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As the FCC deregulated TV and radio outfits, the newspaper-broadcast cross-ownership prohibitions remained. But that has been changing. The FCC -- where, ominously, Colin Powell's son Michael is Bush's capo -- is considering dropping the final restraints on media consolidation. This has become the holy grail of Big Media, whose lobbying and influence-buying rival that of any industry in sleaze.
Bill Kovach, ex-editor of the AJC (before he dared suggest doing great journalism), now heads the Committee of Concerned Journalists. He warned last month: "The federal government is moving toward the most sweeping change ever in the rules that govern ownership of the American news media. This shift could reduce the independence of the news media and the ability of Americans to take part in public debate."
Scuttling the cross-ownership ban will see the end of competition at a local level. One boss will dictate each city's content in the daily newspaper, the major TV stations, the billboards, the major website -- and quite possibly, your alternative weekly. Meanwhile, on the national (and world) scene, fewer and fewer juggernaut companies will control content, programming and distribution of both entertainment and "news" (Flash! Read, see, click on to the latest about Michael Jackson!).
The only loser will be: you.
On Feb. 9, the main headline on the AJC's front page was "Majority supports Iraq war, poll says." That wasn't exactly the case. For a start, the pollster, Zogby America, has a nasty reputation for producing surveys that "reveal" what the client is pushing -- context not provided to AJC readers.
That context explains how convoluted one has to be to get the results stated in the headline. Under almost any likely condition -- people getting killed, for example, something not unheard of with war -- the majority doesn't support the war.
Every day, the AJC's news pages are loaded with uncritical war boosterism -- from never ever giving an honest critique to the Bush, Cheney, Powell & Co.'s endless progression of deceptions, distortions and scare tactics (did you buy your duct tape yet?) to barely blinking at the transformation of this democracy into an empire.
That's an important thought. Empires are not built by democracies. A free, aggressive and competitive press is anathema to authoritarian (we're almost there) and totalitarian (the next stop is in sight) governments. Ergo, if you want to go empire, you've got to control the press.
- Will you see space devoted to debunking the "Osama loves Saddam" tape (hint: It says the opposite of what the Bushies claim)?
- Although 10 million to 12 million anti-war protesters last weekend in America and Europe forced the media to acknowledge the stunning swell of public opinion, did you read in the AJC news articles any coherent explanation of the reason so many oppose the imminent slaughter?
- Did the intellectual leaders of the anti-war movement garner 1 percent of the media space compared to the newspapers' and networks' open-door policy toward the War Party?
- Did you read any analysis of the dissonance between the nations that supposedly "support" U.S. policy and the fact that 70 percent to more than 90 percent of those countries' population oppose war (hint to the daily press: The Bush junta bribed, threatened and blackmailed governments).
- And will the Bush destruction of our relationship with European allies, the advent of America as the world's great rogue state, get a tough look?
The big challenge for the daily is to run a sufficient number of military puff pieces to ensure that its reporters are "embedded" with our troops -- which means you will get only the news the government wants you to get. (Please, oh please, have Ron Martz pen one more syrupy story, hot from the Pentagon flacks, on how happy our soldiers are as they prepare for battle. And never suggest that the way to really support our boys and girls in uniform is to bring them home.)
Meanwhile, ex-editor Kovach notes, you're not going to read much on the Bush administration's turbo charging the media monopolies via the FCC deregulation. For Cox and the other communications heavyweights, there's a pile of cash at stake. If you figure out what's happening, it could cost the press magnates some major money.
The real story is that Anne Cox Chambers' fortune dwindled by $1.8 billion last year, according to Forbes (note: not reported by the AJC). If it takes a little pandering to Bush's war machine to get FCC deregulation, then that's what Cox will do to rebuild its matron's wealth.
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