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Stuffing our minds with garbage 

Cox censors news it doesn't want you to get

"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, ex-Washington Post Watergate reporter

You were dumbed down and stuffed with garbage last week by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, which is acting along with its Cox masters as a fifth column on behalf of one of the Bush administration's many forays against democracy.

That's significant because, on June 2, the Federal Communications Commission will undoubtedly vote to remove almost all restraints on media monopolies. With the FCC's blessing, Cox's cash registers will cha-ching billions of dollars in windfall profits following the latest pirating of the public's airwaves. But you won't learn that by reading the AJC, which seems to have different rules for its Coxopoly than it does for other businesses.

Here are the details on last week's tawdry little Cox Misadventure: An online political activist group, MoveOn.org, had purchased TV air time for 10 spots a day in 23 cities, including Phoenix, where one tentacle of the Atlanta media conglomerate, Cox Communications, owns the cable franchise.

MoveOn's spots are a harsh, but completely fair, scolding aimed at Bush's planned tax cuts. Those cuts will overwhelmingly benefit the rich, and will add to Bush's record-breaking deficits; that debt will have to be paid off by your children and grandchildren.

The MoveOn commercials feature a re-enactment of a blood drive last month in Portland, Ore., where parents lined up to open their veins to help pay for disastrously underfunded schools. The ads state: "Bush wants to cut $9 billion from education to pay for more tax cuts for the rich. Is this the America we want to live in?"

Keep in mind that the media giants, to one degree or another, are busily lobbying and pandering to the Bush regime to ensure nothing derails the FCC decision. Cox is one of the most slavish in, for example, giving a pleasant spin to Bush's war. Also, the outfit is one of the most aggressive and free-spending in lobbying Congress and the administration, not that Cox ever acknowledges its influence peddling in its own media. (See www.publicintegrity.org/ dtaweb/downloads/otr.pdf for the full story on what Big Media doesn't tell you about its lobbying and legislative agendas.)

Apparently, Cox Communications execs got faint at the idea of such a pointed criticism of Bush -- and soooo close to the FCC decision. Thus, they yanked the ads, claiming they "were in poor taste" and "too controversial." Please. That's just plain rubbish from a company that wallowed during the last election in the megabucks it charged for some of the slimiest political advertising in history.

Eventually, after the public and the press got wind of Cox's censorship, the commercials did run. But the Coxites now have plausible deniability when begging the government's favor. "Hey, we tried to keep the public ignorant," they can tell the administration.

The tiff merited headlines across the nation. Associated Press flashed the news over the wires. Daily newspapers from Phoenix to Miami ran stories, as did trade publications.

Meanwhile, Cox Communications was holding its annual shareholders' meeting in Atlanta. The AJC reported on mind-numbing, minor news about the meeting, of interest to absolutely no one but the handful who own Cox stock. Somehow, the newspaper entirely forgot to mention a far sexier Cox Communications story: the attempt to censor the MoveOn commercials.

The Coxopoly didn't want you to know.

An article on the front of the AJC's May 13 business section finally let its readers know -- sort of -- what CL readers have known for weeks. It was headlined "Looser media rules drafted/Landmark plan by FCC staff would let companies add to television holdings significantly," and it related the FCC's plans to hand its deregulatory gift to the media monopolies.

The story was a pick-up from The New York Times. That's OK -- although curious because Cox's Washington bureau does have a reporter who covers the FCC. The Times story was slightly truncated; largely technical details were trimmed from the bottom.

Plus, one -- and only one -- sentence was excised from the top part of the article. That sentence read: "Others, like the Tribune Company and the Gannett Company, might seek to acquire broadcasters or newspapers in cities where they already have a presence."

Hmmmm. Why that sentence?

Prior to the Tribune-Gannett sentence, the Times story mentions some of the companies, such as Rupert Murdoch's News Corp., that might rapidly expand after the FCC finishes crafting its new media landscape. Following the sentence, the Times comments that media brokers are already revving the engines for a series of gargantuan acquisitions and mergers.

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