January 30, 2010
from DissidentVoice Website
The Corporate News Media -
Not in the Business of News
That was twenty-five years ago and after two-plus decades of more deregulation and the growth of conglomerates in the media, that trend has continued.
From Tyra Banks’ shifting figure and the Balloon
Boy hoax, to the celebrity death of Michael Jackson and the Obama Beer
Summit, Americans are fed a steady “news” diet of tabloidized, trivialized,
and outright useless information laden with personal anecdotes, scandals,
The magnitude of corporate media attention paid to Smith’s death were clearly out of synch with the coverage the story deserved, which was at most a simple passing mention. Instead, CNN broadcast “breaking” stories of Smith’s death uninterrupted, without commercials, for almost two hours, with commentary by lead anchors and journalists.
This marked among the longest uninterrupted
“news” broadcasts at CNN since the tragic events of September 11, 2001. Anna Nicole Smith and 9/11 are now strange bedfellows, milestone
bookends of a deranged corporate news culture.1
The once trivial and absurd are now mainstreamed as “news.”
More young people turn to late night comics’
fake news to learn the truth or tune out to so-called reality shows often
scripted as Roman Holiday spectacles of the surreal. This hyper-reality
creation of corporate media in the 21st century has led to what Postman
presciently warned about: an infotainment society.2
British tabloid News of the World published an exclusive photo of Olympic gold medalist Michael Phelps smoking marijuana from a bong on Sunday, February 1, 2009, with the headline, “What a Dope.”
The picture was allegedly taken during a November house party while Phelps was visiting the University of South Carolina. The incident occurred nearly three months after the swimmer won eight gold medals for America at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, China. Phelps quickly apologized to the public for his “regrettable behavior.”
The bong’s owner reportedly tried to sell it on eBay for $100,000. In the weeks following, Phelps lost his sponsorship from Kellogg’s cereal.
Did anyone ask:
Photos of Jessica Simpson performing at a Florida Chili Cook-off looking a bit heavier than usual surfaced during the week of January 26, 2009.
The purportedly unflattering shots of a curvier looking Simpson in an outfit that included “a muffin-top-inducing leopard belt” immediately made news headlines.
During a pre-Super Bowl interview, President Obama even noted that Simpson was “in a weight battle.”
The US is not only becoming a nation of obese people, but is on the verge of another phenomenon the equivalent of cultural and mental obesity.
We, in America, are a nation awash in a sea of information yet we have a paucity of understanding. We are a country where over a quarter of the population know the names of all five members of the fictitious family from The Simpsons, yet only one in a thousand can name all the rights protected under the first amendment to the US Constitution. Journalistic values have been sold out to commercial interests and not even our core, national and constitutionally protected values are sacred.
Far too often, important news stories are underreported or ignored entirely by corporate news outlets, especially on television, where over seventy percent of Americans get their news, even though only an astounding twenty-nine percent say it is accurate.
In short, Americans are living in a state of
What are some of these truths, that not knowing them creates a literal state of emergency for human society? Here are two of many possible examples.
A 2008 report from The World Bank admitted that in 2005, over three billion people lived on less than $2.50 a day and about forty-four percent of these people survive on less than $1.25.
Complete and total wretchedness can be the only
description for the circumstances faced by so many, especially those in
urban areas of so-called developing nations. Simple items Americans take for
granted like phone calls, nutritious food, vacations, television, dental
care, and inoculations are beyond the possible for billions of people.6
These stories should be alarming headlines,
certainly more significant than celebrity tripe and tabloid hype.7
It turns out that while farmers grow enough food to feed the world, commodity speculators and huge grain traders like Cargill control the global food prices and distribution. Starvation is profitable for corporations when demands for food push the prices up. Cargill announced that profits for commodity trading for the first quarter of 2008 were eighty-six percent above 2007.
