gets a little too hot for those involved, they can always depend on "Congress," Michael Powell's FCC, the faux Justice system and the Bush White House to extinguish any undesired heat to prevent anyone from getting parched or burned.
Lets get real -- the control of the opinion-molding media is nearly monolithic. All of the controlled media -- television, radio, newspapers, magazines, books, motion pictures -- speak with a single voice, each reinforcing the other. Despite the appearance of variety, there is no real dissent, no alternative source of facts or ideas accessible to the great mass of people that might allow them to form opinions at odds with those of the media masters.
Let's start with the print media: In 1945, four out of five American newspapers were independently owned and published by local people with close ties to their communities. Those days, however, are gone. Most of the independent newspapers were bought out or driven out of business by the mid-1970s. Today less than 20 percent of the country's 1,483 papers are independently owned; the rest belong to multi-newspaper chains. Only 104 of the total number have circulations of more than 100,000. Only a handful are large enough to maintain independent reporting staffs outside their own communities; the rest must depend on information passed to them from conglomerates like the Associated Press for all of their national and international news.
The suppression of competition and the establishment of monopolies on the dissemination of news and opinion have characterized the rise of Industrial Corporatists ability to control the flow of information Americans read, listen to and watch. This results in their ability to use the press as an unopposed mouthpiece of corporate policy and agenda. Three of the most prestigious and influential examples are: the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, and the Washington Post. These three mega goliaths dominate America's financial and political capitals, and are the newspapers that set the trends and guidelines for nearly all the others. They are the ones that decide what is news and what isn't, at both national and international levels. They originate the news; the others merely copy it. Sadly, none of the three newspapers serve the majority interest of Americans.
In continuing, government deregulation of the telecommunications industry has resulted in an accelerated wave of corporate mergers and acquisitions that have produced a handful of multi-billion-dollar media conglomerates. The largest of these conglomerates are rapidly growing even bigger by consuming their competition, almost tripling in size during the 1990s.
Whenever you watch television, whether from a local broadcasting station or via cable or a satellite dish; whenever you see a feature film in a theater or at home; whenever you listen to the radio or to recorded music; whenever you read a newspaper, book, or magazine -- it is very likely the information or entertainment you receive was produced and/or distributed by one of these few mega-media companies.
The largest media conglomerate today is AOL-Time Warner, created when America Online bought Time Warner for $160 billion in 2000. Before the merger, AOL was the largest Internet service provider in America. Time Warner, with 1997 revenues of more than $13 billion, was the second largest of the international media leviathans when it was bought by AOL. Time Warner subsidiary HBO is the country's largest pay-TV cable network. Until the purchase in May 1998 Warner Music was America's largest record company, with 50 labels, the biggest of which is Warner Brothers Records (WEA).
Disney is the second-largest media conglomerate today, and the empire includes several television production companies (Walt Disney Television, Touchstone Television, Buena Vista Television) and cable networks with more than 100 million subscribers altogether. It also has a major presence in radio, owning endless amounts of radio stations nationally abroad. As for feature films, the Walt Disney Motion Pictures Group, under Walt Disney Studios, includes Walt Disney Pictures, Touchstone Pictures, Hollywood Pictures, and Caravan Pictures and the lucrative Miramax Films.
The Disney Company also acquired Capital Cities/ABC, Inc., which owns the ABC Television Network, which in turn owns 10 TV stations outright in such big markets as New York, Chicago, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Houston. In addition, it has 225 affiliated stations in the United States and is part owner of several European TV companies.
This empire is no mere Mickey Mouse operation. In addition to its vast entertainment complex, Disney operates 660 retail stores worldwide (the figure is for April 2000). And, incidentally, it is also invested in crude oil and natural gas exploitation.
On the Internet, Disney runs Buena Vista Internet Group, ABC Internet Group, ABC.com, ABCNEWS.com, Oscar.com, Mr. Showbiz, Disney Online, Disney's Daily Blast, Disney.com, Family.com, ESPN Internet Group, ESPN.sportzone.com, Soccernet.com, NFL.com, NBA.com, Infoseek (partial ownership), and Disney Interactive.
Number three on the list is Viacom, with 1997 revenues of just over $13 billion. It was formed in 1971 as a way to dodge an anti-monopoly FCC ruling that required CBS to spin off a part of its cable TV operations and syndicated programming business. This move by the government unfortunately did nothing to reduce the monopoly that remains the major problem with the industry. In 1999, after CBS had again augmented itself by buying King World Productions (a leading TV program syndicator) Viacom acquired its progenitor company, CBS, in a double mockery of the spirit of the 1971 ruling.
Viacom produces and distributes TV programs for the three largest networks, owns 13 television stations and 12 radio stations. It also produces feature films through Paramount Pictures.
Viacom's publishing division includes Simon & Schuster, Scribner, The Free Press, Fireside, Archway Paperbacks and Minstrel Books, Anne Schwartz Books, MTV Books, Nickelodeon Books, Pocket Books, and Washington Square Press. It distributes videos through over 4,000 Blockbuster stores (including the Video Flicks chain in Australia). It is also involved in satellite broadcasting, theme parks, and video games.
Viacom's chief claim to fame, however, is as the world's largest provider of cable programming, through its Showtime, MTV, Nickelodeon, and other networks. Since 1989 MTV and Nickelodeon have acquired larger and larger shares of the juvenile television audience. The first quarter of 2001 was the 16th consecutive quarter in which MTV was rated as the Number One cable network for viewers between the ages of 12 and 24.
Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation, which owns Fox Television Network, 20th Century Fox Films, and Fox 2000, is the fourth largest mega-media corporation in the country, with revenues of over $11 billion. It is the only other media company, which comes even close.
The most obvious criticism of Industrial Corporatism is that their political machine is undemocratic. Using subversive techniques once aimed at communists, and with all the money they ever need to succeed, the Corporatist undemocratically controls our government, our media, and even a large sector of academia. These institutions in turn allow themselves to control the supposedly "free" market. It doesn't win all the time, of course -- witness Bill Clinton's impeachment trial -- but it has marked a track record of other victories elsewhere, all to the detriment of workers, consumers, women, minorities and the poor. We need to fight it with everything we've got and prevent it from advancing.
Come on, people -- wake up! We were left suspiciously unprotected on September 11, 2001. We stood, mute, through two unnecessary wars with others on Bush's drawing board, and two back-to-back stolen elections! What will it take to get the citizens of this great nation motivated? The starting gun has been fired, it was heard around the world and the race has begun. Why are we still standing at the starting line?
My wish for a miracle is that, before it is too late, the masses will figure it out and will stand as one and roar, "No More! Enough is Enough!" At that point, the media brainwashing will end and the corporate pigs who are feeding on the underbelly of our society will be driven from our midst. So, pass the word -- it's past time to take back what is ours -- the American Dream where the pursuit of happiness, the ability to live in a free and peaceful nation is a reality.
We bought it, and we paid for it. It's time to take it back.
A BUZZFLASH READER CONTRIBUTION
Vincent L Guarisco is a freelance writer from Bullhead City, Arizona, a contributing writer for many web sites, and a lifetime founding member of the Alliance of Atomic Veterans. Replies welcomed at: firstname.lastname@example.org
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