Froomkin on The Media

One of my favorite writers–now at the HuffPo–Dan Froomkin has a post up that really speaks to the heart of the matter: How the Mainstream Press Bungled the Single Biggest Story of the 2012 Campaign. We’ve long been saying it, as have other bloggers whom I greatly admire, that both sides Don’t do it, and in essence that’s Froomkin’s thesis.

We’ve spitballed Cokie Roberts a lot over the years, as she is almost always the first person to leap to False Equivalencyville on any of the Sunday Talkies. No matter what the subject of the GOP’s latest transgression, Roberts will immediately and reflexively jump in with, “…but the Democrats…” and name something unrelated. I think for a while we even called it the Cokie Roberts Rule when the blog first started, but it had become such a reflex in the punditry now that it is no longer funny.

Driftglass tells a joke where Dick Cheney is filmed on the front Lawn at the White House gutting live kitties and throwing the poor twitching things on a barbecue, and Cokie Roberts immediately says, “But the Democrats…”

Back to Froomkin. The issue, says Froomkin, is that the media is too timid and too afraid of being viewed as biased, and so that they go out of their way to always have a counterpoint, no matter how much of a false equivalency it might be. The problem is that as the GOP lurched off the charts into absolutely delusional, fact-free, poo-in-their-hair, shrieking, that the media could not report it as such. So they treated the squawking of lunatics as a legitimate point of view.

Even the latest craziness that the UN is going to force home-schooled kids to have wheel chair access to their houses drove the wingnuts to vote down the ratification of a non-binding treaty that asks all other nations in the world to live up to the much esteemed Americans With Disabilities Act. Read the Media’s coverage of it. It’s amazing.

While many others say that there is too much money in politics–which is true–and that we will never have a real democracy (and we never will: we have a democratic republic) until we can purge money from the system, I continue to say that the biggest obstacle we face is the Media. And let me be more specific, it is really about media ownership. The Progressive, some years back, had a wonderful chart that showed who-owned-which media companies (similar to this chart from Corporate Media Exposed). There were about six companies that owned it all (globally) back then. Globally. It has since then grown to be a smaller list.

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see that if you rock the boat, you will never work in the Village again. The timidity of journalists is not necessarily enforced by the head office, but they don’t have to enforce it. It is generally understood where the boss stands, and so you don’t have to even be told to hold back on something. Case in point: during the Thee Mile Island meltdown, NBC (at various times owned by GE and Westinghouse, both of whom made nuclear power plants) never had it as their top story, and quickly dropped it.

The point here is: if you can never get your message out, you don’t stand a chance of winning. Until the media monopoly is broken up, and journalists find themselves unshackled, nothing will change.

One of my other favorite journalists, Bill Moyers, has said of journalism, that the facts lead you to a conclusion. There is no bias in factual reporting. Our free and unfettered press should try it sometime.

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0 Responses to Froomkin on The Media

  1. This is both frightening and supremely disheartening. Our media never ceases to amaze me by inventing new ways to let the American public down and grovel at the feet of their corporate owners.

    Add to this the constant Reicht-Wing bellowing about “Teh Libbrul Meeeedia!!!” and there’s absolutely no need for ipecac in this world.


  2. Oh, and don’t let me leave without thanking our host – Well Played and Bravo, Tengrain, for both the chart and your analysis of the situation!


  3. Pete says:

    Can you even imagine how awful it’d be without the internet? Imagine if 100% of all media was corporate sponsored. They tried to rat tail all the bloggers with contrary opinions to a slow, coagulated portion of the web not too long back. They failed, but I am expecting a new unpublicized change to be inflicted on us sometime down the road.


  4. gr8shoes says:

    This is a wonderful post; but one correction is necessary in 1979 NBC was not owned by GE, it was part of RCA. RCA was acquired by GE in 1985.


    • Tengrain says:

      Gr8shoes –

      That is a worthy correction, thank you for bringing it to my attention. Though we are snarky, we aim to be accurate as we can, and your comment brings a more nuanced interpretation. I painted with a too-broad brush.

      GE and Westinghouse both have owned NBC (and RCA). GE has the distinction of owning it in the early part of the 20th century, having it split up by anti-trust charges, and then buying it back in the good-old Reagan era. Westinghouse also owned it for a while, and while during the Three Mile Island era, members on the board were also from those nuclear reactor-building companies.

      Fun fact: the three-tone NBC audio branding are G – E- C, for General Electric Company.





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