Corporate Media Uphold Tyranny

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[Speaking Truth To Power]

Without a public enlightened by information, democracy can never flourish; ironically, America’s “democracy” is now being sabotaged by the very institution entrusted with nurturing it--the media.

Our so-called “Fourth Estate,” the press, continually sell-out the American public. In his 1841 book “On Heroes and Hero Worship” Thomas Carlyle, referring to Irish political theorist Edmond Burke, wrote: “Burke said there were three estates in Parliament; but, in the Reporters’ Gallery yonder, there sat a Fourth Estate more important far than they all…Whoever can speak, speaking now to the whole nation, becomes a power, a branch of government, with inalienable weight in law-making…
The requisite thing is, that they have a tongue that others will listen to; this and nothing more is requisite.”

Carlyle’s writings echoed Burke’s words articulating the press’ power which lies not only in its ability to compile facts and figures, but in its awesome influence in shaping and molding public opinion by the art of persuasion. However, America’s media is using persuasion as a perversion and misinforming the public to disastrous consequences.

Iraq is one example. Sure, the Bush White House lied to the American people, with the acquiescence of leaders like Hillary “I misspoke” Clinton. But this fraudulent episode was sold by media darlings like Tim Russert, Bill O’Reilly and Judith Miller; the latter functioned as a White House stenographer. Where was the independent reportage by the media?

This past week the nation commemorated the fifth year of this war-for-profit scheme. Where was the in-depth analysis of this criminal undertaking? We just reached the supposed 4,000 threshold of American soldiers killed in Iraq. In fact, there is evidence that the figure is higher, since apparently the government doesn’t count those soldiers who die in hospitals and the like after they have been rescued from the war zone.

Given all this, why won’t media report the death toll of the Iraqi people who we are supposedly “liberating?” I guess dead Iraqi boys and girls don’t compare to fatalities involving blond-hair, blue-eyed Americans. Is this how America ushers “democracy” and “freedom” to the rest of the world?

Five years after the launch of this criminal war in Iraq, media pundits ask themselves how they could have known the war would turn out this way. Didn’t Vietnam teach them anything? Do we recall what happened when true patriots of America demonstrated against this immoral war before it started? Americans of conscience were labeled as the “lunatic fringe.” The so-called “mainstream” media, apologists for corporate hegemony, refused to cover the protests, much less allow any anti-war activist to air their opposition.

Yet, perversely, these elitist setters of the national agenda are referred to as the “free press.” Free to keep the masses clueless and docile.

The reality is that corporate American media is just as responsible for the Iraq war, as the Bush White House or power-hungry politicians like Hillary Clinton, who voted for the war at a time when anyone opposing it would have been denounced as a traitor. That’s not leadership--that’s pandering, one of her trademarks.

Media packaged the propaganda lies to persuade Americans to back the war. That’s the reason why most Americans believed Saddam Hussein was responsible for 9/11. Corporate media are now trying to cover-up their treasonous complicity.

This is a tyranny that’s extremely scary; when the nation’s fate is left to the tender mercies of a complicit media and a corrupt regime presided over by an individual who could not run a baseball team in Texas, let alone a country.

What are the media’s priorities, as the nation faces: this crippling war; a mortgage meltdown costing millions of Americans their homes; collapse of a major investment bank raising fears of a run on commercial banks; and, record reported job losses of 80,000 last month alone.

Are these the pressing issues that editors and producers at the major media companies are assigning their reporters to deal with? Hardly--the media preferred, for days on end, and for weeks on end, to focus coverage on Revered Jeremiah Wright, Senator Barack Obama’s now retired pastor.

Many White—and “Black”—pundits sanctimoniously vilified Pastor Wright, without bothering to debate the white racism at the heart of Wright’s anger and denunciations. The journalistic sacrilege at work here is the absence of any historical analysis regarding America’s continued second-class treatment of many of its Black citizens.

Let’s briefly examine one area in which corporate media --the most irresponsible type of media, yet the most influential due to their wide circulation, or large viewership or listening audience--where media have been negligent.

Media outlets report that one million of the two million inmates in this country are Black, although Black people comprise about 13% of the population. However, media will bifurcate that reality from the “separate and unequal” schools—as articulated in the 1954 Brown v Board of Education ruling—in the inner cities, or, from the epidemic rates of Black unemployment; which is, officially, twice that of whites, and in some urban areas, as high as 50% in certain age ranges. Media pretend that the institutional racism that underlies these statistical realities is irrelevant to the crime rate in Black neighborhoods.

There’s also a fanciful fiction that needs to be debunked; the term “liberal” media. What “liberal” media in an industry dominated by Rush Limbaugh, Bill O’Reilly and Lou Dobbs?

Why did “free press” at MSNBC cancel Phil Donohue’s show before the precipitation of the Iraq War? According to an internal NBC memo the “gatekeepers” felt that Donahue would be a “difficult face for NBC in a time of war.” He was fired to silence any anti-war sentiment.

Corporate media also self-censor by selecting and anointing preferred “spokesperson;” the same talking heads that are constantly paraded to offer their standard opinion on television shows, radio, and in print media.

Major newspapers like The New York Times refuse to publish critical unfettered views offered by writers such as Noam Chomsky, even though he is at the renowned MIT and is one of the leading intellectual authorities in the world.

Why aren’t historians and intellectuals like Howard Zinn, Gore Vidal, Cornel West, as well as other grassroots stalwarts, invited to articulate their views on the news?

America’s corporate media are not free at all: They are the enemy of democracy.

Columnist Benjamin is a member of The Black Star News's Editorial Board

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