Ben Bagdikian, a journalism giant who first alerted the nation to the dangers of concentrated ownership of the media more than 30 years ago, died Friday. He was 96.
Daniel Ellsberg, the former military analyst who leaked the Pentagon Papers to The New York Times and The Washington Post in 1971, said, "[Bagdikian] was a wonderful person, very bold and forthright in defending the freedom of the press." Ellsberg and his colleague Anthony Russo were tried for espionage and other charges. Ellsberg faced more than 100 years in prison, Russo 35. But, ultimately, the judge threw the case out because of government misconduct, which included a break-in at Ellsberg’s psychiatrist and illegal wire-tapping.
Bagdikian at the time was a reporter for the Post. Before he picked up the papers from the cellar of a friend of Ellsberg in Boston, Bagdikian told the man who would become one of the nation’s most renowned whistleblowers that if the newspaper didn’t publish them he would resign. Anyone acquainted with Bagdikian’s career knows he would have. The Post was itching to publish the papers.
A professor emeritus and former dean at UC Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism, Bagdikian wrote six books: In the Midst of Plenty: The Poor in America; The Information Machines; The Effete Conspiracy and Other Crimes by the Press; Caged: Eight Prisoners and The Keepers; Double Vision: Reflections on My Heritage, Life, and Profession; and The Media Monopoly, first published in 1983 and now in its revised, seventh edition, The New Media Monopoly. The New York Times obituary noted that he told his students at Berkeley:
Never forget that your obligation is to the people. It is not, at heart, to those who pay you, or to your editor, or to your sources, or to your friends, or to the advancement of your career. It is to the public.
You can read more at Bagdikian’s website. Here is a 1999 Frontline interview. Here is a 10-minute excerpt from a 2012 interview with Bagdikian by Charles Lewis of the Investigative Reporting Workshop.
John Nichols at The Nation writes— Ben Bagdikian Knew That Journalism Must Serve the People—Not the Powerful:
Ben Bagdikian saw the crisis of journalism coming, and he knew that this would be a crisis for American democracy.
He knew that monopolization of media ownership would create a top-down form of communications that empowered elites, that would invite manipulation, and that would starve voters of the information they needed to be their own governors.
He also knew that the changes would dramatically undermine the role of journalism in a media system where commercial and entertainment demands replaced civic and democratic values. [...]
He lived long enough to see the decline of journalism and democracy that he had predicted play out in a politics that was as cruel and dysfunctional as he feared. Yet he never hesitated to remind us that we have the power to reform and renew not just journalism but governing systems that are supposed to draw their authority from the people.
Those of us who have built our own critiques of contemporary media upon the foundation that Bagdikian provided with his 1983 book, The Media Monopoly, have always recognized that the genius of this Pulitzer and Peabody Award-winning journalist was not in his charting of the steadily increasing control of communications by a handful of conglomerates. It was in the understanding Bagdikian provided about the danger that was inherent in allowing the dominance of the discourse by a handful of wealthy and self-interested corporations.
As Andrew Hacker observed in his review of the first edition of The Media Monopoly: “Thus the real thesis of The Media Monopoly is that the United States has become a corporate state, with its own ‘Private Ministry of Information and Culture’ (Mr. Bagdikian’s phrase) intent on erasing the capacity for discerning thought.”
FFS DU JOUR
Not long after taking the stand in the Hogan v. Gawker lawsuit, Jezebel editor Emma Carmichael faced the exact kind of sexist BS her website covers. After fielding questions from both Gawker and Hogan's legal teams about her role in the publishing of the Hogan sex tape, the jury asked her: Okay, but did you ever do it with your bosses? [...]
And if you're wondering if any of the male defendants or witnesses were subject to a similar line of questioning ... do you even have to ask?
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At Daily Kos on this date in 2011—Pharmaceutical company hikes price of preemie birth preventive:
KV Pharmaceutical is behaving as pharma does in the wake of winning approval from the government to exclusively sell Makena, a form of progesterone used in high-risk pregnancies to prevent premature birth. They're raising the price of a single injection from $10 to $1,500.
Doctors say the price hike may deter low-income women from getting the drug, leading to more premature births. And it will certainly be a huge financial burden for health insurance companies and government programs that have been paying for it.
The cost is justified to avoid the mental and physical disabilities that can come with very premature births, said KV Pharmaceutical chief executive Gregory J. Divis Jr. The cost of care for a preemie is estimated at $51,000 in the first year alone.
"Makena can help offset some of those costs," Divis told The Associated Press. "These moms deserve the opportunity to have the benefits of an FDA-approved Makena."
That sounds just a little like extortion—pay the $1,500 per injection (they're required weekly for as much as 20 weeks) or experience the "mental and physical disabilities that can come with very premature births." These moms include a higher percentage of African-American women, as well as low-income women receiving Medicaid. But those with private insurance don't have any guarantees that the treatments will continue to be covered at the new, insane rate.
And there's more. ThinkProgress reports that the company is "seeking to prevent other pharmaceutical companies from producing a cheaper version.
On today’s Kagro in the Morning show: Breitbart’s revolting! Trump ups the violence factor. Another Super Tuesday is upon us and Greg Dworkin has the polls. But what’s the delegate count story? Is #NeverTrump worth a damn? A Poli Sci-Fi horror story about GOP SCOTUS obstruction.
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