World food prices grew twenty-two percent from
June 2007 to June 2008 and a significant portion of the increase was
propelled by the $175 billion invested in commodity futures that speculate
on price instead of seeking to feed the hungry. This results in erratic food
price spirals, both up and down, with food insecurity remaining widespread.8
Given that ten times as many innocent people died of starvation than those in the World Trade Centers on September 11, 2001,
While news stories on realities of global hunger remain under-covered in the US, topics closer to home are often ignored as well.
For example, racial inequality remains
problematic in the US. People of color continue to experience
disproportionately high rates of poverty, unemployment, police profiling,
repressive incarceration and school segregation.
However, Black and Latino students attend schools more segregated today than during the civil rights era.
Over fifty years after the US Supreme Court
case: Brown VS Board of Education, schools remain separate and not equal.
Orfield’s study shows that public schools in the Western states, including
California, suffer from the most severe segregation in the US, rather than
schools in the southern states as many people believe.9
Schools remain highly unequal, both in terms of
money, and qualified teachers and curriculum. Unequal education leads to
diminishing access to colleges and future jobs for the afflicted
demographics. Non-white schools are segregated by poverty as well as race.
These “chocolate” low-income public schools are where most of the nation’s
drop-outs occur, leading to large numbers of virtually unemployable young
people of color struggling to survive in a troubled economy.
Nonetheless, many whites find it difficult to
accept that geographically and structurally based racism remains a
significant barrier for many students of color. Whites often say racism is
in the past, that Americans need not think about it today. Yet, inequality
stares back at society daily from the barrios, ghettos, and from behind
Sadly, there are many more examples.
The corporate media in the US like to think of themselves as the official, most accurate source for news reporting of the day.
The New York Times motto of “all the news that’s fit to print” is a clear example of this perspective as is CNN’s “most trusted name in news” and at Fox News they go so far as to remind news consumers “we report, you decide” and that they are “fair and balanced.”
However, with corporate media coverage dependent on fewer reporters as a result of downsizing that increasingly focus on a narrow range of celebrity updates, news from official government and institutional sources (almost three quarters of cited sources), and sensationalized crimes and disasters, the self-justification of being the most fit or trusted is no longer valid for American journalism.
This shift away from fact-based, socially
relevant reporting constitutes a principle form censorship at the base of
this ongoing truth emergency. However, this is not the only form of
The corporate media in the United States are ignoring valid news stories, even when based on university quality research.
It appears that certain topics are simply forbidden inside the mainstream corporate media today. To openly cover these news stories would stir up questions regarding “inconvenient truths” that many in the US power structure would rather avoid. An example of one group that is doing this is Project Censored, and the Project has done so every year since 1976.
They cover the inconvenient truths, expose the
junk news patterns, and call for a more independent, research driven,
transparent and fact-based system of reporting on all relevant topics for
our democratic society.
Here are some more details of the ongoing truth
In a January 2008 report, ORB reported that,
A 2006 Johns Hopkins study confirmed that US aerial bombing in civilian neighborhoods caused over a third of these deaths and that over half the deaths are directly attributable to US forces. Iraqi civilian death levels in the summer of 2009 likely now exceed 1.2 million.
John Tirman, executive director and
principal research scientist at MIT’s Center for International Studies
writes in The Nation, January 28, 2009, “we have, at present between 800,000
and 1.3 million “excessive Deaths” as we approach the six-year anniversary
of this war." 11
While media, including a lead editorial in the New York Times, October 19, 2006, have given false comfort that American citizens will not be the victims of the measures legalized by this Act, the law is quite clear that ‘any person’ can be targeted. The text in the MCA allows for the institution of a military alternative to the constitutional justice system for “any person” regardless of American citizenship.
