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I would like to call for a congressional investigation into the behavior of the major media corporations in the recent debate of the over-haul of the nation's health care system.  The focus of this investigation should be the inherent massive conflict of interest at the heart of this debate and their involvement in it, an involvement that was never revealed to their audiences.

As most of you know, over the course of the last couple of decades there has been a tremendous amount of media consolidation in this country.  Six to eight major corporations control a huge fraction of the discourse now, giving top management of these organization the ability to shape the content of much of what the average American views and reads on a daily basis.  

Health Care is a large and growing fraction of the economy.  Going forward, it is one of the few projected growth industries.  Media corporations feed on advertising.  The Health Care industry, including Insurance Pharma etc. spends huge sums on TV and print advertising.

Any effective Health Care reform would squeeze a large fraction of the advertising dollars out of the system.  This would result in a loss of significant revenue for the corporations that own the major news organizations.  This creates a conflict of interest in the debate that was never revealed to the readers listeners or viewers of these entities.  Organizations that presented themselves as impartial players when they stood to lose untold billions of dollars.

It is undeniable that there is no firewall anymore between corporate ownership and the news decision making in these outfits.

Recently Wolf Blitzer admitted in conversation with Rich Sanchez on air that they had polling data for months showing that a majority of the public favored HCR when you included those who favored the bill plus those who favored an even more liberal approach, that it was only about 40% who were opposed to the government being involved in Health Care under any circumstances.  Rick was shocked but they had the data.  Not telling their viewers this was a corporate decision.  Of course Blitzer didn't admit that.  But they went with the visuals of the tea party.  That is their story.  Bullshit.  They went with the advertising revenue.  They went with corporate.  All of these corporate organizations have been putting their thumbs on the scales during this process because they were not objective observers, they were major stakeholders.  Yet they never bothered to tell anyone.

Originally posted to SW on Wed Mar 24, 2010 at 08:28 PM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

    •  Damn right (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      SW

      we need to start reframing what Media IS, and what it IS NOT.

      It is no longer "free", nor is it "informative" or "for the people".

      Our "mass media"--all of it--is a private, for-profit enterprise, which by its very definition is only going to serve the best interests of its shareholders.

      This must change.

      IMO, just as we do not tolerate yelling "fire" in crowded movie theaters, and just as we do not tolerate joking about bombing aircraft when we're waiting to board a commercial airliner, we need to cease completely to tolerate clear calls to attack other people, when those calls come over broadcast systems designed to reach millions of people at once. .

      Either that, or revisit--with an unbiased judiciary--Akre/Wilson vs. New World Communications. Because maybe when it's no longer okay for the corporate management of these slop artists to fire reporters who won't lie or distort their reporting, the bullshit lies and slop will quit spewing from The Media.

      Necessity is the mother of revolution...

      by o the umanity on Wed Mar 24, 2010 at 10:25:24 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Rupert Murdoch (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    sceptical observer

    is American, now there's a man with an opinion and a lot of friends and a lot of influence, unelected of course.

    If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion. Dalai Lama

    by ohcanada on Wed Mar 24, 2010 at 08:39:26 PM PDT

  •  So is that why 'suddenly' polls are reversing (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    SW, MKSinSA, soms, amk for obama

    in favor of Health care reform, now that it is a fait accompli?

    I know you're talking about all media even though your example is from cable, but in general despite the consolidation, media is getting more fractured and its influence, and viewership, is declining, not increasing.

    •  The major networks are (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      blueoasis

      GE, Disney and Viacom

    •  The traditional networks are declining (0+ / 0-)

      (they too are corporate owned), but FOX News [sic] has a terrifyingly large audience.

      If you can find money to kill people, you can find money to help people. --Tony Benn

      by rhetoricus on Wed Mar 24, 2010 at 09:01:11 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  All media relies on advertising (0+ / 0-)

        all media profits by the status quo in health care because all health care reform will result in less health care advertising.

        •  I'd like to see the case made for this (0+ / 0-)

          Any effective Health Care reform would squeeze a large fraction of the advertising dollars out of the system.

          beyond stating it as fact

          •  It is in the bill (0+ / 0-)

            Insurance companies have to reduce the fraction of your premiums that go to all costs other than care.  That includes advertising.  That is just for starters.  The same thing goes ultimately for other cost savings but that is the most explicit one that is right there in writing in the bill.

          •  Effective health care would mean (0+ / 0-)

            a single-payer, or a public option. The first obviates insurance companies having a large base, if they exist at all; the 2nd cuts their income and that means advertising and/or bonuses would be impacted, at the least.

            Until we break the corporate virtual monopoly on what we hear and see, we keep losing, don't matter what we do.

            by Jim P on Wed Mar 24, 2010 at 10:08:46 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  advertising is just bonus for the talk radio mon (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          NoMoreLies

          that has dominated US media messaging and framing the last 20 years.

          limbaugh and hannity make 1/2BIL for selling trillion dollar wars and obstructing HCR and climate action, getting rid of acorn van jones gore and kerry, while the pundits and media scholars who never heard any of the coordinated uncontested repetition until teh results show up in the MSM blame it on a shift to the center right.  

          the radio blowhards are greatly underpaid.

