“COLLUSION AT THE HIGHEST LEVEL …”
|| By ROBERT ROMANO || “The most powerful weapon deployed by the Clintons is the corporate media. Let’s be clear on one thing: the corporate media in our country is no longer involved in journalism. They are a political special interest, no different than any lobbyist or other financial entity with an agenda. And their agenda is to elect the Clintons at any cost, at any price, no matter how many lives they destroy. For them, it is a war — and for them, nothing is out of bounds.”
That was GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump in a West Palm Beach, Fla. speech on Oct. 13 offering a bleak assessment of the current state of not only the presidential election, but also journalism and even the health of our democracy. Trump’s comments came amid a barrage of media attacks on his candidacy over his video comments about his treatment of women in 2005, followed up by numerous accusations against him of inappropriate conduct, and as Wikileaks revelations showed the Hillary Clinton campaign colluding at the highest levels with major media entities to advance her candidacy.
That part of the charge is clear enough. As the most devastating disclosures against Clinton from Wikileaks were coming, the media assault on Trump reached a fever pitch to obscure just how corrupt and criminal the Clintons really are. Imagine the uproar if it had been discovered Donald Trump had deleted evidence subject to a Congressional subpoena. And then, if it had been revealed that the Justice Department colluded with the government to cover it up.
The nation certainly remembers the uproar when Richard Nixon deleted 18 minutes of the White House tapes that were under subpoena. And then his infamous Midnight Massacre as Justice Department officials were fired until he got the outcome of the investigation into himself he wanted. Then, major media outlets played a role in holding corrupt government officials accountable.
Now, media outlets are very much a part of the cover-up of Clinton’s crimes.
But this goes beyond mere liberal media bias – as if the problem was merely confined to the hiring practices at media outlets. That trivializes the issue. Trump went deeper, offering a wider context in his indictment of corporate influence over the country.
“The Washington establishment, and the financial and media corporations that fund it, exists for only one reason: to protect and enrich itself,” said Trump, adding, “For those who control the levers of power in Washington, and for the global special interests they partner with, our campaign represents an existential threat. This is not simply another 4-year election. This is a crossroads in the history of our civilization that will determine whether or not we the people reclaim control over our government.”
To Trump, the corporate media in its current form represents a threat to democracy itself: “This is a struggle for the survival of our nation. This election will determine whether we are a free nation, or whether we have only the illusion of democracy but are in fact controlled by a small handful of global special interests rigging the system. This is not just conspiracy but reality, and you and I know it. The establishment and their media enablers wield control over this nation through means that are well known.”
Here’s the thing. Trump is basically right.
Most of all media in this country is owned by just a few companies, Free Press finds in a 2011 of study of media consolidation across print, television, radio and the Internet. Just 24 companies are listed, but the assets owned number in the hundreds. A chapter on the topic in Censored 2006 by Bridget Thornton, Britt Walters and Lori Rouse, “Corporate Media is Corporate America” noted the massive overlap of individuals who sit on the boards at major media outlets and those of non-media corporations.
Throw in the new social media giants: Google, Facebook and Amazon – or Internet domain name system megaopolies ICANN and Verisign – and the same pervasive trend towards consolidation and liberal politics emerges.
To be fair, these new companies have created digital platforms that on the surface allow all sides the argument, the marketplace of ideas, to compete. But even now, accusations emerge of suppressing stories and growing online censorship, not just in the political realm, but also the business realm. Robert Epstein, Senior Research Psychologist at the American Institute for Behavioral Research and Technology, painstakingly put together an eye-opening piece for U.S. News & World Report, “The New Censorship.” He compares these Internet titans to public utilities and notes numerous ways that Google censors content on its search engine every day.
As Epstein warns, “When Google’s employees or algorithms decide to block our access to information about a news item, political candidate or business, opinions and votes can shift, reputations can be ruined and businesses can crash and burn. Because online censorship is entirely unregulated at the moment, victims have little or no recourse when they have been harmed.”
All the while our corporate overlords assure us there is nothing to it. Just Google, “Google suppresses search results,” without the quotes. See how many pages of “nothing to see here” mouthpiece articles you find. Then imagine what might happen if the water company could just turn off the water to dissidents.
In the information age, we marvel at all the seeming alternatives now presented to us, but the vast majority of those outlets are again owned by those same 24 companies – a number that could shrink even more in the future.
Is that a real choice?
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(Banner image via iStock)