The MCA effectively does away with habeas corpus
rights for all people living in the US deemed by the president to be enemy
combatants.12 In September 2009, President
Obama quietly pledged
to continue the program as it was instituted by the
Bush administration with
The law in effect repealed the
Act from 1878, which had placed strict prohibitions on military involvement
in domestic law enforcement in the US marking an end to the post-Civil War
Unfortunately, most of those arrested were not, in fact, violent criminals according to the government’s own statistics. The operations, coordinated by the Justice Department and Homeland Security, directly involved over 960 agencies (state, local and federal) and are the first time in US history that all of the domestic police agencies have been put under the direct control of the federal government.
As of July 2009, the sixth effort of the FALCON raids has increased the number of “dangerous fugitive felons” arrested to more than 91,000 (of which only 991 were murder suspects, and only 2,269 were gang members despite that these were the very groups they were claiming to round up).15
Finally, the term “terrorism” has been dangerously expanded to include any acts that interfere, or promotes interference, with the operations of animal enterprises. The Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act (AETA), signed into law on November 27, 2006, expands the definition of an “animal enterprise” to any business that “uses or sells animals or animal products.”
The law essentially defines protesters,
boycotters or picketers of businesses in the US as terrorists. This is a
clear infringement of first amendment rights.16
When corporate media fail to cover these issues, what else can it be called it but censorship?
These are issues are of considerable concern for
the public at large. Conclusions on such matters can only be arrived upon
after scrupulous analysis of all known facts. Given that all the facts about
these stories are not widely reported, if at all, this leads to a
significant crisis for any democracy.
A press release by ACLU announcing the deaths
was immediately picked up by Associate Press (AP) wire service making the
story available to US corporate media nationwide. A thorough check of Nexis-Lexis
and Proquest library data bases showed that at least ninety-nine percent of
the daily papers in the US did not pick up the story, nor did AP ever
conduct follow up coverage on the issue.17
The AP, with 3,700 employees, has 242 bureaus
worldwide that deliver news reports twenty-four hours a day, seven days a
week to 121 countries in five languages including English, German, Dutch,
French, and Spanish. In the US alone, AP reaches 1,700 daily, weekly,
non-English, college newspapers, and 5,000 radio and television stations. AP
reaches over a billion people every day via print, radio, or television.
Alison Weir, Joy Ellison, and Peter Weir of the organization If Americans Knew conducted research on the AP’s reporting of the Israel-Palestine conflict. The study was a statistical analysis of the AP newswire in the year 2004, looking comparatively at the numbers of Israeli and Palestinian deaths reported.
The same could be said of AP’s reporting of children’s deaths.
Looking to Haiti for yet another example, on February 29, 2004, AP widely reported that Haitian rebels ousted President Aristide and that the United States provided an escort to take him out of the country to a safe asylum.
Within 24 hours an entirely different story emerged through independent radio. Instead of the US being the supportive facilitator of Aristide’s safety, Pacifica Radio News reported that Aristide was actually kidnapped by US forces. AP quickly changed their story.
On March 1, 2004, an AP report by Deb Riechman said,
The last AP report of Aristide’s claiming that he had been kidnapped by the US in a State Department coup was on June 27, 2004. Since then there have been more than sixty news articles by AP including Aristide’s name. Of these stories, none mentioned Aristide’s claim that he was kidnapped by the United States military.
None mention the US backing of the coup. AP’s bias in favor of the State Department’s version of the Aristide’s removal seems to be a deliberate case of AP-sanctioned forgetting. AP is a massive institutionalized bureaucracy that feeds news stories to nearly every newspaper and radio/TV station in the United States.
They are so large that top-down control of single news stories is practically impossible.
However, research clearly indicates a built-in
bias favoring official US government positions.19
Reform Media Reform - Pursuit and Reporting of Truth Emergency Issues
There is a literal truth emergency in the United
States, not only regarding distant wars, torture camps, and doctored
intelligence, but also around issues that most intimately impact our lives
at home. For example, few Americans know that there has been a thirty-five
year decline in real wages for most workers in the country, while the top
ten percent now enjoy unparalleled wealth with strikingly low tax burdens.
Michael Moore’s top-grossing movie Sicko is one example of telling the people what is really going on.
