Sunday 27 December 2009
by: Peter Phillips and Mickey Huff, t r u t h o u t | Op-Ed While most progressive media activists do not believe in some omnipotent conspiracy, an overwhelming portion of NCMR participants do believe the leadership class in the US is dominated by a neo-conservative group of some several hundred people who share a goal of asserting US military power worldwide. This Global Dominance Group (GDM) continues under both Republican and Democratic rule. In cooperation with major military contractors, the corporate media, and conservative foundations, the GDM has become a powerful long-term force in military unilateralism and US political processes.
The Global Dominance Group and Information Control
A long thread of sociological research documents the existence of a dominant ruling class in the US, which sets policy and determines national political priorities. C. Wright Mills, in his 1956 book The Power Elite, documented how World War II solidified a trinity of power in the US that comprised corporate, military and government elites in a centralized power structure working in unison through “higher circles” of contact and agreement.[vi] This power has grown through the Cold War and, after 9/11, the Global War on Terror.
At present, the global dominance agenda includes penetration into the boardrooms of the corporate media in the US. Only 118 people comprise the membership on the boards of director of the ten big media giants. These 118 individuals in turn sit on the corporate boards of 288 national and international corporations. Four of the top 10 media corporations share board director positions with the major defense contractors including:
William Kennard: New York Times, Carlyle Group
Douglas Warner III, GE (NBC), Bechtel
John Bryson: Disney (ABC), Boeing
Alwyn Lewis: Disney (ABC), Halliburton
Douglas McCorkindale: Gannett, Lockheed-Martin.
Given an interlocked media network of connections with defense and other economic sectors, big media in the United States effectively represent the interests of corporate America. Media critic and historian Norman Solomon described the close financial and social links between the boards of large media-related corporations and Washington’s foreign-policy establishment: “One way or another, a military-industrial complex now extends to much of corporate media.”[vii] The Homeland Security Act Title II Section 201(d)(5) provides an example of the interlocked military-industrial-media complex. This Act specifically asks the directorate to “develop a comprehensive plan for securing the key resources and critical infrastructure of the United States including information technology and telecommunications systems (including satellites) emergency preparedness communications systems.”
The media elite, a key component of the Higher Circle Policy Elite in the US, are the watchdogs of acceptable ideological messages, the controllers of news and information content, and the decision makers regarding media resources. Their goal is to create symbiotic global news distribution in a deliberate attempt to control the news and information available to society. The two most prominent methods used to accomplish this task are censorship and propaganda.
Sometimes the sensationalist and narrow media coverage of news is blamed upon the need to meet a low level of public taste and thereby capture the eyes of a sufficient market to lure advertisers and to make a profit. But another goal of cornering the marketplace on what news and views will be aired is also prominent. Billionaire Rupert Murdoch loses $50 million a year on the NY Post, billionaire Richard Mellon Scaife loses $2 to $3 million a year on the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, billionaire Philip Anschutz loses around $5 million a year on The Weekly Standard, and billionaire Sun Myung Moon has lost $2 to $3 billion on The Washington Times. The losses in supporting conservative media are part of a strategy of ideological control. They also buy bulk quantities of ultra-conservative books bringing them to the top of the NY Times bestseller list and then give away copies to “subscribers” to their websites and publications. They fund conservative “think tanks” like Heritage and Cato with hundreds of millions of dollars a year. All this buys them respectability and a megaphone. Even though William Kristol’s publication, the Standard, is a money-loser, his association with it has often gotten him on TV talk shows and a column with The New York Times. Sponsorships of groups like Grover Norquist’s anti-tax “Americans for Tax Reform” regularly get people like him front-and-center in any debate on taxation in the United States. This has contributed to extensive tax cuts for the wealthy and the most unfair tax laws of any industrialized country – all found acceptable by a public relying upon sound-bites about the dangers of ‘big government.’ Hence media corporation officials and others in the health care, energy and weapons industries remain wealthier than ordinary people can imagine. Their expenditures for molding opinion are better understood as investments in a conservative public ideology[viii]
Modern Media Censorship and Propaganda
A broader definition of contemporary censorship needs to include any interference, deliberate or not, with the free flow of vital news information to the public. Modern censorship can be seen as the subtle yet constant and sophisticated manipulation of reality in our mass media outlets. On a daily basis, censorship refers to the intentional non-inclusion of a news story – or piece of a news story – based on anything other than a desire to tell the truth. Such manipulation can take the form of political pressure (from government officials and powerful individuals), economic pressure (from advertisers and funders), and legal pressure (the threat of lawsuits from deep-pocket individuals, corporations, and institutions). or threats to reduce future access to governmental and corporate sources of news. Following are a few examples of censorship and propaganda.
1. Omitted or Undercovered Stories- The failure of the corporate media to cover human consequences, like one million , mostly civilian deaths of Iraqis, reduces public response to the wars being conducted by the US. Even when activists do mobilize, the media coverage of anti-war demonstrations has been negligible and denigrating from the start. When journalists of the so-called free press ignore the anti-war movement, they serve the interests of their masters in the military media industrial complex.[ix]
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