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America’s Corporate State Media

May 3, 2012 by  

America’s Corporate State Media
LYNN GOLDSMITH/REX FEATURES
American journalist Hunter Thompson coined the term “gonzo journalism,” a form that Americans may need more than ever.

It can be said accurately that the Internet and other technologies have forever altered the way media works. Governments, most notably those that claim strong protections for individuals’ right to speech and information, recognize the control they have lost due to the ability of average citizens to act in some capacity as journalists to provide information about events that may have otherwise gone unreported to the masses. Those governments are working feverishly to regain control of all mass information.

Most people carry cellphones now that double as quality recording devices and have the ability to upload content to the forever-moving current of online information. This has led to many things: Politicians are caught in unpolished moments; dignitaries are asked questions that may not have been asked by reporters; the state’s abuses, however small, are reported; and revolutionary ideas are more easily traded from citizen to citizen.

When American journalist and writer Hunter S. Thompson first coined the phrase “gonzo journalism” — becoming part of the story while still disseminating the who, what, when, where, why and how information important to all news — in 1970, he likely never could have fathomed the idea that one day the Internet and various other technologies would create the number of individuals who are involved in the practice today. But, to the dismay of statists and control freaks throughout the world, the Internet has become a breeding ground for just the type of writing and reporting Thompson espoused; it is now sparking revolutions and dissidence on a larger scale than ever before.

Citizens of the United States traditionally believe that theirs is the freest market for news and information in the world because of the rights to free speech and free press outlined by the 1st Amendment to the Constitution. The press, however, has been manipulated since its beginnings in the United States.

The earliest forms of American mass media came in the form of pamphlets and news sheets, distributed during the Colonial period, that were filled with stale news items from across the sea in Europe. Later, Benjamin Franklin was instrumental in helping to establish more modern and localized newspapers in the United States. These newspapers were often filled with the political opinions and ideas of whoever owned them, a trend that — despite the myth of objective journalism — has continued throughout American history.

Today, the news is, at best, entertainment and, at worst, pure mind-numbing propaganda. Mainstream media in the United States — including newspapers, magazines and radio and television stations — are now largely controlled by six corporate behemoths. If you rely on information provided by just about any mainstream media outlet, you are relying on the corporate elite who control General Electric Co., Time Warner Inc., The Walt Disney Co., News Corp., CBS Corp. and Viacom Inc.

In the 1988 book Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media, contrarians Noam Chomsky and Edward S. Herman outlined the problems with mass media and how the business model inevitably leads to propagandized content.

Chomsky and Herman outline five filters for editorial bias in seeking to explain how government and corporate interests retain control of what is and isn’t reported:

  1. Size, Ownership And Profit Orientation Of The Mass Media: The First Filter. The authors argue that the mainstream media, largely owned by a handful of massive corporations that also do business in other markets, is used often to drive profits under the guise of public information. Thus, it is a corporate propaganda tool. Also, they argue that dependence on government for general policy support — business taxes, interest rates, labor policies, and enforcement and no enforcement of the antitrust laws — along with the need of cooperation from members of government with reporters on the frontlines, leads to an alliance of easily corruptible entities. Thus, government propaganda.
  2. The Advertising License To Do Business: The Second Filter. Chomsky and Herman conclude, “Advertisers will want, more generally, to avoid programs with serious complexities and disturbing controversies that interfere with the ‘buying mood.’ They seek programs that will lightly entertain and thus fit in with the spirit of the primary purpose of program purchases — the dissemination of a selling message. Thus over time, instead of programs like ‘The Selling of the Pentagon,’ it is a natural evolution of a market seeking sponsor dollars to offer programs such as ‘A Bird’s-Eye View of Scotland,’ ‘Barry Goldwater’s Arizona,’ ‘An Essay on Hotels,’ and ‘Mr. Rooney Goes to Dinner’-a CBS program on ‘how Americans eat when they dine out, where they go and why.”
  3. Sourcing Mass-Media News: The Third Filter: The authors write that mass media need a steady and constant flow of reliable and credible information. They have not the time to be everywhere at once, so they congregate around political and corporate institutions whose mere status and prestige lend credence to their information. They write: “The mass media are drawn into a symbiotic relationship with powerful sources of information by economic necessity and reciprocity of interest.”
  4. Flak And The Enforcers: The Fourth Filter: According to Chomsky and Herman, backlash from people in positions of power keep mainstream media in line. They write, “‘Flak’ refers to negative responses to a media statement or program. It may take the form of letters, telegrams, phone calls, petitions, lawsuits, speeches and bills before Congress, and other modes of complaint, threat, and punitive action. It may be organized centrally or locally, or it may consist of the entirely independent actions of individuals.”
  5. Anticommunism As A Control Mechanism: Chomsky in recent years has updated the fifth filter, changing Communism to terrorism. But the premise remains the same: Fear of a faceless enemy threatening Americans’ way of life keeps people coming back for more information. It also provides the state a sound platform upon which to build liberty-assaulting initiatives in the name of safety.

