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A week ago, I published a report on 1,200 photos of U.S. torture that I have examined but the public at large has not seen.  I talked about the photos on a few progressive radio shows.  I received calls from some advocacy groups that have been trying for years to get hold of these photos.  But I received not one single inquiry from the corporate media.  Even most good blogs ignored this story despite a handful of prominent blogs promoting it.  This started me thinking and fantasizing: what would the world look like if we had major media outlets that were worth more than a warm bucket of spit?

Imagine if the media monopolies were busted, a diversity of private outlets were free to compete, and public media were developed, including free substantive air time for election campaigns.  Imagine media outlets with democratic accountability.  Imagine media outlets that judged a story important if the majority of the public said so, and not if those in power said so.

The majority of the public favors single-payer healthcare.  Corporate media outlets are crammed with endless, often pointless, stories about healthcare that never mention single-payer.  On Friday a House committee passed an amendment to allow states to create single-payer healthcare systems, and have you heard about that from a single corporate media outlet?  Another amendment now up for a vote would create single-payer at the national level.  Heard that one mentioned?  Our existing media outlets (whose lead blogs follow more than bloggers admit to themselves) decide what's important based on the preferences of a small number of powerful people.  And the fact that these preferences almost always differ wildly from majority opinion does not lead to any rethinking of the acceptability of this approach in a democratic republic.

The same treatment is accorded other people around the world by the U.S. media.  Over in Iraq (remember that place?) an important deadline is approaching in the treaty that Bush and Maliki made, and which Bush misleadingly called a status of forces agreement in order to not call it a treaty.  The U.S. Senate never consented to this treaty, was never asked to, and never demanded the right.  But the Iraqi Parliament, which represented a public whose media -- even in the midst of a living hell -- better informed it of the treaty's terms than ours did, approved the treaty.  But the parliament approved the treaty only on the condition that the Iraqi people be able to vote it up or down in a vote to be held no later than July 2009.  Heard anything about this lately?  Check your calendar, and then check your newspaper.  What gives?  If you could bring slaughtered native Americans back to life they could tell you the violations of their treaties were not heavily covered in the white man's press.  The June deadline to withdraw from Iraqi cities was met in part by redrawing boundaries.  Can you imagine the outrage if a foreign force did such a thing while occupying the United States?  Some actions are deemed outrageous and others unworthy of extensive discussion.  Some articles are written with that obnoxious air of "objectivity" while other articles are not written.

A democratic communications system that worked for the people rather than those in power, advertisers, and corporate partners would identify politicians by party and state but also by amount of money accepted from the corporations relevant to the issue under consideration.  All the endless articles and chatter about healthcare would look different with the dollar figures inserted.  A democratic media outlet would forego fluff and filler to engage in useful functions such as tracking whether elected officials fulfill their campaign promises, something I've done here and the St Petersburg Times has done here.

Democratic (small d) media would be very different from Democratic or Republican or Bipartisan media.  It would treat laws as mandatory, not subject to the whims of those in power.  It would treat enforcement of laws against those in power as more important than their enforcement against everyone else.  Such media would not cover resistance to a war without noting that the war was (if it was) illegal.  Such media would not cover the prosecution of low-level soldiers for crimes they were ordered to commit, without investigating their superiors and asking why they had not been prosecuted.  Such media would not quote nonsensical statements by those in power about possibly investigating whether crimes had been committed without noting (when it existed) the publicly available evidence that in fact crimes had almost certainly been committed.  And if a former vice president appeared on a democratic show and brazenly confessed to felonies, the producers would invite the attorney general to view the tape on the air and respond to it.

Originally posted to David Swanson on Tue Jul 21, 2009 at 09:26 AM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  If you want better media (3+ / 0-)

    support better media

    There are some good magazines out there.

    Probably some good TV, too, but I don't watch TV

  •  hey swanny, hasn't david gregory invited you (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    forgore

    to come on meet the press so you can frame your argument? no? i'm stunned!

    "Michele Bachmann is like the demi glace of wingnuttia." - Chris Hayes, Countdown, 2/18/09

    by rasbobbo on Tue Jul 21, 2009 at 09:40:34 AM PDT

  •  Dr. Nancy a shill (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    forgore

    I just watched "Dr. Nancy" and am appalled by her shilling for the corporate interests.

    She covered the healthcare fight advocating for "her" preference for the need to ration health care. I have seen a great lack of honest "journalism" regarding the healthcare reform movement. She is the icing on the cake - and her rich white woman views are apparent. Her good looks and MD credentials masquerading as journalism is offensive.  

    I can't get out of my head the news? medical information? that I just experienced.

    I searched for her on "muckety" without results but did find a Howard Kurtz article in WaPo June 29th. I suspect there is more to her story.

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/...

    In 1999, Snyderman and her husband, an investment banker, violated insider-trading rules by selling their stock soon after an initial public offering for the Web site founded by former surgeon general C. Everett Koop. Snyderman, a director of the site who had to return a $53,000 profit, says her broker mistakenly sold the stock instead of transferring it to another account, as she had asked. "It looked terrible," she recalls. "It was tough seeing that splashed on 17 front pages. It was embarrassing."

    ABC sent her around the world, and the constant travel took its toll: Snyderman, after performing cancer surgery for 20 years, felt she wasn't being fair to her patients. Feeling she had hit a ceiling at the network, where Diane Sawyer had gotten the "GMA" host's job she coveted, Snyderman joined Johnson & Johnson for five years, during which she gave up her surgery practice. But she grew bored by the plodding pace of corporate life.....

    This "health" spot preceded by a racist comment.
    She had two black men as guests discussing the arrest of the prominent black Harvard professor.  She said (to paraphrase) - "The woman who called the police did the right thing by calling the police when she saw a BLACK man attempting to enter a house...." Neither man called her on it.

    I do agree with you - but my experience is that given even neutral public media outlets it is hard to reach the masses. FOX is their choice - and the other networks become worse by the minute.  But on a positive note though I endured an hour in a hospital waiting room for a simple blood test yesterday - I watched HGTV. Certainly a step in the right direction for public venues.

    If pro and con are opposites, wouldn't the opposite of progress be congress? Unknown

    by leighkidd on Tue Jul 21, 2009 at 10:29:12 AM PDT

  •  the coverage of Iran and Honduras (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    forgore, FrankCornish

    on one hand you have a leader who is not friendly to US interests and media goes 24-7 on Iran's election troubles.
    on the other hand you have a coup and a coup leader that is friendly to US interests, the media does a cold 3 minute coverage and then goes for 4 hours straight of Michael Jackson and Sarah Palin.

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