Thursday, August 27, 2009

Who Is Speaking Truth, And Who Is Buying Power?

Novelist Jeffrey Archer in his work 'The Fourth Estate' made the observation:

"In May 1789, Louis XVI summoned to Versailles a full meeting of the 'Estates General'. The First Estate consisted of three hundred clergy. The Second Estate, three hundred nobles. The Third Estate, six hundred commoners.

Some years later, after the French Revolution, Edmund Burke, looking up at the Press Gallery of the House of Commons, said, 'Yonder sits the Fourth Estate, and they are more important than them all.'"

While that may not appear to be true at first glance, a deeper look into the message, money, and power in today's media tells a different story.

Today's "Fourth Estate" consists of major corporations that have many outlets through which they are able to propagate their message. Generally speaking, major media outlets are found on television, radio, print media, and on the internet. Many corporations own a diverse selection from all of these media forms; others focus their efforts in a more specialized manner.

Smaller enterprises with less capital are found primarily on the internet, as it is a less expensive business to operate. The internet also broadcasts worldwide, so a business-savvy person with a good marketing plan can gain "clicks" from around the globe.

Of course the internet is not exclusive to the little guy; a visit to the News category on Alexa.com, considered by many to be the premier internet traffic information company, finds the first twelve listings are major corporations, with lucky number 13 being The Huffington Post.

Arianna Huffington's left-leaning website has become quite a formidable player in the modern media. Recently, Barack Obama even called on Nico Pitney, a reporter from HuffPo who, during the turmoil surrounding the recent Iranian election had a very dedicated and thorough thread running on the site which kept up with great detail and reasonable accuracy.

Ms. Huffington, the daughter of a wealthy Greek journalist and management consultant, is a bit of a political opportunist. She has changed political affiliations twice; in her younger days she was a leftist. She met and married a Republican named Michael Huffington during the Reagan era, while Conservatism was at its peak. During the late 90's she flipped back to liberalism, and has very much been in the media forefront as an anti-Bush Progressive ever since.

On the Conservative side of the aisle one will find The Drudge Report coming in at a respectable number 33.
Matt Drudge gained notoriety by breaking the Monica Lewinski scandal. His is a true rags-to-riches story, as he began his news career sending emails to friends in the early 90's. His early work was primarily celebrity gossip, which evolved into a combination of celebrity and politics much as it is today. These emails were also posted on Usenet newsgroups, until 1996 when he began his web-based site that has become known worldwide for its simple style, diverse selection of information, and flashing light whenever "Breaking News" happens.

While Drudge may not rank quite as high on Alexa, he is a force nonetheless. He took great heat during the 2008 campaign for appearing too Conservative for the taste of many, yet conversely Huffington and other Liberal websites escape criticism for their partisan slant.

Political talk radio tends to offer primarily Conservative points of view, although Liberals certainly have plenty of voices that can be heard, and like any market in The United States of America, a free market offers everyone opportunity.
NPR, while superficially moderate, trends Liberal in its perspective. Describing itself as a "privately supported, not-for-profit membership organization," NPR receives 11% of its funds from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), which is federally funded and 5% from local and state governments. Another Liberal talk radio entity, Air America, has struggled with its business model, and in 2006 filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. The company was eventually bought by Green Family Media, which is owned by two powerful New York City Liberals.

Without a doubt, Rush Limbaugh is the premier voice in Conservative talk radio, as has been the case since the late 1980's when he began broadcasting nationwide.

Limbaugh began his radio career as a music station DJ, then moved to political talk in 1984 in San Fransisco. When Ronald Reagan repealed the "Fairness Doctrine," Rush took talent and opportunity and created a situation that has brought him great success.

Limbaugh was the loudest and most critical voice of dissent during the Clinton years, and was awarded an honorary membership in the 1994 Freshman Congressional caucus.

Many, including Sean Hannity, Glenn Beck, Laura Ingraham, and more have also gained notoriety over the years. Most all of them are broadcast on Clear Channel Communications stations, and are contracted by Premier Radio Networks.

Print media is a fading concept. Newspapers and magazines are losing readership in massive numbers, which is likely a combination of the massive growth of the internet and the extreme politics of print journalists. As an example, more often than not an article written by an Associated Press journalist will display an (R) next to a name when describing illegal or scandalous events perpetrated by a Republican, but the same will almost never hold true in the case of a Democrat and the display of a (D) to symbolize party affiliation.

Television is a web of corporate interests, woven between public airwaves broadcast and subscription feeds via cable and satellite. Broadcast television news consists of the "big three" networks - ABC, NBC, and CBS. Fox Broadcast network does offer local news broadcasts and will broadcast Presidential or other major national events, but does not have a daily national news broadcast.

