Conservative billionaires behind ‘liberal’ media
A letter to the Editor printed on 4/26 titled “The Liberal Media” brings up that age-old myth of media bias once again. By the way, Bill Maher is a comedian and Rush Limbaugh is a pundit, neither are journalists, which speaks volumes to the factual problems that exist in the media these days.
The father of the “liberal press” myth was none other than former Vice President Spiro T. Agnew in his “Nattering Nabobs of Negativity” speech. In that diatribe he blamed “liberal reporters who were out to get him” for making false accusations about kickback schemes, bribery, tax evasion, and other crimes for which Agnew was later indicted by a federal grand jury and forced to resign from office.
The whole concept of media bias then became the right wing excuse for any bad press they or their ideas generated.
If you shout a lie long enough and loud enough, some people will begin to think it’s true. Meanwhile back at the ranch, conservative billionaires and their political stooges, began a relentless drive to wrest control of the media and information system to stifle further social change, even though it was Nixon who gave us OSHA, the Consumer Protection Act, and the EPA. During the 12 successive years of Republican leadership from 1980 to 1992 media ownership regulations changed significantly. Prior to the Reagan administration, no one person or corporation could own more than seven AM radio stations, seven FM radio stations, and seven TV stations nationwide. In 1983, 50 media companies competed globally. By the time George H.W. Bush left office that number had dwindled to 14. A single entity could now own 20 AM, 20 FM and 20 television stations nationally.
After the Gingrich Congress passed the Telecommunications Act of 1996, the number of global media companies went down to six: AOL Time-Warner (CNN), Disney (ABC), Cable News Corporation (Fox), Viacom (CBS), General Electric (NBC), and German publishing giant Bertlesmann. A single person could now own as many broadcast stations as they wanted as long as their reach doesn’t exceed 35 percent of American households. By 1998, 1,700 independent radio stations were bought out by conglomerates. Radio giant Clear Channel Communications went from owning 40 stations to almost 1,300 stations. Clear Channel is the primary carrier of the Rush Limbaugh show. It is estimated that between 93 and 99 percent of political talk radio is conservative in slant. The ultra-liberal bias strikes again.
So who are these “ultra-liberal forces” who “have a monopoly on control over most information media and television stations”? CNN, once labeled the “communist news network” by many conservatives, was started by billionaire Ted Turner because he thought Walter Cronkite was too liberal. Disney is renown for being one of the most conservative companies on the planet. It is also renown for its child labor fueled sweatshops in China cranking out mouse ears for the happiest place on Earth. GE/NBC is a huge defense contractor that pays no taxes. CBS is owned by billionaire Sumner Redstone who fired Tom Cruise for standing up for his religious beliefs by criticizing a “South Park” episode he found offensive. Fox, owned by billionaire Rupert Murdoch most recently renown for hacking people’s phone calls, is considered by many to be the voice of the Republican Party. So it seems the ultra-liberals who are brainwashing us are all conservative billionaires.
A recent study of the influential Sunday morning political talk shows (ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX) found that during the last eight months, 70 percent of the individuals interviewed on these shows were Republicans, 86 percent were male and 92 percent were white. A similar study of the recent contraception issue Limbaugh was commenting on found that almost two-thirds of all guests on cable talks shows were men, in some cases all men, weighing in on female reproductive rights.
The original Occupy Wall Street demonstrations went on for two weeks before they made the national news. It seems that the “ultra-liberal” networks didn’t want the rest of the country to find out about the protests for fear they would spread. OWS didn’t make the headlines until the police started cracking heads. The story was not about why people were in the streets but what a motley crew they were and therefore not worthy of notice.
The real bias in media is corporate, rich, white, male, and Republican: The good ole’ boys ride again.
Joe Keeble is a retired professor of communication studies. He lives in Nevada City.
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