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CBS Censorship

Posted by Rick · February 5th, 2004 · No Comments

The other day, in perhaps not one of my best-written pieces ever, I said that “Bigger is NOT Better”. I doubt very many people read it, at least partly because of the length. Also, I’m still digesting a lot of the stuff I’ve been reading that needs to go into such an article; I probably jumped the gun in writing it when I did.

But the issue is important, and recent actions by CBS News helps to show why.

Now, I’m not sure I’m a huge fan of MoveOn.org, because they often appear a little farther left — at least on particular issues — than I sit. Nevertheless, media censorship is exactly one of the things I targeted as a growing danger when I wrote “Bigger is NOT Better.”

When large portions of the media are controlled by one, or even a small handful, of men (and where are the women magnates, by the way?), there is a danger — freshly-proven by CBS — that what you are allowed to see will be controlled. The media actually recognizes this themselves, but thinks it’s a good thing. You’ll not be so confused if you just hear what they want to tell you and don’t have to sort through alternative views or think.

Do you agree with them that you’re too stupid to think for yourselves? I don’t. I do think the majority of you are uninformed. And I think it’s because a handful of people control most of the media and are pushing hard to control the rest. CNN, Fox “News”, CBS and — oh, that’s pretty much it for my cable selection — “report” the same five to ten stories over and over and over. And try to find one story where they aren’t editorializing, whether it’s as simple as “I don’t think that’s so bad, Rudi, do you?” or inserting snide remarks into the story when quoting someone with whom they disagree.

Now a lot of people I know don’t like this talk of “control of what you can see or hear”. They think it sounds paranoid. But tell that to Eddie Spearitt, whose son died in the 1989 FA Cup semi-final between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest. Some of you may recall the crush of fans which was so severe that 96 people died. An official inquiry showed this was caused by “overcrowding…and the lack of police control.” But Rupert Murdoch, who controlled The Sun, couldn’t stomach the official report.

By the following Tuesday the editor of the Sun, Kelvin MacKenzie, was at his desk designing yet another witty front page. He scribbled, “THE TRUTH” in huge letters. Beneath it he wrote: “Some fans picked pockets of victims . . . some fans urinated on the brave cops [and] viciously attacked rescue workers as they tried to revive victims.”

It wasn’t true, but how many people knew that? It had to be true! It was in the news!

When nearly all the news outlets are controlled by men like this, how will you find out when something false is floated as the true news? If there were many smaller news stations, someone would be bound to bring out the truth.

A second — and to my mind perhaps bigger problem, because it’s more ubiquitous — is what we’re seeing now with CBS, CNN and Fox “News”. When the public (that’s you and me) are pounded daily with slanted news, we soon begin to believe it. You don’t think so? Then answer me this: Why do companies spend billions of dollars per year running commercials? It’s because they know if you’re bombarded often enough with their sales pitch, you’ll buy their stuff. It’s no different with the news, folks. “News” organizations, after all, study you to determine how best to get your attention and some study you to determine how best to get you to accept their version of the news.

Christopher Ruddy of NewsMax takes exception with this view:

Maybe the administration is indeed engaging in media manipulation.

But so far the evidence is very scant.

What he fails to recognize — or maybe just to acknowledge — is that when as much as 45% of the market is owned by one media mogul, there would be scant evidence! The evidence cannot get published! Can you imagine this scene?

News editor: “Mr. Murdoch, we’d like to do a story telling people how much you control what they’re allowed to see.”
Murdoch: “No problem! I think that’s a great idea. It will certainly keep them from being aware of what I’m trying to do!”
News editor: “Uh, no, Mr. Murdoch, you don’t understand. We want to tell them what you’re trying to do.”
Murdoch: “Oh. Uh, maybe that’s not such a good idea.”

When those who own the news consistently control the slant of the news, do you think they’re going to tell you? Of course not! They’re not going to say, “This is the place where we spin everything.” Instead, they’re going to spin everything, all the while telling you that you’re in a “No-Spin Zone.” There going to bring people on their “news” programs to give you “alternative views” and then shout him or her down, interrupt, belittle or otherwise curtail their comments so you can’t hear that view. In the best case, they put up two choices: Their point of view and a caricature of an opposing view and then say, “You Decide.”

And that’s the just one of the dangers of Big Media, because this deals with how they tell you what they decide to tell you. What about the things they decide not to even tell you? “Democracy is not well served” by concentrating the ownership of America’s media in the hands of a few rich guys.

Fortunately, the Internet in the United States (unlike in some countries such as China) remains uncensored and probably uncensorable by the Government which is no longer for the people. While there’s still the problem of knowing what’s reliable and what’s not, there are at least more choices, more voices. Things you’ll never hear about on television — and, increasingly, newspapers — can be found at alternative news sources on the Internet.

As for the issue that provoked this blog entry, you can view the 30-second ad CBS and the Bush Administration won’t allow you to see on television at this website.

Whether you get the chance to do that or not, consider joining the 340,000 and growing numbers of people who are pressuring CBS to stop their practice of only running pro-Bush advertising. And try supplementing the spin you get from CNN, CBS and Fox “News” with some online alternatives.

Related Links
  • Expand Your News with links provided by students from the University of Washington
  • IndyMedia: Independent Media Center
  • BBC: British Broadcasting Corporation
  • MoveOn.org: Democracy in Action

Categories: Freedom of Speech


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