CNN is the largest worldwide television news entity, carrying two feeds in America, CNN and "Headline News." CNN is owned by Time Warner Cable, and the U.S. News network is a division division of The Turner Broadcasting System. CNN ranks second in ratings in The U. S. behind Fox News Channel. During prime time in the U.S., CNN offers a moderate host named Campell Brown, followed by unabashedly liberal Larry King and Anderson Cooper.

Fox News Channel is considered by liberals to be biased in favor of Republican politics. The network advertises itself as "Fair and Balanced," and during news broadcasts FNC is as accurate in its reporting as any other media outlet. To be fair, an honest assessment of FNC would show that during opinion broadcasts FNC does trend Conservative. FNC offers radio talkers Glenn Beck, a Libertarian with Conservative fiscal policy beliefs, and Sean Hannity leaning further to the right. Meanwhile Greta Van Susteren and Bill O'Reilly are more moderate, yet generally align Conservative.

ABC News is owned by The Walt Disney Company, which also, under the umbrella of The Disney-ABC Television Group, owns The Disney Channel, ABC Family, and ABC Broadcasting. ABC also has a partnership with Comcast in which it broadcasts on demand a portion of its ABC lineup. Interestingly, Comcast chairman Brian Roberts and his mother Suzanne are ardent supporters of the Democratic Party, and while ABC appears no be fair in its news reporting, the entertainment division of ABC offers very liberally influenced programming.

CBS, owned by Viacom, is almost unabashedly liberal in its news reporting. Historically it has had anchormen Walter Cronkite, an admitted liberal, who during his tenure as anchor did an excellent job of hiding his personal political interests, with the rare exception of his opining about the Vietnam War, about which he said "It is increasingly clear that the only rational way out will be to negotiate, not as victors but as an honorable people who lived up to the pledge to defend democracy."

Dan Rather, Cronkite's successor, is famous for presenting with the help of producer Mary Mapes, a completely fictitious story that depended on documents that have since been discredited about George W. Bush, just 55 days before a very tight 2004 presidential election. In addition to the clearly fictitious documents, Mapes was told before her story went on the air that Bush had volunteered to go to Vietnam - and left this information out of the story.

Rather's replacement Katie Couric has made no secret of her happiness after her erratic interview of Sarah Palin, during which she was condescending and snarky. It is widely believed by Conservatives that Couric manipulated that interview to present Palin in a bad light, while Liberals insist that Palin essentially came into the interview unprepared and the presentation simply highlighted an already unworthy Vice-Presidential Candidate.

Finally, Viacom International Chairman Sumner Redstone and MTV Viacom Chairman Tom Freston are both supporters of the Democratic party.

In addition to their public broadcast news shows, NBC broadcasts on cable under the name MSNBC. NBC Universal is owned by General Electric, and the CEO of GE is a man named Jeffrey Immelt. Since Immelt took the reins at GE in 2000, their stock has plummeted from $39.66 to $14.19, a loss of $25.47 per share, or 64% of its value. Yet somehow, after Barack Obama was elected President in 2008, Immelt was named to an Economic Advisory Board for the President. Additionally, Immelt is a Class B Director of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

NBC is decidedly Liberal in its politics. On their website, you can "Shop NBC News" and buy such novelties as Barack Obama's Audacity Of Hope, a Barack Obama bobblehead, "Yes We Did" t-shirts, and many other items Obama.

On MSNBC, host Keith Olbermann allowed guest Janine Garofalo to call Americans racists and redneck "teabaggers" because they held rallies known as "Tea Parties" in an effort to speak out against an out of control government in Washington, DC.

On election night, another MSNBC host, Chris Matthews, admitted he wanted to "Do everything I can to make this thing work.. this new Presidency work." Matthews also claimed after an Obama speech that he "Felt a thrill going up my leg" and called that statement "An objective assessment."

In 2008, near the end of the Presidency of George W. Bush, PBS host Bill Moyers pointedly said:

“Democracy with­out hon­est infor­ma­tion cre­ates the illu­sion of pop­u­lar con­sent while enhanc­ing the power of the state and the priv­i­leged inter­ests pro­tected by it.

Democracy with­out account­abil­ity cre­ates the illu­sion of pop­u­lar con­trol while offer­ing ordi­nary Americans cheap tick­ets to the bal­cony, too far away to see that the pub­lic stage is just a real­ity TV set.

Nothing more char­ac­ter­izes cor­po­rate media today – main­stream and par­ti­san – than dis­dain towards the frag­ile nature of mod­ern life and indif­fer­ence toward the com­plex social debate required of a free and self-​​governing people.

This leaves you with a heavy bur­den – it’s up to you to fight for the free­dom that makes all other free­doms possible.”

In my opinion, Given the arrogance of the majority of The Fourth Estate today, the lack of brokers of honest information certainly may be creating the illusion of popular consent for today's powerful and politically elite.

Perhaps it has become the media who are enhancing the power of the state and the privileged interests protected by it - for it is becoming more apparent every day that the privileged are creating a Democracy without accountability.


