One is hardly ever shocked anymore: that seems
to be the defining characteristic of modernity. Yet I got to experience that
rare sensation the other day when I read
this blog item on LewRockwell.com. Aha! I thought. So that's
why the MSNBCers are hailing the Big Bailout at the top of their lungs – their
parent company, General
Electric, also owns GE Capital, which was declared "too big to fail"
and given its bailout infusion the day after the election.
The timing of this announcement was fairly interesting, as noted
by conservative-libertarian columnist Jim Pinkerton. Pinkerton was rightly outraged
when, in response to MSNBC's Chris Matthews' comment that his job is to "make
this presidency work," he told a Fox News panel:
"Well, Matthews is entitled to his opinion, although if he wants
to run for the Senate in Pennsylvania in 2010 as has been widely reported
he should resign and not have a platform on the air.
"But I think that the overall culture of MSNBC was established when they
changed their slogan, post-election, to 'The Power of Change.' Now, that sounds
a little bit familiar to the Obama campaign 'Change We Can Believe In.' Maybe
that's not an accident.
"But of course, I think the big story here, I think it goes right to what
MSNBC's up to as a strategy, is the news that the FDIC, which is now following
election returns, is guaranteeing $139 billion of General Electric Capital
debt. That's General Electric Capital, as in General Electric, which is the
parent company of MSNBC, CNBC, NBC. Now, for a $139 billion guarantee, I'd
consider, I'd probably go more, I'd probably go all the way over to the Olbermann/Maddow
territory. $139 billion."
In answer to the question of why the current FDIC would reward MSNBC in this
way, Pinkerton suggests that the bureaucracy is looking to the future – or,
more accurately, its future – although he seems to back down a bit in
describing the corporate proprietors of MSNBC as "lucky." This falls
considerably short of outright bribery, but the sudden infusion of massive amounts
of tax dollars into corporate mega-entities does indeed have profound implications
for American journalism. In the age of bailouts,
the wall of separation between the corporate media and the government – never
that strong to begin with – is coming down, and this prospect is truly ominous.
I never fail to smile when I read contemptuous references in American news
outlets to the "state-controlled media" of, say, Russia
This from the same crowd whose news "reporting" in the run-up to the
invasion of Iraq might
have been written by someone in the Pentagon press office – and probably
was! With billions in bailout money pouring directly or indirectly into
the corporate "mainstream" media, only the thinnest pretense of independence
remains, with the more honest journalists like Matthews coming out of the closet,
so to speak, as shills for the government, or this government, at any
Forewarned is forearmed. The next time Matthews expresses an opinion about
anything this administration does, turn on your B.S.
Detector. Because if and when President Obama goes to war, against, say,
Iran, Chris Matthews is determined to "make it work."
So here we have the intersection of two very dangerous phenomena, which, in
combination, could prove deadly to our democracy and subversive in a way no
foreign conspiracy ever could be. All by itself, a love-struck
media – which has been in the tank for Obama since the early primaries –
wouldn't be so bad. After all, any half-intelligent Epsilon-Minus Semi-Moron
can see through the bias, which is often unapologetic, as in Matthews' case.
However, add to this the breaching of the wall between the government and the
corporate parents of major media outlets, and you're entering some very dangerous
With the government in control of the commanding heights of the American economy
– the financial sector, which, like GE, has its tentacles wrapped around the
communications industry – the difference between private and state-controlled
media is near abolition. The boundary between media and government has always
been rather blurred, at least socially,
and now the connection is being cemented with plenty of cash. If the government
is now buying "shares" in the corporate owners of the major news outlets,
then how close are we to some place like Russia, for instance, where the line
between economy and state hardly exists and the major media dutifully spout
the Kremlin line?
Our captive media can no longer be trusted to tell the truth about what our
government is doing, at home and abroad. That's why Antiwar.com is more essential
than ever. We aren't taking – or asking for – any government bailouts. What
we are asking, however, is for our readers and supporters to dig
deep into their pockets and help keep the independent media alive in this country
by contributing to our winter fundraising drive. Here we are over two weeks
into it, and we still haven't made our goal – which we need to continue operations
in the manner to which you've become accustomed.
Yes, you're used to coming here and finding out the real scoop on American
foreign policy and its domestic repercussions, which, these days, are many and
dreadful. Even our ideological opponents have got to admit that we have the
most comprehensive coverage of the international scene on the Internet. That's
because we're professionals, and we're on the job 24/7 scouring the headlines
so you don't have to. But all this – including our
bevy of regular columnists and occasional contributors – doesn't come free.
We depend on the contributions of our readers. Your tax-deductible donation
goes to keep the flame of independent journalism burning – an especially important
task these days, particularly when it comes to the field of international affairs.
No, we don't get a government bailout, nor are we answerable to a corporate
entity that's on the federal dole. We are answerable only to you, our readers
and supporters: your contribution is your vote of confidence. I think we've
more than earned that vote – just by virtue of enduring for 13 years, against
all odds. Well, now the odds are getting higher. The economic meltdown, aside
from compromising the editorial independence of the "major media,"
is also making it harder for us to raise the funds we need to keep going. So
please, if you haven't contributed already, please
consider doing so. No matter how big or small, we're grateful for each and
every contribution, because it's all going to the cause of a more peaceful foreign
policy. If you've already given, think about upping your donation. It's all
tax-deductible. And consider this: where would you rather send your tax money
– to the big banks to cover their failed investments, or to Antiwar.com to fight
the War Party? Enough said!
With two wars in the can and another one on the burner, the War Party has
been busy lately, and there's hardly anyone keeping an eye on them. The usual
media myopia is worsened by the financial disaster, which hasn't encouraged
reporters to look much further afield than Wall Street and Washington. And
even if they did notice something fishy in the works, would they sound the
alarm, or keep quiet because it's their job to "make this presidency work"?