Tuesday, July 8, 2008

McSame and the Media Monopoly

¡Hola! Everybody…
No foreplay today…

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Media Control & the McCain Myth

Today, you can go for weeks getting all your news and entertainment through one giant corporation: Time Warner. From books to TV to movies to magazines to internet portals, ownership of the media industry has become concentrated.

One company, Clear Channel, for example, owns more than 1,000 radio stations, most of which operate by remote control, playing prerecorded material.

When I first read the seminal study, Media Monopoly by Ben Bagdikian, there were about 50 corporations controlling the majority of the media available to Americans ™. Mergers and buyouts have enlarged the companies and reduced the number of owners. In 2004, just five corporations controlled a majority of American ™ newspapers, magazines, TV and radio stations, book publishers, and movie studios: Time Warner, Disney, News Corp., Bertelsmann, and Viacom.

This is why the idiots who keep yelling out “Liberal media!” make me laugh: if you think the corporate officers at major, multinational corporations are flaming liberals with a hidden agenda to socialize the world, then I promise to pull out if it hurts.

Liberal media… yeah right. Liberal media my a$$.

You might think much of this. In fact, you might be trying hard not to think at all, but this concentration of ownership allows a very few individuals to have enormous influence over news, information, and entertainment available to the public. It’s why I can’t blame Will Smith for his latest offering, Hancock, in which the main character, a drunken black superhero, is never shown kissing his equally powerful (and white!) wife. You can’t lay the powerful influences at the feet of Mr. Smith, as popular as he may be, he is just a cog in the machine.

Anyway… while the big media companies compete against one another in some ways, they also help each other out. In 2004, the five corporations engaged in 141 joint business projects that totaled in the hundred of millions of dollars.

This is probably why you still think Iraq and Al Qaeda were connected, that there are WMDs in Iraq, and that John McCain, the presumptive republican candidate for the presidency, is a “maverick.,” a progressive republican liberals can live with.

Nothing could be further from the truth, but you’ll never hear on the major networks, or even at the Washington Post or NY Times – arguably the most influential newspapers. I can’t delve deeply into McCain today, but I offer the following for your own erudition:

Maverick? McCain was sent to one of the most elite boarding schools in America, then to a naval academy where he ranked 894th of 899 students in ability. He used nepotism to get ahead: When he was rejected by the National War College, he used his father's contacts with the Secretary of the Navy to make them reconsider. He later married the heiress to a multi-million dollar fortune.

In his own words, he was a very violent individual from childhood. His rage seems to be a core component to his personality: describing his own childhood, McCain has written: “At the smallest provocation I would go off into a mad frenzy, and then suddenly crash to the floor unconscious. When I got angry I held my breath until I blacked out.”

He claims he was transformed by his experiences in Vietnam -- a war he still defends as “noble” and “winnable,” if only it had been fought harder.

(Okay: More than three million Vietnamese died; how much harder could it have been fought?) His plane was shot down on a bombing raid over Hanoi, and he was captured and tortured for five years. To this day, he cannot lift his arms high enough to comb his own hair.

Most of you won’t remember, but McCain was at the center of one of the most costly corruption scandals in US History: he was part of the Keating Five.” In 1987, it was revealed that McCain, along with four other senators, had taken huge campaign donations from a fraudster called Charles Keating. In return, they pressured government regulators not to look too hard into Keating's affairs, allowing him to commit even more fraud. McCain later admitted: “I did it for no other reason than I valued [Keating’s] support.”

McCain has constantly harped on how “we need to drive the special interests out of Washington,” and earned himself a high-profile for his part in campaign finance reform. However, privately, his behavior hasn’t changed much. For example, in 2000 he lobbied federal regulators hard on behalf of a major campaign contributor, Paxson Communications, in an act the regulators spluttered was “highly unusual.” More telling, he has never won an election without outspending his opponent.

However, McCain is most troublesome when it comes to his stances on foreign policy.

At a rally earlier in the year, he sang “Bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb Iran,” to the tune of the Beach Boys’ “Barbara Ann.” He has gone on record as saying that North Korea should be threatened with “extinction.”

McCain has never met a humanitarian effort he liked, mocking proposals to intervene in Rwanda or Bosnia -- but he is very enthusiastic to use it for power imperialism.

Today, McCain dreamily describes as “an exotic adventure” his granddad’s war experience, who fought in the Philippine wars at the turn of the 20th century. He was part of a mission to crush the local resistance to the U.S. invasion, which they did it by forcing the entire population from their homes at gunpoint into “protection zones,” and gunning down anybody over the age of 10 who was found outside them.

McCain’s father was an integral part of crushing the democratically elected government of Juan Bosch in the Dominican Republic. McCain’s father gushed, “That’ll teach the natives how to act.

These values are what drive McCain today. He brags that he would be happy to have US troops in Iraq for 100 years if necessary. A McCain administration would probably one of the most militaristic, making the blundering Bush administration look like doves in comparison. He’s no moderate by any stretch. He favors a ban on a woman’s right to choose and gay marriage for example. And while he was soft on immigration and has apologized for his erroneous stance on global warming, McCain has drifted more and more to the extreme right.

McCain maverick?

I don’t think so. I see him as more of the McSame.



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