Mainstream Media’s Abject Failure as a Pillar of Democracy

The breakdown of democracy begins with a misinformed public. When society’s watchdog – journalism – becomes a willing participant in the camp of powerful, wealthy people, then the choices we make are no longer truly democratic, but merely reflections of a narrative controlled by the sources of power and wealth.

corpownedmedia

 

The critical thinking skills needed to prevent being duped by special interests are sorely missing from an electorate that too often votes for candidates who have been hand-picked by a plutocracy. These candidates are then put into positions of authority that determine public policy; policies that no longer seem to benefit the public that helped them win their office. Instead, they are diverging more and more from a road map laid out in the document that was intended to “form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity.”

By funding certain groups who have extremely narrow views, this document has been used by the plutocracy to skewer the open-ended strategy the founding fathers had in mind. Knowing that they fell short (at least those from the non-slave holding states) of living up to the ideals expressed in Jefferson’s Declaration that “all men are created equal”, the men who framed our Constitution had hoped future generations would “form a more perfect union” by ending slavery. Establishing justice has also not been achieved to any level of perfection especially when one notices how our prisons are filled primarily with poor minorities as wealthy white men are able to avoid any incarceration for causing the collapse of our economic system.

The representative form of government we wound up with at the close of the Constitutional Convention in 1787 was not intended to be controlled by powerful wealthy interests. Men like Madison, Washington, Mason, Randolph, Franklin, Hamilton, James Wilson and Gouverneur Morris, who were part of this delegation had hopes that an informed public would make choices that enabled judicious and fair treatment of all people, not only in their time but well into the future.

They knew that this could not occur by itself and would rely on the journalists of their day and the educators to help voters make the best choices they could that would promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to their posterity. Few probably realized then how great the concentration of wealth would develop in this country that would allow a handful of people to essentially control the voice of the media and even that of higher education, influencing the public’s direction when they entered the voting booth.

Though there are numerous examples of how the press has failed in its role as the public’s watchdog over the years, there are three I want to cite that currently hold center stage.

  • The solvency of Social Security

  • The conflict in Ukraine

  • Man-made global warming

In each one of these examples the public is being played by a small group of people who feel they are more capable of making decisions that affect our future than “we the people”, not as representatives outlined in our Constitution but as free market capitalist who want to secure their own personal self-interest.

“As far as I’m concerned, it’s a damn shame that a field as potentially dynamic and vital as journalism should be overrun with dullards, bums and hacks, hag-ridden with myopia, apathy and complacence, and generally stuck in a bog of stagnant mediocrity” – Hunter S. Thompson

 

The Solvency of Social Security

wherethemoneyis  Since its inception back in 1935 the Social Security Trust fund has ably met the goals it was established to do – provide a modicum of financial security for people whose resources during their work lives were insufficient to save adequately for retirement and to deal with unforeseen issues beyond their control

The plan was and is simple enough. Remove a small amount from each workers paycheck (your FICA deductions) and an equal share from their employers and put it in a trust fund to be distributed at a later date when conditions sometimes beyond their control remove them from the workforce.

It’s a system that pays for itself and is currently solvent with approximately $2.6 trillion in treasury IOU’s. According to Joe Firestone, Ph.D., Managing Director, CEO of the Knowledge Management Consortium International (KMCI), and Director of KMCI’s CKIM Certificate program, these IOUs “accumulated because Treasury has used FICA collections to ‘pay for’ other Federal spending since 1983, when the Government began to collect more from workers and employers than was paid out to beneficiaries. The accumulated IOUs, projected interest on them, and future FICA collections are projected as being enough to “cover” 100% of SS benefits until 2033, and then 75% of benefits thereafter. 100% of benefits could be “covered” from 2033 on, if the payroll tax cap on Social Security were to be removed.”

But people like billionaire Pete Peterson and his “Fix the Debt” movement falsely claim that these IOU’s are little more than part of a growing deficit. By mischaracterizing these IOU’s they have convinced too many young people today like Abby Hunstman that “greedy geezers” of the boomer generation are robbing them of income today and will leave the trust fund empty when their time comes to cash in.

It’s a false meme that is repeated over and over in the mainstream media (MSM), despite the facts to the contrary. But even if this were true there are easy and harmless ways to make sure the Social Security Trust funds remains 100% solvent well into the next century as Firestone points out in his essay along with similar comments from qualified others like Dean Baker over at the Center for Economic and Policy Research and Mark Karlin at BuzzFlash.com.

