Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Edward Snowden and the Death Agony of the Mainstream Media

Of all the stories to have consumed the attention of the mainstream press, this one, of a guy revealing what we should have known all along, that the government apparently has the same access to information about who we contact, what websites we visit, that is enjoyed without complaint by businesses around the world, is a strange one.  And the vituperative attacks against this one guy (in preference to dealing with the real issues) are, to say the least, out of proportion to the crime.  Why?  What has led the media all across the political spectrum to coalesce in this onslaught?

I think that, to understand this, we have to go back in time, to the days of the sainted Ronnie Reagan and his great project, deregulation-in this case, deregulation of the press.  Before Reagan, over three quarters of media outlets were owned by families or small corporations.  After Reagan's "reforms" had run their course, over 80% of the media ended up in the hands of major corporations.  Add to this Newt Gingrich's opening up of the broadcast media to foreign ownership, in return for a $4 million dollar bribe book advance from Rupert Murdoch, and you end up with media which recognize no journalistic responsibilities, but exist like all large corporations solely to enrich their owners.

This corporate domination of our media, turning news sources into more or less blatant propaganda channels, was not achieved easily, nor without great expenditure designed to keep the right sort of people running the country.

Unfortunately, as has so often happened in history, the unexpected intervened; in this case the internet.  As the years have gone by, more and more people, disgusted with what passes for news in the corporate controlled media, have gone online to get their information.  Now, needless to say to any reader of Wingnut Wrapup here at Green Eagle, much of this "information" is even worse than what you get at CNN or Fox News.  But that doesn't make any difference to the current owners of the mainstream media.  A reader or watcher lost is a blow to them, wherever that reader has turned for their information.

And here is what has the mainstream media so enraged about Edward Snowden. As far as they are concerned, it is their right to state what is news and what isn't- it is their right to set the national agenda. They paid massively for this privilege and they are going to protect it from any outsider like Mr. Snowden, who dares to interfere with their decisions about what will be on the national agenda. They feel their control of information- their only stock in trade, really- slipping out of their grasp, and with it, their consumers;  and it is here that they are taking their stand.

A particularly sad instance of this is the curious case of Glenn Greenwald.  Formerly a highly respected internet writer, Greenwald recently departed to work for a print publication- the Guardian.  Thus, he made the massive mistake of not only changing horses in midstream, but of changing from the winning horse to the losing horse.  He has now made a spectacle of himself defending control of information, and I doubt that he will ever recover from this disgrace, any more than Judith Miller ever recovered from hers..

Anyway, here's the story.  The mainstream press sold itself to big business over the last few decades.  Like that other great national institution that did the same, the Republican party, they sealed their doom in the process.  Now, they are reduced to the same fate as the Republicans: selling deceit, rigging the game, trying to bully the public into letting them continue to run things.  It isn't working out so well for the Republicans, and it won't work out so well for them either.  And the more they continue with their present attitude that no one but themselves has a right to say what is news and what isn't, the sooner that day will come.

If you want to know where all of this ends, I think you can look at the record companies- if you can find them any more.  Here's the new boss, and he's not the same as the old boss.


Anonymous said...

A wonderful piece, Mr. Eagle.

(O)CT(O)PUS said...

Couldn't agree more!