          US social and political reality is largely determined by 1000 radio stations blasting coordinated UNCONTESTED repetition all day long.

          by certainot on Wed Mar 24, 2010 at 09:15:04 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  The 3rd Court of Appeals just lifted a temporary (9+ / 0-)

    ban on companies owning multiple media platforms in any given market. Buckle your seatbeat, we're in for a bumpy ride.

    Used to be that the network news department was a "loss leader", and not expected to make a profit, for fear that they would lose their journalistic edge. Those days are loooong gone.

  •  It's my understanding that cable newscasts (4+ / 0-)

    are exempt because they're not required have a public broadcasting license.

    I think Faux even argued a lawsuit in Tampa stating that they're an entertainment channel, therefore can't be held to any journalistic standard.

    "The human eye is a wonderful device. With a little effort, it can fail to see even the most glaring injustice." Richard K. Morgan

    by sceptical observer on Wed Mar 24, 2010 at 08:57:25 PM PDT

    •  Exempt from what? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      sceptical observer
      •  Exempt from oversight, on the grounds (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        rhetoricus

        that they have any journalistic responsibility to report the truth. Any more than coal companies have for calling their industry green.

        "The human eye is a wonderful device. With a little effort, it can fail to see even the most glaring injustice." Richard K. Morgan

        by sceptical observer on Wed Mar 24, 2010 at 09:01:45 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  What oversight? (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          sceptical observer

          The fcc?  All they give a shit about are tits.

          •  I think (0+ / 0-)

            he's talking about the case I noted upthread, Akre/Wilson vs New World Communications, which started in Sarasota, FL.

            That was over the Monsanto bovine growth hormone story. which the reporters Akre/Wilson refused to make "requested management changes" to it, which 3 juries agreed changed the whole slant, and made Monsanto look "not as bad" as they would have, once all the facts were presented.

            The 3 juries had to decide if the local FOX affiliate management could fire the reporters for not altering the story.

            ALL THREE ruled in favor of the reporters' reinstatement and back pay. The fourth--which I believe was the 11th Circuit (one step away from the SC)--reversed it.

            The end result? Reporters can be fired if they won't report what management says they have to.

            You tell me--does this not give The News the right to lie? If you're a reporter, and management says you have to go on camera and say the sky is green? Guess what? If you don't, there's the door, sweetie--there are others waiting to take your place, and they do not care what color the sky is, as long as they get paid.

            Necessity is the mother of revolution...

            by o the umanity on Thu Mar 25, 2010 at 05:05:25 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

      •  From the legal obligation to (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        sceptical observer, eXtina

        some minimum standard of accuracy.

        If you can find money to kill people, you can find money to help people. --Tony Benn

        by rhetoricus on Wed Mar 24, 2010 at 09:02:12 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  The Tampa lawsuit involved broadcast ... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      sceptical observer

      ... the local Fox Network affiliate (broadcast), and not Fox News (cable). That lawsuit was about wrongful termination, not about journalistic standards in news content.

      As to "journalistic standards," there are no legal standards for truth or accuracy in journalism except for libel, as such standards would violate the First Amendment. Do you really want government prosecuting journalists for "not telling the truth" on political issues? Consider how that might have played out under the Bush administration.

  •  Well said n/t (0+ / 0-)

    Harry Reid's lack of backbone is an act, his obstructionism isn't.

    by stevej on Wed Mar 24, 2010 at 09:03:48 PM PDT

  •  thing is (0+ / 0-)

    there is stilll some competition  in the TV and print and plenty n the internet.

    most of the disaster we're in is the result of the left ignoring the 1000 radio stations that are used to do the heavy lifting of coordinated uncontested repetition- to lay out a smorgasbord of prechewed talking points and framing the rest of the corporate media ownership is all too happy to rechew.

    but it needs the uncontested radio to start the lies and distortions and  make them acceptable - democracy has always had problems with money in media and politics- that's what it was designed to fix- the difference was reagan killing the Fairness Doctrine, letting loose the talk radio monopoly, and it being completely ignored by the those it attacks 24/7. the perfect weapon.

    it makes all progressive efforts much harder, has a huge part in determining the acceptability of supremes, and make meaningful media reform as fun as HCR.

    but all the left has to do is recognize the fact and picket and boycott the local radio stations that blast all those blue areas with racist corporatist royalist global warming denial blowhards on all day.

    US social and political reality is largely determined by 1000 radio stations blasting coordinated UNCONTESTED repetition all day long.

    by certainot on Wed Mar 24, 2010 at 09:09:01 PM PDT

    •  Yes but those 1000 radio stations (0+ / 0-)

      are actually in rather small groups of networks at the top pushing a corporate friendly objective.

      •  50 mil audience, some captive, with no (0+ / 0-)

        correction or competition of the lobbyist talking points and framing that shows up on their desks every morning.

        those small groups of networks are irrelevant if they're on the same page- with limbaugh on 600 stations and hannity on 400 and then all the wannabes getting the same talking points.

