Freedom of the Press
In the Guardian Saturday, the alert reader might have spotted this, buried in a deceptively bland story about Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp buying the LA Times and Chicago Tribune out of bankruptcy for a song:
The paper said a deal might require a waiver of federal laws that block ownership of newspapers and TV stations in the same market. Murdoch’s Fox network has stations in Los Angeles in Chicago. Tribune also has interests in television stations, some of which carry programming from News Corp’s TV channels or operate as Fox affiliates.
That’s nice. Nothing can be wiped away so easily as a quaint little law against the partisan political monopoly of the American “free” press.” Notice how even such an antediluvian, pre-Reagan law still reflects the language of the lobbying class; a community becomes a mere “market.” Thus, the anti-informative rantings of one delusional billionaire’s mendacious Clown Show can be deemed, as they have so often before, perfectly alright to become the only media voice, in both print and broadcast, in the spirit of our Founding Fathers.
Across the news media spectrum, from once-local papers to once-local TV and radio stations, one voice and political perspective is moving in for the kill. News Corp, Sinclair Broadcasting, and Clear Channel (currently being looted by none other than Bain Capital) treat news as a cost of doing business their way, and are not opposed to wasting money in so doing, since they get back their investments a hundredfold when the policies they try so laughably hard to put over are implemented.
And, as pure propaganda outlets, even the crummiest newspaper or cheesiest TV station can save a lot of money by dropping actual reporting altogether to replace it with the nonsense that rolls off the right-wing Wurlitzer each day, while perhaps adding a few James O’Keefe wannabes to harass local liberal politicians and organizations might lend an air of verisimilitude to the whole shady enterprise. Viola. Small profits now, and big payoffs later.
The pattern is distressingly familiar; right-wing conglomerate announces its intention to purchase longtime local media institution in its death throes; in order to “save” the foundering news source, rules protecting media diversity rooted in the First Amendment are conveniently “modernized.” The “saved” news outlet instantly becomes a low-quality mouthpiece for the 1%, echoing the many sister companies it joined. Move on to the next city; lather, rinse, repeat.
For Murdoch, it worked in New York, so why not Chicago and LA? After all, it wasn’t like he alone was monopolizing all the news as he does, basically, in Australia and came quite close to doing in Britain before the Recent Unpleasantness and Britain’s anachronistic but thoroughly delightful “fit and proper” standard shattered his Citizen Kane fever dreams.
It’s unlikely that the pathetically dwindling shadows of the LA TImes and Chicago Tribune that Murdoch so oddly covets will do anything different for his bottom line than did his addlepated “deal” for the Wall Street Journal did, in the short term. But this moral mongoloid isn’t thinking about the short term. Murdoch isn’t in the business of journalism; he’s in the business of ending it, and once Chicago and LA are in the same boat, hard to starboard, his dream becomes that much closer to reality.