Third Party & Independents Archives

Gullibility and Mediacracy: a conflict of disinterest

The results of a recent Pew survey, which found that “news audiences are increasingly politicized,” showed also that the US public is increasingly skeptical of the media mass. However, shouldn’t we be quite concerned about the fact that almost one-third of respondents still believe “all or most” of what they are fed by the various rackets?

While Republicans were least likely to trust the news, a whopping 45% of Democrats still believe "all or most" of what they hear on CNN. What is the Democrats' excuse for such gullibility among their ranks? Perhaps observing CNN's response to the new numbers would change the minds of these faithful. Campaign Desk quotes a CNN spokesman saying, "We're obviously pleased . . . Once again we've been voted the most trusted news organization in America." Or is this precisely the kind of rhetoric almost one out of two Democrats finds highly credible? Only with the help of Democrats did CNN win the cable news credibility contest. Overall, 32% of respondents claimed to believe "all or most" of what CNN tells them. FOX came in second with 25%.

Few things expose the moral corruption and civic rot of the Republicans and Democrats more clearly than their complicity, despite their supposed skepticism, in the staging of the news media's version of reality. For instance, they have helped divert the public's attention from media ownership and the tyranny of the big five corporations, to indecency scandals and FCC fines. No doubt this change also reflects the influence of conservative media activists, whose criticism of the industry begins and ends with facile observations about the political leanings of journalists, and complaints about the eroticized and/or vulgar content of regular programming. More serious criticism is denounced as incredible, and confined to the fringes. The very notion of grassroots "media reform" is alien to the discourse of the corporate entity. Forcing the media to cover opposition to their media model as opposition would itself be a victory in any media revolt. Currently, in a mockery of democracy, CNN spinsters are touting a 32% approval rating as a sweeping electoral victory.

Mainstream media criticism remains unsatisfactory because the question of whether a media outfit leans Republican or Democrat, liberal or conservative, is inconsequential if, in either case, the racket does not question the arrangement by which two minority special interest groups, the Republican and Democratic Parties, maintain total hegemony over the political (dis)order in both the government and the media. In other words, the media are biased in favor of the duopoly. Indeed, they're literally invested in it. "From 1999 through the end of 2003, Washington lobbyists pocketed more than $159 million in big media money to support dismantling rules against conglomerates owning more outlets in more markets," reports Timothy Karr. But we all already know why media reform is not a campaign issue. It's a classic example of a conflict of disinterests: politicians don't want to talk about it, and journalists don't want to investigate it. Karr is literally grasping at straws in his attempt to tie Kerry favorably to the subject. He sums up the Senator's take on media consolidation in this way: "had he been around to vote on last year's proposal to loosen rules against media ownership, he would have voted against it." Sounds like a top priority.

This post originally appeared here.

Posted by charles sanson at June 14, 2004 4:27 PM