 

The Conflict in Ukraine

ukraineriots  To hear it on the MSM you would think Russian president Vladimir Putin is channeling former Russian dictator Joseph Stalin. What we hear primarily from the major TV networks in this country is that Putin is preventing Ukrainians from separating themselves from the Russian yoke. The truth is not so pernicious.

The corporate-owned media get their talking points on this foreign policy issue from the neoconservative holdovers in the State Department originally installed by the Bush/Cheney administration. As a result there is an equal share of factual distortion about events in Ukraine as there are omissions by the MSM.

Investigative reporter Robert Parry, formerly with The Associated Press and Newsweek tells us “Official Washington is marching in lockstep just as it did in 2002-03 when it enforced the misguided consensus on Iraq’s WMD. The latest case is Ukraine where Russian President Vladimir Putin is accused of committing ‘aggression’ to expand Russian territory at the expense of noble ‘democratic’ reformers in Kiev.”

Not only is this the dominant storyline in the U.S. media; it is virtually the only narrative permitted in the mainstream press. But the real narrative is that the United States and the European Union provoked this crisis by trying to take Ukraine out of its traditional sphere of influence, Russia, and put it in to a new association with the EU.
While there’s nothing inherently wrong with Ukraine joining with the EU or staying with Russia (or a combination of the two) – depending on the will of the people and their elected representatives – this latest U.S./EU plan was motivated, at least in part, by hostility toward Russia.”     SOURCE

Putin is no virtuous man but there is little real evidence that he is making a land grab to revive the old Soviet Union as many in the the Western media are indicating.  And Russian troops have only entered the Crimea in south Ukraine at the request of the predominantly ethnically Russian people living there.  This occurred only after Ukraine President Viktor Yanukovych, himself a corrupt oligarch, was run out of Kiev by right-wing militias, supported by Yulia Tymoshenko, who is a corrupt oligarch in her own right, then staged a coup and made it look like a people’s revolution.

Tymoshenko has ties with American and European special interests who were offended when Yanukovych chose Russia’s offer of $15 billion in aid late last year, with no burdensome strings attached, over the EU and the IMF’s offer of $4 billion tied to an austerity program that would worsen economic conditions for most Ukrainian people.

Yulia Tymoshenko, who is a corrupt oligarch in her own right – See more at: http://www.thepolemicist.net/2014/03/charge-of-right-brigade-ukraine-and.html#sthash.nLFTL8OV.dpuf
Yulia Tymoshenko, who is a corrupt oligarch in her own right – See more at: http://www.thepolemicist.net/2014/03/charge-of-right-brigade-ukraine-and.html#sthash.nLFTL8OV.dpuf
Yulia Tymoshenko, who is a corrupt oligarch in her own right – See more at: http://www.thepolemicist.net/2014/03/charge-of-right-brigade-ukraine-and.html#sthash.nLFTL8OV.dpuf, who staged a coup and made it look like a people’s revolution. The American and European special interests were offended when Yanukovych chose Russia’s offer of $15 billion in aid late last year, with no strings attached, over the EU and the IMF’s offer of $4 billion tied to an austerity program that would worsen economic conditions for most Ukrainian people

The average American today who has bothered to follow this story as presented on the major TV networks is essentially getting the narrative fostered by neoconservatives who plotted long ago to create an American empire outlined in their Project for the New American Century (PNAC).  The PNAC went underground after Vice president Dick Cheney’s connection to it in 2003 was exposed, along with some of the other masterminds behind regime change in the Mideast such as Paul Wolfowitz, Richard Perle and Donald Kagan.

RELATED ARTICLE: Ready for WWIII?

 

Man-made global warming

climatedenier  I save the worst for last simply because it is the most devious and long-term assault of all the distortions that corporate America has engaged in and likely could wound up being the most harmful to the entire human race. The people who participate in this dangerous hoax are those who likely took their marching orders from former Supreme Court Justice Lewis Powell, stirred by a call to arms in his famous manifesto sent out in 1971 to reclaim, as he saw it, the America he felt was being lost to men of his “stature”.

