Friday, February 25, 2005

Barsamian: Media Censorship: "The New York Times, this great liberal newspaper, had 70 editorials between September 11, 2001 and the attack on Iraq, March 20, 2003. In not one of those editorials was the UN Charter, the Nuremberg Tribunal, or any aspect of international law ever mentioned. Now, those guys know that these things exist, and that’s a perfect example of censorship by omission. And so if you were reading the New York Times over that period, during the buildup to the war, you would not have had the sense that the United States was planning on doing something that was a gross violation of international law, and national law for that matter."

"In Ben Bagdikian’s Media Monopoly in 1983, he said there were 50 corporations that control most of the media. Then it became 28, then 23, then 14. Then 10. Then, in his latest book, it’s down to 5. 5 corporations control the media. And by the media, I don’t just mean TV. I mean Hollywood movies, radio, DVDs, magazines, newspapers, books, books on tapes, CDs. 5 corporations."

"There are instances we know of where the Pentagon generated video news reports and then gave them to various TV stations. This is spoon-fed propaganda coming straight from the Pentagon and being broadcast as news. Yes, there’s supposed to be a difference, but that difference is increasingly blurred. There’s a dependency relationship between corporate media journalists and state power. They depend on government for news, for information, for favors, for all kinds of perks. Thomas Friedman boasted that he used to play golf with the Secretary of State James Baker. Brit Hume said he played tennis with Colin Powell. If, on the other hand, you’re a working journalist, and let’s say, you’re assigned to the White House—and you ask challenging questions. Pretty soon, you’re not going to get called on at these press conferences. Pretty soon when you request a meeting with the Deputy Secretary of State for Middle East Affairs, your phone calls aren’t returned. In other words, you’re being blacklisted. Your editor is flummoxed because he needs stories from people in power—they depend on people in power for information.... You risk your career when you go up against power. I remember Erwin Knoll used to be the editor of the Progressive Magazine. He died a few years ago. He told me once that, when he was a reporter in Washington—he asked Lyndon Johnson a very challenging question. Johnson kind of brushed him off, and after that, Knoll got the cold shoulder from the White House."

"The electronic media is actually licensed by the federal government, by the Federal Communications Commission. So here’s another area where there’s this relationship. The airwaves belong to the people of the United States; they constitute—probably, it’s hard to measure—the most valuable physical resource in the United States. You can’t grab the airwaves. You can’t put up your finger right now and touch them. But the airways are part of the patrimony of the people of the United States. And what has the FCC done over many years? It has given away this valuable resource, and we don’t even get anything for it. They don’t even pay for the right to propagandize—we pay for the right to receive propaganda. All this despite that the Federal Communications Commission enabling legislation specifically says that the airwaves belong to the people."

"Commercials. They have moved way to the right, in terms of their programming. PBS, for instance, which I call the Petroleum Broadcasting Service. So much of its revenue comes Exxon Mobil, and Chevron-Texaco. NPR has become a mere shadow of its former self. I mean—and I don’t want to overstate it, since it was never spectacular—in its early days, it still had some cojones, it still had some sense of rebelliousness. It’s been largely tamed now."

This is why it has been such a mistake for SBS in Australia to accept advertising. It is still the best news source of all the TV stations, but will be inevitably 'tamed'.

No comments: