The Media in Bush's America

March 2003

There are many problems with mainstream mass media:

1. Propaganda Machine. The big U.S. media generally expound and propagandize Washington's "party line." In fact, the major sources often serve as loyal stenographers for the White House. This is true with regard to both domestic and foreign policy issues, and blatantly obvious in wartime. Mass media owners and managers generally share the background, worldview and income bracket of political elites. "News" is defined chiefly as the actions and statements of people in power.
BBC Chief Attacks U.S. Media War Coverage by Merissa Marr (Apr 24, 2003)
Pentagon's Recipe For Propaganda by Carol Brightman, AlterNet
In an Iraq War, Washington is Likely to Once Again Muzzle the News Media by Robert Wiener, Los Angeles Times
Target Iraq - What The News Media Didn't Tell You by Norman Solomon and Reese Erlich (book review)

2. Narrow Range of Discussion. The spectrum of debate usually falls in the relatively narrow range between the leadership of the Democratic and Republican parties.The right edge of discussion is usually represented by a committed supporter of right-wing causes, someone who calls for significantly changing the status quo in a conservative direction. The left edge, by contrast, is often represented by an establishment-oriented centrist who supports the status quo; very rarely is a bonafide critic of corporate power allowed to take part in mass media debates.

3. Concentration of Corporate Ownership. Not only are most major media owned by corporations, these companies are becoming larger and fewer in number as the biggest ones absorb their rivals. This concentration of ownership tends to reduce the diversity of media voices and puts great power in the hands of a few companies.
The Global Media Giants by Robert W. McChesney
Media Concentration is a Totalitarian Tool by Molly Ivins
How war coverage helped put Murdoch on a media roll in Bush's America by Andrew Gumbel (Apr 16, 2003)
New Rules Give Big Media Chance to Get Even Bigger by David Kirkpatrick , New York Times (June 2, 2003)
FCC Votes to Ease Media Ownership Rules by David Ho, AP (June 2, 2003)

4. Public Ignorance: a sizable fraction of the public doesn't recognize the media's propaganda role.
Axis of Ignorance

5. And the corollary of #4: Infotainment: Media serve an entertainment function, as a way of distracting attention from real news. There's a focus on sensational news.
How Soft Journalism Undermines the Credibility of Major Media Organizations, Drives Away Their Core Audiences, and Hurts Democracy

6. Why all this is bad news: because an unfettered, public debate is an essential component of a democratic society.

Bartcop "Forcing the right to admit they're wrong." alternative headlines
Decoding Some Top Buzzwords by Norman Solomon, ZNet
FAIR Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting
Independent Media Center collective of independent media organizations
Media Whores Online "The site that set out to bring the media to their knees, but found they were already there."
Online Journal "Building a new media of, by and for the people."
Take Back the Media "American media. Bought, paid for, and working against the public interest."
The Daily Howler daily feature article
Target Iraq What The News Media Didn't Tell You" by Norman Solomon and Reese Erlich (book review)
ZNet Media Watch watching mainstream media

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