Organized climate deniers today are remnants from the deniers who worked for the tobacco industry in their lawsuit claiming the ill-affects of cigarettes and the second-hand smoke it generated. One-time prominent scientist Frederick Seitz along with other fervent anti-communists who idealized free market capitalism formed the George C. Marshall think tank back in the 1980’s to support Ronald Reagan’s SDI program. It served to attack most other scientists who didn’t share Seitz zeal to bomb communism into oblivion. When the Berlin Wall fell in 1989 Seitz took his coterie of doubt-casters to help the tobacco industry and when that mission failed he was then hired by the fossil fuel industry.

As a paid consultant by the tobacco industry Seitz and his followers had learned the lesson well fostered by the tobacco industry which was spelled out in a 1969 memo entitled “Smoking and Health Proposal”

“Doubt is our product since it is the best means of competing with the “body of fact” that exists in the mind of the general public.” SOURCE

Of all the papers put out by the George C. Marshall Institute from people like Seitz, Robert Jastrow and Dr. Willie Soon, none had been peer-reviewed and all had used talking points that on the surface looked impressive but had already been debunked by the consensus of climate scientists

Yet the American media has essentially disregarded this fact and wound up creating a false equivalent with the claims of climate deniers, giving the public the misguided impression that there was in fact no resolution amongst the climate science community that “warming of the climate system is unequivocal, and that most of the increase in globally observed temperatures since the mid 20th century was (and still is) very likely (90% probable) due to the observed increase in anthropogenic greenhouse gas concentrations”, as stated in the 2007 IPCC report.

One example of how the media became dupes for the climate denier campaign occurred back in 2003 when a paid consultant for the GOP, Frank Luntz, sent out a memo advising GOP candidates to avoid the term “global warming”.

The phrase “global warming” should be abandoned in favor of “climate change”, Mr Luntz says, and the party should describe its policies as “conservationist” instead of “environmentalist”, because “most people” think environmentalists are “extremists” who indulge in “some pretty bizarre behavior… that turns off many voters”.    SOURCE

Luntz was aware that the IPCC 3rd assessment report in 2001 had confirmed a consensus among climate scientists who believed that “most of the observed warming over the last 50 years was due to the increase in greenhouse gas concentrations”. Luntz claimed in his memo that voters were ignorant of this confidence among climate scientists so it was suggested that the GOP candidates exploit this voter weakness.

“Voters believe that there is no consensus about global warming within the scientific community. Should the public come to believe that the scientific issues are settled, their views about global warming will change accordingly. Therefore, you need to continue to make the lack of scientific certainty a primary issue in the debate.”

The voters were indeed ignorant about the climate science and the consensus among those who studied this phenomena because with the aid of the MSM, people like Luntz, Jastrow and Seitz had been feeding them a steady diet of bullshit.

In their book, Merchants of Doubt: How a Handful of Scientists Obscured the Truth on Issues from Tobacco Smoke to Global Warming, Naomi Oreskes and Erik Conway have done a thorough job of tracking and documenting the rise of the climate denier movement. In it they give the basis as to why such prominent scientist like Seitz, Jastrow, Marshall Nirenberg and the father of the hydrogen bomb, Edward Teller, along with Seitz’s brother Russell, were led to work for the fossil fuel industry and prevent government from intervening on behalf of the American public to slow the rate of CO2 into our atmosphere. A worsening condition that is already effecting dramatic climate change scenarios not seen on such scale since well before the advent of the industrial revolution.

“One of the great heroes of the American right of the late twentieth century was neoliberal Milton Friedman. In his most famous work, Capitalism and Freedom, Friedman argued (as its title suggests) that capitalism and freedom go hand in hand – that there can be no freedom without capitalism and no capitalism without freedom. So defense of one was defense of the other. It was as simple – and as fundamental – as that. These men, [Seitz, et al] committed as they were to freedom – liberty as they understood it, and viewing themselves as the guardians of it – were therefore also committed capitalists. But their scientific colleagues were increasingly finding evidence that capitalism was failing in a crucial respect: it was failing to protect the natural environment upon which all life – free or not – ultimately depends.
Working scientists were finding more and more evidence that industrial emissions were causing widespread damage to human and ecosystem health. The free market was causing problems – unintended consequences – that the free market did not know how to solve. The government had a potential remedy – regulation – but that flew in the face of the capitalist ideal. It’s not surprising, then, that Russell Seitz’s broadsides against science were promoted in business-oriented journals, or that Jastrow’s early defense of SDI was published in Commentary (a principle voice of neoconservatism) and in the Wall Street Journal. Indeed, in 1986, the Wall Street Journal published a twenty-four-hundred-word version of Seitz’s attack on science – on page 1. If science took the side of regulation – or even gave evidence to support the idea that regulation might be needed to protect the life on earth – then science, the very thing that Jastrow, Nirenberg, Teller and Frederick Seitz had spent their working careers to build up, would now have to be torn down.” emphasis mine