It is time for Americans to trade up and get out of those cheap seats in the balcony.

This is reality, not a TV set, and we must always remember that in order to supress and defeat the dis­dain shown towards the frag­ile nature of mod­ern life and indif­fer­ence toward the com­plex social debate - a free and self-​​governing people are required to fight for the free­dom that makes all other free­doms possible.

God Bless The United States of America.

13 comments:

M-Cat said...

Solomon,
Found you through your rational comments and questions on a leftists blog.

Will be back to keep up to date.

Thanks for your voice

One Ticked Chick said...

Newspapers, magazines and broadcasting outlets aren't about the "news," they're about business, and earning a profit. I just ignore the major liberal news outlets as do most people, which is why viewership & readership are down and ad revenues dwindling.

What really galls me is PBS, since we pay a share of the operating budget. It's time Congress looked at their decidedly slanted programming and demand editorial balance if they're to continue to receive taxpayer subsidies.

tammy said...

It seriously drives me crazy. I couldn't believe it when I found out NBC is selling BO souveniers. What's next, a theme park?

I love what Bill Moyers said.

Great post. I've been sending my friends here (Pedaling and M-Cat).

Amusing Bunni said...

Hi Solomon: This is a great post and really give a wonderful comprehensive history of the media.

Thank God for the internet and the right thinking websites, such as Drudge. I've been going there for Years, more so now with the current crap going on.
Glenn Beck is also a wonderful site to stop by...Especially if one doesn't have cable.
I sure hope obama and his czars don't decimate the freedom of the internet, like they are doing with all our other freedoms! Take care.

Soloman said...

Hi M-Cat.. That girl is funny.. Sue, I believe? She's so angry and illogical.

See ya next time. Thanks for stopping by!

Soloman said...

Ticked Chick.. it's funny, because newspapers and public airwaves broadcast news shows should be all about the news and not about the profit. I'll give mags the benefit, they're different, except when your name is 'Newsweek' you should then be a news mag, not a hero worship gossip rag.

And PBS.. yeah, I agree to a point. In a different era it might have made sense, today it's just an extra expense. If Arianna Huffington can spew her venom in a capitalist way, NPR can make it on its own too...

Soloman said...

Tammy... the only reason I love what Bill Moyers said is because I was able to turn it around just one year later and show the hypocrisy of the lefties. You'd never hear something like that coming from him about the complicity of the media with regards to all things Obama.

I'm thinking Fox should... right now.. start selling Sarah Palin bobbleheads, and make a HUGE campaign about it. The lefties would freak in hypocrisy!!

Thanks for the props and telling your friends! I really enjoy seeing new faces, and I like finding new blogs to read too!

Soloman said...

Hey Bunni :) Thanks.. I spent a LONG time on this one.. I actually was working on it Wednesday night and my PC froze, I had so many tabs open researching connections and campaign donations I killed it. So last night was a second go-around. Didn't turn out quite as it was conceived, but I'm happy nonetheless.

Just as much as the sites on the right, I spend time on some lefty sites, I like a challenging debate, and once in a while I actually find one there. I also like to read the article and then post corrections in the comments section. Sometimes I go back and see they've done changes or updates. Kinda cool.

There's a lot of Glenn Beck audio and video on YouTube too, if you're looking specifically for clips of his shows.

Take care...

DC said...

Great work, Soloman. I appreciate your thoughtfulness. It comes through. Keep up the good fight.

Soloman said...

Thanks, DC.

I'm proud to be part of the team.. as I've heard someone else call it, the "Common Sense Party."

Take care...

Pedaling said...

hi, soloman.

your last post on the urine testing makes perfect sense to me-
it's a no brainer-

oh, and on another note:
thanks for trying to reason with the most unreasonable blogger and her gang.
that bully has been harassing me on my blog for a couple years now...i finally quit posting her comments because they were just full of vile name calling of me and others who visit my site-but mostly of me- so now she attacks me on her own site...whatever- it's actually rather amusing i get under her skin like i do.
(i don't pay any attention to her- but get word from someone or someone(s) whenever i make her honorable mention list. :)

Soloman said...

Hey Pedaling.. glad to stand a line of defense for "The Common Sense Party." I didn't even know it was you she quoted, Tammy just mentioned I should go check out her latest, I did.. you know the rest.

It's kind of amusing to me... I spend a fair amount of time commenting on Huffington Post, so I'm used to them and their rudeness.

Like I said in my last comment over there, debate with reason and fact, I'm all in. Mock and ridicule, show your true self and that you have no argument.

Maybe her and her friends need to pee in the cup... lol...

and I wish you were right, but if it were a no-brainer wouldn't it already be law?

Nevermind, scratch that...

Take care :)

Pedaling said...

well, she didn't actually "QUOTE" me.....

i will be reading and learning from you & your posts and even more so from your comments.

thanks.