The ideas put forth in the five filters are easily researched and proved in the age of the Internet, and many people who have never even heard of Chomsky or Herman know these things about mainstream media. In just the past couple of months, the scandals surrounding News Corp. media mogul Rupert Murdoch, the selective reporting in the Trayvon Martin/George Zimmerman case and the overblown coverage of tired, fully rhetorical battles in the “War on Women” debate have all offered prime examples of why Americans no longer trust the corporate-controlled mainstream media.

The newfound — coming in just the past decade or so — widespread distrust of the mainstream media has led many people to seek out other sources of information. This has, in turn, led to a rise in the national appetite for alternative media, and the gradual lessening of corporatist and statist control over news and information. So, the elite corporatists and their government puppets have moved to make certain that the stranglehold is not lost.

Recently, legislation such as the Stop Online Piracy Act and others raised concerns among Internet freedom advocates and was stopped by a backlash. Other piracy-related bills are lying in wait and will be rammed through Congress soon enough. Who is pushing for piracy-quelling laws (read, censorship)? The entertainment industry, which says profits from movies and productions are being sapped by content pirates. But, consider this: The same major companies that are whining about film production profits also own major stock in news channels. They need censorship not so much for the film industry, but to regain control of the news media and the American psyche. There is no possible way for them to continue to propagandize all information as an army of alternative media reporters are putting out conflicting information en masse.

The Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) accused the United States and the U.K. of posing major threats to Internet freedom by way of “hasty” legislation in a recent report.

“What I see during my work is fear,” said Dunja Mijatović, who heads OSCE. “Last year we commissioned a study on media freedom in 56 states. The results are not very rosy. Governments are trying to restrict or suppress in the interests of security. Legislation is very hasty.”

Last week, House Republicans and Democrats voted 248 to 168 to pass the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA), which will make it easier for Internet companies to provide information about their users and their networks to government intelligence agencies. There has been little backlash with this bill because it is not as blatant in terms of censorship as SOPA, but is another step in the direction.

Americans believe they have a reliable source of information in the mainstream media and scoff at the idea of countries that have state-controlled media. The United States’ corporatocracy has worked to provide the illusion of an objective media, while still reaping the benefits of propagandizing all news.

In those countries with admitted state media, tyrants openly quash alternative news sources and jail those who create them. For now, the 1st Amendment will not let that happen in the United States. So elite statists and corporatists will have to quash alternative media the American way: by pushing legislation that censors Internet content in the name of safety and protectionism. That is, unless alternative news media ban together and — in the spirit of gonzo — not only tell the Nation what is happening but also make the public angry before it is too late.

Sam Rolley

Staff writer Sam Rolley began a career in journalism working for a small town newspaper while seeking a B.A. in English. After learning about many of the biases present in most modern newsrooms, Rolley became determined to find a position in journalism that would allow him to combat the unsavory image that the news industry has gained. He is dedicated to seeking the truth and exposing the lies disseminated by the mainstream media at the behest of their corporate masters, special interest groups and information gatekeepers.

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  • Sirian

    With CISPA having already passed the House it should fly through the Senate shortly. Once Obummer signs it into law, which will take but a few seconds, the door will be standing wide open. No telling what will come pouring through that door before November. The present members of Congress and what we have willingly elected as our Prez will continue on their way to control the information of their strongly questionable workings. Should the 1st Amendment be considered “terminal” or is it on life support for the time being? Watch closely, it’s slowly being dragged to the gallows by more than is realized.

    • wandamurline

      The First Amendment is not what needs to be dragged to the gallows…it is the supposed representation that needs to be hung….and they are getting closer to that everyday.

    • charlie

      Use Confederate cotton 1 inch rope it does not hurt their neck as much…

  • Pingback: America’s Corporate State Media – how the propaganda system works. . . | 2012: What's the 'real' truth?

  • Ellen

    What has happened to writing and reporting? Every day, I read stories distributed by the AP that are blatantly wrong and filled with typos or other grammatical errors. It appears these writers are not educated and lack experience. Clearly, they don’t research what they write about. There was one last month about the biggest lottery jackpot in history. The AP writer wrote about the taxes on the winnings and basically everything she wrote was wrong. So, in addition to the liberal slant on nearly all mass media, we have to deal with incorrect information. We’re fat and dumb and are spoonfed fake news and lies. What’s next for America?

    • Hey You

      WHat’s next for America?

      Probably terminal mediocracy.

    • RichE

      Liberal slant? I didn’t know Rush Limbaugh was a liberal.
      Hey! How come the Sandra Fluke T-shirts are $4.00 less than Rush’s? Rush’s must be of higher quality.

      • michiganminuteman

        Rush does not attemt to pass his show off as “NEWS”!!! He is very open about it being his “OPPINION”!!! See the difference?

        • RichE

          Rush is like Jay Leno?

      • http://naver samurai

        Baaaaa! Baaaaa! Baaaaa! FOR GOD AND COUNTRY!

        P.S. I’d rather listen to Rush than Al Frankenstien and Micheal Moore. Now they are far out in left field.

