The Telecommunications Act of 1996 eliminated most media ownership regulations, opening the door to "marketplace regulation". Proponents said that it would increase competition, but the facts are that in less than twenty years the number of major media companies has been reduced from 80 to six. Considering the growth of cable and the 24 hour news channels, this is quite startling. Corporations did what they always do--they buy and merge and consolidate and build this giant fucking thing.
I felt this was an important preface to Bill Moyer's media thumpin' he doled out the other night on his journal, "Buying The War," on public teevee the other night. You can view it here, in case you missed it. He really takes a lot of big shots in the media to task, many refused to come on his show and explain what stupid sumbitches they were. He cast a wide net across the media elites in search of the spawn of Edward R. Murrow and indeed found them. Both of them. Two guys who worked for Knight Ridder, a news service organization, named Jonathan Landay and Warren Strobel.
They would hear some cockamamie bullshit spewed out by some shitwhistle named Kinda Sleezy Rice, Ronald Dumsfeld, Darth Cheney or Farticus and they would hit the phones to call around and find out it was total bullshit. Like the aluminum tubes. Or the Niger/Uranium thingy. Or the Kurd saying he had been in the bunker under Saddam's house and seen the WMD's. Yuk yuk. Imagine a Kurd being within a hundred miles of Saddam. Imagine WMD's under your house. Put there on purpose, by you. Nobody else batted an eye on these bullshit stories.
Punkinhaid Timmeh Russert said, "My phone never rang."
Why you stupid little quivering piece of shit, you are supposed to do the calling. Why didn't he? The OVP is on record in the Libby trial of giving Punkinhaid info so they can, "control the message."
Puppets. This is the effect of the telecommunications act. All news organizations are reduced to profit centers, giving rise to "personality courtiers" that can amass the "gets" for interviews on their programs. Contracts are negotiated for these preening peacocks in the realm of eleventy skillion dollars. What would happen if one of them would ask Newt Gingrich how anyone could take him seriously as a moral authority since he himself is a serial adulterer who gave his wife the boot for a younger chick while his wife was in the hospital for cancer?
Would Newt come back? Would any Republican visit such a show to face such withering assaults of truth and perspective?
And then we have the mighty right wing wurlitzer. On the radio, leading the assault on truth and morality, we have a drug addled gasbag with a penchant for oxycontin bought by his housekeeper for him, who also enjoys visiting small countries with rampant underage prostitution with a duffel bag full of viagra prescribed to someone else.
On the teevee we have a phone sex enthusiast who thinks harass is two words. Allegedly. He truly enjoyed telling his assistant about all the hot Italian chicks he had would bang while he was in Rome waiting for an audience with the Pope, while his pregnant wife waited patiently for him at home. Allegedly.
These two great moral authorities are the mouthpieces of the conservatives, and they wield great influence among their low information viewers. I say low information viewers because a recent survey showed Faux News viewers are as stupid as a sackfull of wet hair. And if anyone gets out of line from the "real" corporate media, they are given the full treatment of accusing them of a liberal bias. Their viewers send out blast faxes, email, threaten advertisers and sometimes they even mail out white powder. Cute huh.
So there you have it. More reporters working for fewer bosses where the wrong questions to the wrong people will get doors slammed in their faces and access denied. And if that weren't bad enough, they get bitchslapped by a hard-right organization that has the balls to call itself a news organization. So we get the war in Iraq, sold to us by a group of neocons, the sales pitches dutifully stenographed by a compliant press, and America, not to mention Iraq, as a result, got punked.
Except for our two hero's, Jonathan and Warren. Funny thing is, many papers didn't run some of their stories. Seems like they felt their articles were different, or something.
This is our FUBAR. I do not know what the solution is to a press that insists on a simple "he said--she said" format, and completely ignoring the galactic size fact sitting right before them. Even the acknowledgement of the possibility of the presence of a fact could potentially defund their children's private education. For now, the best thing we have is the blogosphere and the truth to keep hammering away at Brooks, Broder, Hiatt, Timmeh, Tweety and all the little satellites that get pulled into their orbits. They have no gravity, they just suck really hard.