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9/25/04


 

CHARADE

By David Podvin

In the wake of the Federal Communications Commission fining Viacom more than five hundred thousand dollars for broadcasting a glimpse of Janet Jackson’s socially corrosive right nipple, Viacom Chairman Sumner Redstone has endorsed George W. Bush for president. “From a Viacom standpoint, the election of a Republican administration is a better deal,” said Redstone. “Because the Republican administration has stood for many things we believe in, deregulation and so on. The Democrats are not bad people… but from a Viacom standpoint, we believe the election of a Republican administration is better for our company."

The corporate media is so closely allied with Bush that the occasional FCC fine or public rebuke constitutes nothing more than a meaningless charade. There is little practical significance to a huge conglomerate being penalized a half-million dollars, especially when literally billions of dollars will be gained if Bush has another four years during which to deregulate further the broadcasting industry. From Redstone’s perspective, the fine is just a nominal cost of doing business.

The Redstone announcement follows by several months the proclamation by Disney/ABC honcho Michael Eisner that his company would not distribute Michael Moore’s Fahrenheit 9/11 out of concern that doing so would alienate Disney’s benefactors in the Bush family. Earlier this year, Chairman Rupert Murdoch of News Corp/Fox publicly endorsed Bush as the man who is best for America and Murdoch’s bank account, not necessarily in that order. Jeffrey Immelt, who runs General Electric/NBC, is also a Bush supporter. The “liberal television media” is strictly red state territory: at all four major networks, the guys who sign the paychecks support Bush, and their journalistic employees are keenly aware of this fact.

Redstone’s endorsement destroys the conservative theory that Dan Rather and CBS were out to get Bush by highlighting his insubordination in the National Guard. When viewing the machinations of amoral manipulators, it is important to focus on the result instead of fixating on the process. The result of the CBS News investigation was to inoculate Bush from further criticism of his absence without leave in Alabama, thereby strengthening his political position.

More importantly, CBS News has announced that as a result of the mishandled National Guard story, it is postponing a verified report that reveals Bush was brandishing phony documents when he claimed Iraq had tried to buy a lightly processed form of Nigerian weapons-grade uranium known as yellowcake. This is the story that could have really hurt Bush because it is tangible proof that the American people were deceived into supporting the invasion of Iraq, but now the facts will be withheld until after the election.

The bungled National Guard report and the suppressed yellowcake story have provided a double boost for Bush’s electoral chances. Redstone’s endorsement confirms that helping Bush stay in office is exactly what he desires, and he is the man who pays the salaries of the very people who have just given this windfall to the former Texas governor.

It is no coincidence that after years of obsessing about the nonexistent scandals of a president who opposed further media deregulation, the corporate press has repeatedly botched reporting about the real scandals of a president who has lavished big media with lucrative deregulation and tax cuts. The broadcast networks and major metropolitan newspapers just cannot get their acts together when it comes to reporting about the California energy plunder or the sweetheart deals with campaign contributors or any of the other iniquities that have emanated from the Bush kleptocracy.

Absent the huge monetary gains provided by Bush’s media deregulation, none of the broadcast networks would currently be profitable. Without the federal subsidies from the Bush administration for its Kaplan, Inc., subsidiary, the Washington Post would be a money-losing operation. The New York Times wants to expand its business in broadcasting, and Bush is the only presidential candidate advocating the necessary rule changes. The Tribune Corporation owes its growth to Bush regulatory policies, as does radio powerhouse Clear Channel Communications.

These organizations are teeming with experienced professional journalists, but they have been unable to report competently about a single Bush scandal. Even on those rare occasions when someone has actually hand-delivered incriminating information about Bush to them, the mainstream media has consistently screwed up the story.

Journalists have had Bush dead to rights several times, including catching him in multiple lies about his association with Enron and his whopper for the ages regarding weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Repeatedly, reporters have served the financial ends of the media conglomerates by letting Bush off the hook. There has been a seemingly improbable series of blunders, the most outrageous of which was the “misinterpretation” of the data from the major media’s own Consortium study that confirmed Bush had stolen the 2000 election but was reported to the public as proving exactly the opposite.

And then there is the matter of Halliburton, which may be the most egregious example of a government kickback to private industry that has ever existed. While serving in the executive branch, Dick Cheney has received two million dollars from the company he used to run, and in return Halliburton has been awarded seven billion taxpayer dollars in the form of noncompetitive-bid contracts. This is a slam dunk story of brazen corruption for which there is ample documentation. Even so, the mainstream media continues to fumble and stumble with the facts, demonstrating a degree of haplessness that stands in stark contrast to the laser-like focus journalists applied to a tiny failed land deal in Whitewater, Arkansas.

The right wing is now whimpering that the Rather incident confirms the liberal bias of the news media but, as usual, conservatives have inverted reality. Given the subsequent political endorsement by Redstone, the comedy of errors at CBS confirms that the illicit alliance between George W. Bush and the communications conglomerates remains alive and well.

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