Health care activists know that US health
insurance is an extremely large and lucrative industry with the top nine
companies “earning” $30 billion in profits in 2006 alone. The health-care
industry represents the country’s third-largest economic sector, trailing
only energy and retail among the 1,000 largest US firms.
That’s fifteen times the number of people killed on 9/11. In fact, 2,266 veterans died in 2008 due to lack of health coverage. For a nation awash in “Support the Troops” rhetoric, bumper stickers, magnets, and other paraphernalia, it seems odd the US press largely ignored the Harvard Medical School study that discovered this troubling statistic.
Yet, despite these scholarly findings, the US
Congress cannot seem to pass a public option or single payer bill even
though a majority of the public and health practitioners support these
policies. Corporate media has largely shut these approaches out of the
discussion, often even when dealing with veteran’s affairs.20
To protect their bloated bottom lines, private insurance companies and HMOs invest heavily in lobbyists and corporate-friendly political candidates that promote their “indispensable” role in any future health care reforms. Besides their insider political influence, these firms deploy massive advertising budgets to discourage media investigations of the economic interests shaping health policies today. Political analysts have long counted on exit polls to be a reliable predictor of actual vote counts.
The unusual discrepancy between exit poll data and the actual vote count in the 2004 election challenges that reliability. However, despite evidence of technological vulnerabilities in the voting system and a higher incidence of irregularities in swing states, this discrepancy was not scrutinized in the corporate media.
They simply parroted the partisan declarations
of “sour grapes” and “let’s move on” instead of providing any meaningful
analysis of a highly controversial election.
But the official result deviated from the poll
projections by more than five percent - a statistical impossibility.21
Activist groups working on exposing issues like
9/11 truth, election fraud, impeachable offenses, war propaganda, civil
liberties abuses, torture, and many corporate-caused economic and
environmental crises have been systematically excluded from mainstream news
and the national conversation leading to a genuine truth emergency in the
country as a whole.
These activists know we need a journalism that
moves beyond forensic inquiries into particular crimes and atrocities, and
exposes wider patterns of corruption, propaganda and illicit political
control to rouse the nation to reject a malignant corporate status quo.
...compounded by top down corporate media propaganda across the spectrum on public issues.
Glenn Beck was able to say on national Fox News television in June of 2009 that the 9/11 Truth movement openly supported the shooting at the Holocaust Museum. Beck claimed that 9/11 Truth proponents saw shooter James von Brunn as a “hero.” Beck’s statement is completely without factual merit and represents a hyperrealist slamming of a group already slanderously pre-labeled by the corporate and much of the progressive media as “conspiracy theorists.”
These ad hominem attacks are no substitute for factual reporting and fair coverage. In fact, they are simply lies.
Further, journalists are supposed to be trained to ferret out conspiracies against the public, not shy away from them for fear of being attacked. Conspiracies tend to be actions by small groups of individuals rather than massive collective plots by entire governments. However, small groups can be dangerous, especially when the individuals have significant power in huge public and private bureaucracies.
Corporate boards of directors meet in closed rooms to plan to how best to maximize profit.
If they knowingly make plans that hurt others, violate laws, undermine ethics, or show favoritism to friends, they are involved in a conspiracy. In addition to attacking, labeling, and the reporting of falsehoods, another method of critics of unofficial investigations into 9/11, election fraud, and other controversial issues is to lump together all the questions and/or lines of inquiry as if they all have equal validity.
Obviously, they do not.
This, however, allows critics to dismiss fact-based, transparent inquiries into major problems with official explanations of these crucial matters by focusing on the most absurd claims only. These are fallacies including over-generalizations, straw persons, appeals to questionable authority, and red herrings that provide distractions from actual fact-based, scientific investigations (or ones based on actual journalist principles).
These tactics avoid the debates about truth entirely. We the people must not be afraid to openly discuss, research, and validate these issues.
