Men of Good Fortune…

Often cause empires to fall. While men of poor beginnings, often can’t do anything at all. (Lou Reed)

William Randolph Hearst

It is the men of good fortune that have historically and currently dominate the apparatus’ of functioning democracy. Perhaps the single greatest victory of imperialist interests throughout the past one hundred years has been the domination of the media complex that shapes our schema of our surroundings and the world at large.

Through the control of the information that is received and ultimately processed by us, the mass consumers of such information; this media monopoly has succeeded quite substantially by limiting our perceptions of the systemic failures that perpetuate our own alienation and exploitation for the benefit of the larger corporate structure that thrives as long as we remain in fear, divided and in a reactionary state in perpetuity.

It was around the turn of the century that publishing tycoon William Randolph Hearst would begin his meteoric rise to the top of the information hegemony food chain. Hearst was not necessarily unique or pioneering in any particular sense, but it was his ruthless monopolization of an industry supposedly designed to spread information for the public well being that has cemented his legacy in the annals of American History. Through limiting competition and providing a constant stream of what we would later know as tabloid journalism, Hearst amassed a media monopoly that stifled legitimate systemic critique and propagated and invented the information he saw fit for mass consumption.

There are striking similarities to Hearst and Rupert Murdoch, who got his start in Australian tabloid publishing and later would dominate the global media market by providing divisive infotainment that is either loved by a certain piece of the populace, or derided by another piece; the end result is division over content that exists for the sole purpose of creating division — and making massive profits through the advertising dollars that controversy provides.

Rupert Murdoch

To simply dismiss Murdoch as an evil media tycoon determined to squash competition and make unimaginable profits by selling conflict would be too lazy an analysis. While Murdoch is indeed all of those things and more, he is also quite shrewd and intelligent, knowing full well what the public yearns to consume and what will produce maximum divisiveness to generate buzz and ratings. FOX News, being a very small piece of the Murdoch empire, garners much more discussion and derision than it actually deserves. It is by simply producing the most arbitrarily divisive and uniformed content spewed by the loudest mongers of ignorance that FOX News commands so much attention from so many individuals who would be better served worrying about larger issues of social concern, yet are so easily enticed to take arms against such ignorance mongers that they ultimately end up feeding the divisiveness that enables ignorance to prevail.

The global media; through print, television and now the internet, is a vast wasteland of lowest common denominator content, that Murdoch and FOX are nothing more than slightly larger than average fish in a vast sea filled with misinformation and ignorance existing solely to perpetuate division. Whether this is by conscious design or unintended reactionary dissonance is beside the point as the end result is the same: a very narrow ideological discourse masquerading as vast divisions in beliefs and political affiliations.

What is most concerning about corporate media control is the fact that the same corporations that manufacture the mechanisms for war, environmental devastation and human exploitation in the periphery for the sake of profiteering and imperial hegemony are the same corporations controlling the vast networks of information that are digested and taken as fact by the public who have limited options for discovering information and discourse contrary to the corporate controlled information. Perhaps most ingenious of this system is its ability to convince so many of a vast Liberal Media Bias. Quite tho opposite is true, the media is quite conservative if one is to define it given our limited schema of political and ideological schisms. Nearly twenty years ago, Noam Chomsky spoke in very broad terms about the sum total of systemic realities and the role of the corporate media:

Well, if you want to understand the way any society works, ours or any other, the first place to look is who is in a position to make the decisions that determine the way the society functions. Societies differ, but in ours, the major decisions over what happens in the society — decisions over investment and production and distribution and so on — are in the hands of a relatively concentrated network of major corporations and conglomerates and investment firms. They are also the ones who staff the major executive positions in the government. They’re the ones who own the media and they’re the ones who have to be in a position to make the decisions. They have an overwhelmingly dominant role in the way life happens. You know, what’s done in the society. Within the economic system, by law and in principle, they dominate. The control over resources and the need to satisfy their interests imposes very sharp constraints on the political system and on the ideological system. (Chomsky Interview, 1992)

In this broader context, media is one of many corporate interests who dictate our democracy, thus necessitating the manufacturing of information to meet the end goals of corporatism. This was well before the internet became such a prominent medium of information assimilation, though the result is much the same as it was in 1992 when Chomsky made his assertions.

While we indeed have many more options as far as diversity of information and rational ideological discourse is concerned, we are nonetheless still in a mode of reaction at all times. Despite the fact that critique from media outlets once without a voice is readily available, it is drowned out by the vast amount of advertising, infotainment and self-manufactured division by those who are far too busy participating in virtual shouting fests with those who are on the opposite end of the political divide. Again, the genius of the system is that there is no political divide in reality, as we are all beholden to the same corporate interests that control both political parties, yet offer very different and very charged rhetoric to perpetuate divisiveness which ultimately allows for the further marginalization of rational dissent.

There is a diversity of information available if one is to look for it, yet this again could be fool’s gold. The Telecommunications Act of 1996 further consolidated media monopolies, and again, fourteen years later, the issue of ‘Net Neutrality shows that similar corporate control of information on the internet is a distinct possibility. If Net Neutrality legislation is not enacted, four media conglomerates — AT&T, Comcast, Verizon and Time Warner — will essentially have control over what sites and subscribers receive the highest bandwidth, essentially shutting out any content (through limiting bandwidth) of any content that does not advance their goals. From William Randolph Hearst to Rupert Murdoch to the telecom monopolies, history is repeating itself in the digital age.

Robert McChesney, a multi-published author and  longtime outspoken critic of corporate media control offers some real solutions, though these are dependent on us, the people who supposedly make up democracy, forcing our representatives to give us equal access to all sources of information.

…We need a system of real public broadcasting, with no advertising, that accepts no grants from corporations or private bodies, and that serves the entire population, not merely those who are disaffected from the dominant commercial system and have to contribute during pledge drives. Two hurdles stand in the way of such a system. The first is organizational: How can public broadcasting be structured to make the system accountable and prevent a bureaucracy impervious to popular tastes and wishes, but to give the public broadcasters enough institutional strength to prevent implicit and explicit attempts at censorship by political authorities? The second is fiscal: Where will the funds come from to pay for a viable public broadcasting service? At present, the federal government provides $260 million annually. The public system I envision-which would put per capita US spending in a league with, for example, Britain and Japan-may well cost $5-10 billion annually.

There is no one way to resolve the organizational problem, and perhaps an ideal solution can never be found. But there are better ways, as any comparative survey indicates. One key element in preventing bureaucratic ossification or government meddling will be to establish a pluralistic system, with national networks, local stations, community and public access stations, all controlled independently. In some cases direct election of officers by the public and also by public broadcasting employees may be appropriate, whereas in other cases appointment by elected political bodies may be preferable… (McChesney: Making Media Democratic)

It is in all of our interests to make sure our elected officials start serving our interests over corporate interests. If we allow the further monopolization of information, we are allowing the wealthy, the powerful and the corporate imperialists to continue to write our history through their distorted lens of reality.


Copyright: Curl Publishing Incorporated. Cannot be reproduced or republished without the written or implied consent of Curl Publishing Incorporated.


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