        US social and political reality is largely determined by 1000 radio stations blasting coordinated UNCONTESTED repetition all day long.

        by certainot on Wed Mar 24, 2010 at 09:19:54 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Yes, that is another phase of the operation (0+ / 0-)

          I'm not saying that this is the only phenomena at work.  But the cable news nets, who presented themselves as neutral were not.  That is my point.  These other jokers never made any pretense of being neutral.

          •  The point is the deception (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Gooserock, NoMoreLies

            The networks both the cable and the majors pretended to be disinterested neutral observers when they were really stakeholders.  They didn't inform their viewer about the conflict of interest and whether or not their coverage was being slanted under pressure from their corporate leadership perhaps without the knowledge of the professional staff simply through editing decisions made about the use of material that was gathered in good faith.

            •  They Are Constitutionally Protected to Do This (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              SW, NoMoreLies

              There exists no role of informing the electorate, nor of hosting civic discourse, in the American system. It's one giant wild-assed ASS-sumption that society would always spontaneously provide those services if government were restrained from interfering.

              And that one of the most colossal system design errors in human history.

              We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

              by Gooserock on Wed Mar 24, 2010 at 09:35:44 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

            •  i agree (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              SW

              it needs investigation, exposure, and TV especially offers a clear record for such an investigation.

              US social and political reality is largely determined by 1000 radio stations blasting coordinated UNCONTESTED repetition all day long.

              by certainot on Wed Mar 24, 2010 at 09:39:15 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

  •  You're Sunk. Press Freedom is a Corporate Right (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    NoMoreLies, blueoasis, Wom Bat, nandssmith

    created by technological spearchuckers, to the legal perspective of the world whose governors they rule.

    It's probably the single greatest threat to humanity, considering that planet habitability and every single other issue facing the voters of the democratic superpower turns on the global corporate world's Constitutional protections from the people to promote their agenda and ignore and fight all others.

    The original concept of the amendment was brilliant in its time. In our time it's potentially fatal to the whole species. Somehow, its brilliance has to be brought into our 21st century high-tech lifeboat world in a way that doesn't capsize our overwhelmed boat-of-state in blind service to principle.

    I don't have an answer, but know an open seacock when I see one.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Wed Mar 24, 2010 at 09:33:58 PM PDT

    •  But we do have the power of boycott (0+ / 0-)

      and we've boycotted Beck's sponsors so we can boycott the rest of them as well.

      We can fight fire with fire and hit them where it hurts.

      We can turn them off in our homes and make them irrelevant, that's what we can do and it will have tremendous impact when we do.

      "If by a Liberal, they mean someone who cares about the welfare of the people, then I am proud to say I'm a Liberal". Ted Kennedy

      by caduceus4 on Thu Mar 25, 2010 at 05:09:50 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Yes but public hearings would (0+ / 0-)

      at least expose the duplicity.  The fact that these people were posing as disinterested parties as fair arbiters when they actually were advocates of a particular position.

      You are missing my point if you buy into the notion that they were just another interest group.  The point is that with the exception of Fox, the other networks tried to present an image of being impartial.  That image was a lie.  They were not impartial and the public needs to know that.

  •  Why would any entity have to "conspire" with (0+ / 0-)

    another entity to oppose the proposed HCR?

    If a conspiracy is a coalition planning to break the law, what law were your conspirators planning to break?

    •  Beind paid to tell half truths is nothing new (0+ / 0-)

      where we don't expect it is our legitimate "news media".

      We know that Fox is NOT a news organization and is now an appendage of the GOP.  It's their platform to amp up violence in America.

      We know that most of the major news organizations are owned by Republicans and, as such, can do anything they wish with their presentation of the information.

      Polling has become manipulated by them as we're seeing right now.  

      There wasn't ONE single news organization who presented the polling on this healthcare bill honestly.  They gave the GOP talking points but we all knew that the inclusion of the PO had everything to do with these numbers....as did "the bill not going far enough".

      MSM will have more than egg on it's face once this information is made public.  They may have lawsuits on their hands as well.

      You may not be able to sue the media for what they say but you absolutely CAN sue them for not telling the people the facts.

      "If by a Liberal, they mean someone who cares about the welfare of the people, then I am proud to say I'm a Liberal". Ted Kennedy

      by caduceus4 on Thu Mar 25, 2010 at 05:14:58 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I don't believe that there would need to be a law (0+ / 0-)

      violated, in order for the abuses to cause a national scandal when exposed in Congressional hearing.  A scandal that would result in a call for some sort of re-regulation of the media or a least a break up of the consolodation that we have seen.  An analogy might be the game show scandals of the fifties.

  •  Polling was quashed and incomplete intentionally (0+ / 0-)

    to mislead the public just like they did in the run up to the Iraq War.

    It's time to hold the media accountable for their half-truths (lies), errors of omission and sue their sorry butts off for a campaign of "misinformation and disinformation".

    It's time to hold them all accountable for the fraud they perpetuate.

    "If by a Liberal, they mean someone who cares about the welfare of the people, then I am proud to say I'm a Liberal". Ted Kennedy

    by caduceus4 on Thu Mar 25, 2010 at 05:08:33 AM PDT

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