        • RichE

          I get it! Thanks Samurai. Rush is like a Micheal Moore.

      • http://naver samurai

        Bzzzzz! Wrong again Rich. What Rush says is only his opinion, but Frankenstien and Moore try to pass off what they say is the truth. They wouldn’t know the truth if it came up and smacked them. FOR GOD AND COUNTRY!

        P.S. You need both love of country and God to be a patriot.

    • charlie

      I only read Newspaper or watch TV or listen to radio to see / hear what the liars want Me to believe … Most Media have an AGENDA ,,, what is that agenda???

  • Tom T

    I majored in journalism, and am usually appalled at the shoddy work ethic, lack of attention to the five “Ws”, and the constant blurred lines between hard news and editorial opinion. My favorite prof. used to say, “If you are hiring a reporter ask them why they chose this career. If they say “To let people know what is going on in the world”, hire them. If they say “To change the world” throw them out! It is obvious who is currently winning, sadly.

    • charlie

      Tom T,,,
      Do you have a Phd in how to lie and make it appear as truth???

  • cawmun cents

    Wow!
    Someone finally did the second grade math required to figure out what the h e double hockey sticks is going on around here.
    I am humbled by their announcement.
    It shows inititative for someone to put Hollywood and journalism together with politics.(and not wanting to anger politcally correct oposition,they tie it to big business….go figure)
    It might even show a certain kind of intelligent thinking.
    But I wouldnt put much stock in that.
    Irony is amazing isnt it?
    Cheers!
    -CC.

  • WhatWillYouDoWithoutFreedom

    Anyone that relies on the TV news to get their info is being brainwashed and I don’t care what station it is. My so called conservative friends that complain about freedom, taxes, ect. all sound like a bunch of talking heads. I love them dearly, but truth is they are part of the problem. Talk to them about who they are voting for and I start wondering how can you say Romney and freedom in the same sentence or Romney and small Gov.. The only people that I can have a legitament conversation with are those that for the most part do not watch TV. The American people are so afraid. I thank God that 200 plus years ago that this was not the same crowd that had to decide if we would sign the Declaration Of Independence.

    • charlie

      Yep,,,so what are you going to do about it ??? would you believe about 99% of Americans are brainwashed / mind programmed with lies???

  • MAP

    When I was a boy, the local radio, TV, and newpapers were all locally owned and operated. Our news was locally produced (except the network variety). Today everything is part of a chain. On my truck radio I hear the same news that others are listening to on TV, or the other side of the country. It’s all out of the same message centers.I became aware of a monopoly on information some years ago. It’s a “Brave New World’.

  • Pathfinder1

    Look to the New York Times ( NYT) as the leading source for mass media news.”The Grey Lady”(NYT) as it is known, is considered Americas document of record. They (NYT) do not report news: they fabricate the news to suit their agenda. All other news sources fall in line with the NYT and report what they report. Consider all “news” from the NYT as “Fraudulent Journalism”. Without an unregulated internet we will not have the exchange of information that free speech requires. And thus we are back to government propaganda and control by elected, corrupt politicians.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1339255666 Rhonda Reichel

    is Murdoch in jail yet?

  • r hill

    The American public should be wary of watching and reading mainstream media like abc, cbs, nbc, etc. It is becoming more apparent every day that they are lieing and all reporting is done with a liberal slant. Also all reporting is done to improve the chances for Obama and the dems to win the next election. It is scary to see this happening to America as I want real news and I don’t want to be pushed toward communism and a loss of all of the freedoms we have gained since we became a country.

    There are some alternatives – one being Glenn Beck. He has become my hero for telling the truth and for enlightening me. You can see him at http://www.glennbeck.com or GBTV.com or theblaze.com.

    • charlie

      r hill,,, Glen Beck is a Mormon ,,, do Mormons lie? the ones I know are the biggest liars in the county…

  • Robert Burns

    Collectivist Chomsky represents a very untrustworthy source for information about government domination of the media. His proposals for social reorganization (not ‘reform’) cannot succeed without a monolithic downpipe of ObamaSpeak. “Please pull the chain and flush me another bowl of Truth.”

    • Vigilant

      My thoughts precisely. When I saw the name “Chomsky,” I wondered how, on a website like this, any contributor could cite Chomsky’s words.

      “Chomsky has stated that his “personal visions are fairly traditional anarchist ones, with origins in the Enlightenment and classical liberalism”, and he has praised libertarian socialism. Although Chomsky tries to avoid the ambiguity of labels, his political views are often characterized in news accounts as “leftist” or “left-wing,” and he has described himself as an anarcho-syndicalist.

      He is a member of the Campaign for Peace and Democracy and the Industrial Workers of the World international union. Chomsky is also a member of the International Organization for a Participatory Society which he describes as having the potential to “carry us a long way towards unifying the many initiatives here and around the world and molding them into a powerful and effective force.” He published a book on anarchism titled Chomsky on Anarchism, published by the anarchist book collective AK Press in 2006.” (Wikipedia)

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