May 09, 2004

Nowadays, these mega-media conglomerates relieve government of the need for censorship by doing it themselves. So we're reminded once again that journalism's best moments have come not when journalists make common cause with the state but stand fearlessly

It's the Media, Stupid.

Bill Moyers, PBS Now: Nowadays, these mega-media conglomerates relieve government of the need for censorship by doing it themselves. So we're reminded once again that journalism's best moments have come not when journalists make common cause with the state but stand fearlessly independent of it. A free press remains everything to a free society.

Break the Bush Cabal Stranglehold on the "US
Mainstream News Media," Show Up for Democracy in 2004:
Defeat Bush (again!)


http://truthout.org/docs_04/050804I.shtml

The Media, Politics and Censorship
By Bill Moyers
PBS

Friday 07 May 2004

The war in Iraq has become also a war of images.
This week, we were troubled by pictures of tortured
Iraqi prisoners. Last week, it was photographs of
American soldiers who have given their lives there.

On Friday a week ago on Nightline, Ted Koppel read
the names of the dead and showed their photographs.
But their faces and names were blacked out on ABC
stations owned by Sinclair Broadcasting. Sinclair
accused Koppel of "...doing nothing more than making a
political statement."

But what about Sinclair's own political agenda?
With 62 stations the company is the biggest of its
kind in the country and has lobbied successfully in
Washington for permission to grow even bigger. Its
executives are generous contributors to the Republican
party.

After 9/11, there were reports their on-air talent
had been required to read statements affirming a
station's 100% support for the President. And the
company's Vice President for Corporate Communications,
Mark Hyman, doubles as the on-air commentator on The
Point, a daily commentary segment that airs in cities
across the country via Sinclair's News Central
channel. Hyman is known to regularly "stimulate public
discourse" with statements like, "Clinton was too busy
chasing skirts to chase terrorists."

Earlier this year, he was sent to Iraq to
editorialize on the good things happening there.

That's Sinclair's prerogative, of course. Every
news organization has First Amendment rights, just as
I'm exercising mine right now. But speaking out is one
thing, keeping others from being heard is another.
Sinclair censored Koppel.

And when the Democratic National Committee wanted
to buy time for a spot critical of the President,
Sinclair's station in Madison, Wisconsin, said no.

Sinclair's not alone with cozy ties to Washington.
Clear Channel, the biggest radio conglomerate in the
country (with twelve hundred stations plus), was a big
winner in the deregulation frenzy triggered by
Congress in 1996. Last year Clear Channel was a
cheerleader for the invasion of Iraq with pro-war
rallies.

Rupert Murdoch's a big Washington winner, too.
Congress and the Republican controlled Federal
Communications Commission let him off the hook even
though his News Corp. owned more stations than the
rules allowed.

Murdoch also controls Fox News, another big
cheerleader for American policy in Iraq, the New York
Post. For a week, the Post refused to publish
photographs of those tortured Iraqi prisoners saying
the pictures would "reflect poorly" on the troops
risking their lives there.

Again, it's their right. Freedom of the press, it
has been famously said, is guaranteed only to those
who own one.

That's just the point. These media giants can be
within their rights even while doing wrong. It's the
system, dear Brutus, the system...a cartel, in effect,
of big companies and big government scratching each
other's back.

It wasn't supposed to be that way. The founders of
our government didn't think it a good idea for the
press and state to gang up on public opinion. So they
added to the Constitution a Bill of Rights whose First
Amendment was to be a kind of firewall between the
politicians who hold power and the press that should
hold power accountable. The very first American
newspaper was a little three-page affair whose editor
said he wanted to "cure the spirit of lying..." The
government promptly shut him down on grounds he didn't
have the required state license.

Nowadays, these mega-media conglomerates relieve
government of the need for censorship by doing it
themselves. So we're reminded once again that
journalism's best moments have come not when
journalists make common cause with the state but stand
fearlessly independent of it. A free press remains
everything to a free society.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Bill Moyers is host of the public affairs series
NOW with Bill Moyers, which airs weekly on Friday
nights on PBS
(check local listings at
http://www.pbs.org/now/sched.html).
-------

Jump to TO Features for Saturday May 8, 2004
Today's TO Features -------------- New York Times |
Donald Rumsfeld Should Go Private Contractors
Investigated for Torture at Abu Ghraib, Iraq U.S. Must
Leave Fallujah, Iraq General Says $25 Billion More
Sought to Fund Iraq War Robert Fisk | Smoke Them 'Bin
Laden' Offers Gold for Killing Bremer, Annan
Companies, Economists Address Climate Change America
and Its Moral Superiority Complex Bill Moyers | The
Media, Politics and Censorship Soldiers Back in U.S.
Tell of More Iraqi Abuses t r u t h o u t Home

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Posted by richard at May 9, 2004 11:15 AM