Here is yet another case in point:
Especially troubling is the collapse of WTC 7, a
forty-seven-story building that was not hit by planes, yet dropped in its
own “footprint” at nearly freefall speed in the same manner as a controlled
The authors write,
Thermite is a pyrotechnic composition of a metal powder and a metal oxide, which produces an aluminothermic reaction known as a thermite reaction and is used in controlled demolitions of buildings.
This data raises significant critical questions about the events of 9/11, regardless of what one believes. This should be a part of our political discourse given how much of the policy in the past eight years has been based on assumptions about 9/11.
In a free society, this type of inquiry would be
a matter of civic principle, not national ridicule, which it what it has
largely been when it has not been totally ignored by corporate media. To
challenge the official narrative of 9/11 in the US is akin to denying the
existence of god, the ultimate blasphemy or heresy, in a theocratic culture.22
Consumers of corporate news media - especially those whose understandings are framed primarily from that medium alone - are embedded in a state of excited delirium of knowinglessness. This lack of factual awareness of issues like election fraud in 2000 and 2004, and the increasing evidence of 9/11 Commission Report inaccuracies and omissions, leaves people politically paralyzed.
The real free press is supposed to inform and
embolden citizen action, not distract and misinform to the point of a
We the people must become the media.
Our survival as a free society depends upon it.23
The purpose of the free press, as enunciated by key founders of America, was to keep the citizenry informed, engaged, and in dialogue with one another about the crucial issues of the day.
The health of any democracy can be diagnosed by
the degree to which information flows freely in the culture. Anything that
interferes with that free flow of information is a form of censorship, which
acts to derail, distort, and deny the efficacy of any true democratic
In his first inaugural address, Jefferson said,
Now imagine Glenn Beck or Bill O’Reilly
advocating honest, open dialogue on their corporate media programs.
Now envision that Americans demand that the truth be spoken across the so-called public airwaves.
The sharing of knowledge becomes a dialogue that
leads to informed opinions and choices, ones that measure up to the national
values and principles in the founding documents.
They are the very concepts that make us humane in the modern world. The media, the supposed free press, should be encouraging robust dialogues while fighting for the future of all Americans, not just for the insurance companies, banks, big pharma, and the military industrial complex.
In keeping with the founders’ notions of natural rights and intent in providing for the general welfare, we would do well to note that healthcare is a human right, workers have the right to the fruits of their labor, environmental degradation is a crime against humanity, and war is terrorism. These positions should all be part of national discourse in a truly free press.
Where are these voices in the corporate media
A truly free press would herald these vile decrees and deeds as those of charlatans and demagogues. We must be the change we wish to see and we must not rely on spoon-fed, top down, corporate media propaganda. We must become the media in the process of sharing knowledge with each other on the road to a better world.
Since the corporate media are not in the
business of news and are not beholden to empirical truths, rather, only to
shareholder profits and their own bottom line, they should not be trusted.
An actual free press would provide factual
knowledge and encourage us to engage with each other in our local
communities on a daily basis in the quest to solve societal problems.24
This must be the crucial focal point of media reform, which actually is more of a media revolution.
The health and meaningfulness of our cultural
dialogue, as well as the future of our republic, may well depend upon how
swiftly and significantly we address the current Truth Emergency and what we
do about it.
The new Censored 2010 yearbook has drawn
international attention to some of the most important underreported stories
of our times and we are researching many stories for our next book already.
We continue to need your vital support of Project Censored as we
transition and expand our work to bring forth the most important news
stories of the year both in print and online.
Peter Phillips and Mickey Huff not only continue to pursue censored media with this effort, but in addition there are also now over 30 affiliates with more on the way, including some from Latin America, Europe, and Asia. The 2010 book contains work from nine of the affiliates, with a few placing stories in the top ten.
The MFI website will be a home base for
affiliate work and continue to publish Validated Independent News stories
and more detailed academic, investigative reports year round in the effort
to combat censorship and the ongoing Truth Emergency in the United States
and around the world.