July 15th, 2011 10:36 EST
Murdoch Lesson: A Misinformed Public is in Corporate America's Best Interests
It was sick before he arrived
Advocates of ethical journalism have less to gloat over the difficulties besetting Rupert Murdoch`s sleazy media circus than they think.
Long before Murdoch planted his propaganda machine on our shores American journalism had been corrupted by a big-box culture that had already ravaged its cities and towns and incited ideological riots to distract the public from the decline of vigilant, responsible local journalism.
The conglomeration of the press institutionalized a bottom-line obsession that broke down traditional barriers between newsrooms and business offices, conferring influence on advertisers that they had only dreamed of earlier.
While Spiro T. Agnew was preaching the false gospel of a liberal press, corporados were gobbling up the independent press, guaranteeing a hard swing to the political right and its trickle-down economics scam.
Consider that the press:
- day after day fails to follow the money trails that would show us who profits from our wars;
- shirks responsibility for Americans` widespread ignorance about the true nature of American taxation compared to other advanced nations;
- fails to instill in the public mind the undisputed fact that American health care is inferior to that of thirty-six other advanced nations "and more costly;
- failed year after year to probe the impending sub-prime mortgage crisis that has torn up the world`s economies because it was a major beneficiary of advertising revenues from predatory lenders, the very same reason the press fails to call war profiteers to an accounting;
- is a major cause of endemic local government corruption because media conglomerates have decimated local newsrooms and supplanted news with canned trivia;
- fails daily to instill in the public mind the effects of gerrymandering and anti-voter legislation on electoral outcomes;
- takes no responsibility for challenging the lies and misrepresentations of politicians;
- inflames our differences by bringing to a fever pitch mere blather about ideological differences;
- cannot to this day get at the true costs of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars;
- consistently fails to explain the impact of Shia-Sunni differences on events in the Muslim world;
- has abandoned hometown journalism in spite of ample historic reason to believe all government is ultimately local and all corruption starts at home;
- reports news as a bombardment of developments, refusing to accept responsibility for putting news in context, for holding out the big picture to the public.
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The American press was overwhelmingly conservative when Agnew preached his liberal press scare, seizing on the existence of the few American news organizations that were moderate if not liberal. Murdoch`s brand of scandal, trivia and jingoism was a good fit with a big box ethos that was ravaging small business, including our independent local press.
In Great Britain, where he has operated as a kind of Machiavelli, influencing events more and more overtly, there existed a long tradition of scandal-mongering, but until the 1970s the American press had been more sedate.
Rupert Murdoch is about power, not information. His minions have no faith that a decently informed public will make the right decisions because they believe his are the only right opinions. Bad as that is, it`s hardly the typhus of American journalism. Our press has lost its hundreds of voices to a few. It is now, by and large, owned by people who don`t give a damn about an informed electorate for the simple reason that an informed electorate is a threat to its business interests. It is now the voice of Wall Street swindlers masquerading as the independent and diverse press it once was.
All Murdoch`s machinations (and the fear of British politicians that their peccadilloes and indiscretions will now be exposed) have accomplished so far is to suggest to us that we ought to contemplate how sick our press is and how sick we are of it.
Djelloul Marbrook is a retired newspaperman. His second book of poems, Brushstrokes and Glances, was published by Deerbrook Editions on December 20, 2010. His first book of poems, Far From Algiers, won the Stan and Tom Wick Poetry Prize from Kent State University in 2007 and was published in 2008. It won the International Book Award in 2010. His novella, Artemisia`s Wolf, will be published by Prakash Books of India in December. His novella, Saraceno, was recently published as an e-book. His story, Artists Hill, adapted from the second novel of an unpublished trilogy, won the Literal LattÃ© first prize in fiction in 2008. The pioneering e-book publisher, Online Originals (UK), published his novella, Alice MIller`s Room, in 1999.
Del`s book, Far From Algiers: http://upress.kent.edu/books/Marbrook_D.htm
New review of Far from Algiers: http://www.rattle.com/blog/2009/05/far-from-algiers-by-djelloul-marbrook/
Artists Hill, Literal LattÃ©`s fiction first prize: http://www.literal-latte.com/author/djelloulmarbrook/
His blog: http://www.djelloulmarbrook.com
His mother`s art: http://www.juanitaguccione.com
His aunt`s art: http://www.irenericepereira.com