Thursday, February 22, 2007

Congress must make media concentration a priority

In a totalitarian regime, the government decides what is news—what is true and what is false. They disseminate their “news” through the government-controlled media. In a democracy, there is a middleman known as the free press. The role of the press is to stand between those in power and the people to discern the truth, as best as possible. They have the training, resources, and networks to separate the egg yolk from the white, truth from propaganda, which is what separates us from totalitarian governments around the world.

What we have today is a different model. For a variety of reasons, the balance has shifted and the press no longer serves as the honest broker. Media concentration has resulted in the very large pie being shared by a mere handful of owners. This small group of generally conservative capitalists decides what is news—what is true and what is false—for most Americans. They decide which viewpoints will be heard, which experts to choose, which angle to pursue. As a result, voices that do not mesh with the owners’ capitalist agenda—socialists, gays, feminists, minorities, progressives and liberals—are ignored or attacked.

The “liberal press” is a myth. There may be liberal reporters, but those who own and run the media are anything but liberal. They are businesspeople first, citizens second, and greedy above all. They give the government what it wants through propaganda and friendly press, and the government returns the favor with deregulation and policies that allow owners to enlarge their monopolies. The American people—those whose sole source of news is the mainstream media—get the pleasure of being brainwashed. It’s a win/win/lose situation.

Breaking up the media monopoly needs to be a top agenda item of Congress, and they should start working on this soon. It may be too late for the 2008 elections, which is frightening. Another Republican in the White House for four years will surely mark the end of the American experiment. Unfortunately, the MSM must be forced to incorporate alternative voices and points of view by government. It will not move in this direction on its own.

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