Wednesday, December 29, 2010

News Inc

Today, American journalism is replete with incestuous relationships between government, industry, and academia, thanks to a few of the largest Fortune 500 corporations that own and operate news organizations. What we call mainstream "news" is now a bottom-line serving propaganda machine, riddled with conflicts of interest. Moreover, mainstream "journalists" have morphed into strategic communication professionals.And authentic investigative journalism does not exist, if it ever really existed in the mainstream media when you take into account all that the Internet has unearthed from as far back as the 1930s. However, it seems, whatever the situation was, it may be far worse now.

Because of the incestuous "working relationship" government and corporate media enjoy, average Americans receive not only a censored version of reality, but also many times, a fabricated version of reality. The fourth estate, the press, rather than acting as watchdog of American democracy, is now an instrument of the growing corpocracy that is in the process of transforming America from a Constitutional Republic to an oligarchy.

Glenn Greenwald, a former constitutional law and civil rights litigator and author of two New York Times Bestselling books: "How Would a Patriot Act?", "A Tragic Legacy" and most recently, "Great American Hypocrites", eloquently depicts the corporatized mainstream media as he analyzes and describes his own experience in his recent article: The merger of journalists and government officials

"...Over the last month, I've done many television and radio segments about WikiLeaks and what always strikes me is how indistinguishable -- identical -- are the political figures and the journalists. There's just no difference in how they think, what their values and priorities are, how completely they've ingested and how eagerly they recite the same anti-WikiLeaks, "Assange = Saddam" script. So absolute is the WikiLeaks-is-Evil bipartisan orthodoxy among the Beltway political and media class (forever cemented by the joint Biden/McConnell decree that Assange is a "high-tech Terrorist,") that you're viewed as being from another planet if you don't spout it. It's the equivalent of questioning Saddam's WMD stockpile in early 2003.

It's not news that establishment journalists identify with, are merged into, serve as spokespeople for, the political class: that's what makes them establishment journalists. But even knowing that, it's just amazing, to me at least, how so many of these "debates" I've done involving one anti-WikiLeaks political figure and one ostensibly "neutral" journalist -- on MSNBC with The Washington Post's Jonathan Capehart and former GOP Congresswoman Susan Molinari, on NPR with The New York Times' John Burns and former Clinton State Department official James Rubin, and last night on CNN with Yellin and Townsend -- entail no daylight at all between the "journalists" and the political figures. They don't even bother any longer with the pretense that they're distinct or play different assigned roles. I'm not complaining here -- Yellin was perfectly fair and gave me ample time -- but merely observing how inseparable are most American journalists from the political officials they "cover."

(2) From the start of the WikiLeaks controversy, the most striking aspect for me has been that the ones who are leading the crusade against the transparency brought about by WikiLeaks -- the ones most enraged about the leaks and the subversion of government secrecy -- have been . . . America's intrepid Watchdog journalists. What illustrates how warped our political and media culture is as potently as that? It just never seems to dawn on them -- even when you explain it -- that the transparency and undermining of the secrecy regime against which they are angrily railing is supposed to be . . . what they do.

What an astounding feat to train a nation's journalist class to despise above all else those who shine a light on what the most powerful factions do in the dark and who expose their corruption and deceit, and to have journalists -- of all people -- lead the way in calling for the head of anyone who exposes the secrets of the powerful. Most ruling classes -- from all eras and all cultures -- could only fantasize about having a journalist class that thinks that way, but most political leaders would have to dismiss that fantasy as too extreme, too implausible, to pursue. After all, how could you ever get journalists -- of all people -- to loathe those who bring about transparency and disclosure of secrets? But, with a few noble exceptions, that's exactly the journalist class we have.

There will always be a soft spot in my heart for Jessica Yellin because of that time when she unwittingly (though still bravely) admitted on air that -- when she worked at MSNBC -- NBC's corporate executives constantly pressured the network's journalists to make their reporting favorable to George Bush and the Iraq War (I say "unwittingly" because she quickly walked back that confession after I and others wrote about it and a controversy ensued). But, as Yellin herself revealed in that moment of rare TV self-exposure, that's the government-subservient corporate culture in which these journalists are trained and molded...."

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