tencorporatecommandments

A free press is essential to expose the facts, without prejudice or preference, of anyone – Democrat or Republican, rich or poor, religious or non-religious – whose actions and decisions can affect the lives of everyday men, women and children.  The failure of modern journalism however, in all of its various forms, would be a big disappointment to that early American generation who gave special status to a free press, believing that their efforts would keep politicians honest and enable voters to choose wisely. And though some even feared the corrupting influence of wealthy special interests, few could have imagined that the fourth estate that helped sustain their own drive to freedom would allow itself to be unduly influenced by the very forces they opposed in their American Revolution – a wealthy aristocracy.

 

“The lowest form of popular culture – lack of information, misinformation, disinformation and a contempt for the truth or the reality of most people’s lives -has overrun real journalism. Today, ordinary Americans are being stuffed with garbage.” – Carl Bernstein

 

RELATED ARTICLE:

The Republican Plan to Invalidate Scientific Research

Advertisements

13 responses to “Mainstream Media’s Abject Failure as a Pillar of Democracy

  1. Well done Larry. That commie Gramsci, saw this coming in the 1920’s…..he said then that the media would be driving the country and its attitudes and beliefs……..and then we have entertainment companies that own all the media, major media….and that has lead to them controlling all thought…..you are right this is NOT what the majority of the Founders had in mind…..

    • Truly we have known for decades, even centuries as capitalism was rising that when wealth became concentrated in the hands of a few would necessarily revert back to a feudal system The free market and it’s alleged invisible hand are deceptions that keeps people’s focus away from human greed that manipulates the market. And now that wealthy special interests own most of the media outlets, their message will be louder and more frequent.

  2. You should point out that Lewis Powell got his seat on the Supreme Court because of the Powell Memo, the plan that laid out the now 40 year-old class war by conservatives including the above. The Republicans were so grateful, you see.

  3. I wish I could agree with you on much of this, but sorry, no. The problem with calling Social Security a trust fund, and the same issue with Medicare, is that it leads to the prevalent assumption that it’s a pre-paid program. That is, you get out out you paid in, plus interest. That isn’t the case, they were originally designed as “pay as you go,” where the FICA taxes paid for current benefits. The “fix” in the 80’s was to increase the taxes and stash the extra so that when the boomers retired, the extra would cover the decline in tax collections. There are fixes as you mentioned, but given the screams every time any of them gets mentioned – it’s not likely to happen even with the mainstream media on board.

    In terms of the Ukraine, the “majority Russian population” in Crimea only exists because Stalin relocated all the native population, and replaced them. When you have all your armed forces “protecting” things suddenly, it’s amazing at how fast it can turn into “a popular mandate.” I also would point out that Yanukovich wasn’t exactly … clean and upstanding. What this was was a battle between two oligarchies, and if you think there were no strings attached to the Russian “aid,” well, it’s April Fools Day.

    • ”The problem with calling Social Security a trust fund, and the same issue with Medicare, is that it leads to the prevalent assumption that it’s a pre-paid program. That is, you get out out you paid in, plus interest. That isn’t the case, they were originally designed as “pay as you go,” where the FICA taxes paid for current benefits.”

      We’re going to have to agree to disagree on this Norbrook. I deliberately didn’t mention Medicare because it does have some issues but to presume either of these were intended to pay back what people put in to them was never a given that I have read from people who see SS as a trust fund. I sincerely hope too that you are not on the side of those who view these two programs as Ponzi schemes.

      Yes Yanukovich was an oligarch too but for the West to pretend this uprising is a freedom movement is seriously lacking the hard evidence. Read Robert Parry’s account of events Nor brook along with this from the Polemicists blog and tell me what you think they got wrong.

      Keep in mind that though some of the details of my post can be debated, the main point was to illustrate how much the MSM has sided with those views being promoted by plutocrats.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s