Thursday, December 13, 2007

Polemic by Alison Ross

by Alison Ross

Cultural critic Harold Bloom recently said that the U.S. is one-third oligarchy, one-third plutocracy, and one-third theocracy. He also discussed the unfortunate phenomenon of media-ocrity, whereby a dangerously dominant, toxically mediocre media shapes public opinion. I would like to propose that America is a Media-ocracy, essentially the engine that by the corporate media and its advertiser-cronies.

Nowhere has this been more apparent than with the recent ABC, NBC and CNN debate debacles, in which each time a legitimate, perfectly viable candidate – Dennis Kucinich – was refused his rightful forum on the debate platform.

The ostensible purpose of the media, of course, is to act as a vehicle of information for public edification. The media was conceived to serve on behalf of the people, for our benefit, to keep us informed about the activities of a government that we elect to represent our interests. There was nothing inherently "liberal" or "conservative" in the creation of media; its only "slant" was to exist for the people's consumption and enlightenment rather than as a mouthpiece for the government or other interests. It was designed to keep the government in check so that elected officials continued to represent the people's interests.

Of course, we all know how horrifically hilarious it is to think of the modern mainstream American media as existing for US. Sure, in times past the media at least had the veneer of acting on our behalf, and perhaps in some ways it actually did serve that purpose. Media icons like Edward R. Murrow and the nightly news reports' graphic coverage of the Vietnam War remind us that there was a time when media made valiant attempts toward democratic discourse.

And of course there are luminous examples of current mainstream media truth-tellers like MSNBC's Keith Olbermann. I have only seen his show a couple of times (I don't have cable, and never will have cable, thank you very much), but I have seen video clips and I am aware that many people revere his irrepressibly honest approach.

But where was Keith Olbermann when General Electric-owned NBC reneged on its offer for Kucinich to appear in the January 15th debates? Nary an utterance slipped out of his usually pristine trap about this terrific travesty of justice – he clinically reported the facts, and that was that. I would expect more of Olbermann, who by all accounts is the assertive voice of dissent in a sea of duct-taped gum flappers.

The lessons learned from the graphic coverage of the Vietnam War, of course, was that if the public knows too much about what's really going on, it is stirred to radical rebellion. But keep people narcotized with sanitized reports and pictures and they will persist in slumbering through their blissfully oblivious lives. This is why the Iraq war continues unabated, and why so many other global atrocities are committed in our name.

And that's why the media fears the vociferous voice of Kucinich, who is rabidly anti-war, anti-corporate-dominance, and steadfastly pro-worker and human rights. Since the media mileu is corporate to the core – owned by giant conglomerates and fueled by advertisers - it perceives Kucinich as a threat, as one who cannot be bought and sold to the highest bidder. Media has subverted its original premise to act on behalf of the public and expects the presidential candidates to do the same. And of course, most will and do, including, naturally, most Democratic candidates.

These videos are potent proof that Kucinich is too audaciously authentic for a darkly dishonest media:

And, as we noted earlier, NBC is GE-owned, and GE is a defense contractor. Indeed, it manufacturers power plants and wants to dump nuclear waste in Nevada's Yucca Mountain, and Nevada was the site for the NBC debates. Kucinich is opposed to the dump, naturally, a position that aligns with his peace and justice platform. GE is the antithesis of peace and justice and will naturally muzzle those who ardently advocate such ethics.

Unfortunately, even though Kucinich sued NBC on the grounds of the FCC public interest provision and the judge ruled in his favor, NBC appealed the case and won - just minutes before the debate was to take place so that Kucinich could not counter-appeal. So, as Kucinich had argued, the debated ended up taking place among NBC's favored candidates. Demockery, anyone?

Unlike all other presidential candidates, Dennis Kucinich represents mainstream public interests – jobs and healthcare for all, an end to the war and the military industrial juggernaut, justice for workers, and so on. But the media has a vested interest in marginalizing him, not because he is too "fringe" – he is not, and in many western European countries he would be considered a mainstream social democrat – but because he screams the TRUTH, and the modern American media is all about suppressing the titantic truth in favor of narcissistic greed that will one day consume us all.

Editor's note: At the time of this printing, Dennis Kucinich had dropped out of the presidential race in order to pursue his congressional re-election. Almost as soon as he announced it, Kucinich began facing another media challenge. A press release from the Kucinich campaign states: "On Sunday, another major media corporation, The (Cleveland) Plain Dealer newspaper, followed the lead established by the national media, and demanded that Dennis Kucinich should be removed from his office as Congressman in the 10th District of Ohio. Why? 'His defiance' of Congressional go-along, get-along policies." More information about Kucinich's congressional re-election campaign can be found at: Re-elect Dennis.

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