Bu-lat-lat (boo-lat-lat) verb: to search, probe, investigate, inquire; to unearth facts
Volume 3, Number 13 May 4 - 10, 2003 Quezon City, Philippines
Monopolies Have Muzzled Dissent
information is the oxygen of democracy, the United States has just been gassed,
not by weapons of mass destruction but by a weapon of mass distraction.
George W. Bush basking in glorious ratings and Fox News climbing in the ratings,
we may be moving toward a coronation instead of a reelection in 2004. It was,
after all, Rupert Murdoch's unilateral anointment of Bush as the winner in the
early hours of the morning after the undecided 2000 election that led Al Gore to
foolishly concede, because he and the other networks believed what they saw on
the marriage between a government and its volunteer information ministry has
been consecrated by the blessed victory of "Operation Iraqi Freedom,"
the geopolitical equivalent of an O.J. meets "Joe Millionaire" wrapped
in the flag.
regimes don't tolerate any distinction between journalism and propaganda, but in
most democracies it is unprecedented for the free press to abandon Joseph
Pulitzer for the methods of Joseph Goebbels.
did a born-again, family-values administration get in bed with a purveyor of
misogyny and mayhem, trash and titillation? The common thread, for all the
public piety, has to be the late Lee Atwater, who was friend, mentor and role
model to George W., Karl Rove and Roger Ailes, the head hound in the Fox pound
of junkyard attack-dog journalism.
undemocratic confluence of politics and propaganda has long been in the making
as corporate media have been incrementally empowered while public influence,
input and "interest" have been eliminated.
transformation of active citizens into passive consumers was enabled by the
Federal Communications Commission under Ronald Reagan's Mark Fowler, who
declared "the perception of broadcasters as community trustees should be
replaced by a view of broadcasters as marketplace participants."
to America, Mr. Murdoch: You can buy the airwaves and, who knows, some day the
Fox could not get away with its shameless shilling for the White House if the
Fairness Doctrine were still in place, and radio's Clear Channel monopoly would
not be able to impose wall-to-wall Limbaugh, Hannity and Savage, etc., on the
public if broadcasters were accountable to public opinion rather than the
dictates of plutocrats.
could it be that in the land of the free and the home of the brave Americans are
afraid of opinions? Where are the Tom Paines, the Mark Twains, the Menckens, the
has not gone away; it has just been marginalized by monopolies and relegated to
the interstices of the Internet.
the hammer is about to drop on the Internet too. The head of the FCC, Michael
Powell, wants to give away what's left of the store to the broadband cable and
satellite providers and make them gatekeepers or tollbooths on the information
used to be that the Internet was accessed via a common carrier, the phone
company, but as technology has moved forward, these new unregulated media
monopolies have increasing control over the information pipeline. Without
regulation, they have the ability to choose what content they provide.
FCC commissioners want to delay this hand-over and encourage public debate, but
the public is largely unaware of what is at stake.
you can't expect the Limbaughs, O'Reillys and their bosses or their president in
the White House to give them talking points on preserving diversity of opinion
while there is a tax cut to sell.
speak up, America: It's your country, they're your airwaves. Maybe you can
pursue the American dream while you are asleep, but it will be too late to
reclaim your country's freedom when you wake up.
Masters is the host of "Background Briefing" on KPFK-FM (90.7) in
May 1, 2003