"I hope we shall crush in its birth the aristocracy of our moneyed corporations, which dare already to challenge our government to a trial of strength and bid defiance to the laws of our country."

Thomas Jefferson

Image - WTO Protests - Seattle, Washington 1999

Corporate Control

Our Hidden History | Corporate Media | A Putocracy Not A Democracy | The New World Order

Corporations Have a Chokehold
on the U.S. Media

by Rep. Bernie Sanders

One of our best-kept secrets is the degree to which a handful of huge corporations control the flow of information in the United States.

Whether it is television, radio, newspapers, magazines, books or the Internet, a few giant conglomerates are determining what we see, hear and read. And the situation is likely to become much worse as a result of radical deregulation efforts by the [unelected] Bush administration and some horrendous court decisions.

Television is the means by which most Americans get their “news.” Without exception, every major network is owned by a huge conglomerate that has enormous conflicts of interest. Fox News Channel is owned by Rupert Murdoch, a right-wing Australian who already owns a significant portion of the world’s media. His network has close ties to the Republican Party, and among his “fair and balanced” commentators is Newt Gingrich.

NBC is owned by General Electric, one of the largest corporations in the world — and one with a long history of anti-union activity. GE, a major contributor to the Republican Party, has substantial financial interests in weapons manufacturing, finance, nuclear power and many other industries. Former CEO Jack Welch was one of the leaders in shutting down American plants and moving them to low-wage countries like China and Mexico.

ABC is owned by the Disney Corp., which produces toys and products in developing countries where they provide their workers atrocious wages and working conditions.

CBS is owned by Viacom, another huge media conglomerate that owns, among other entities, MTV, Showtime, Nickelodeon, VH1, TNN, CMT, 39 broadcast television stations, 184 radio stations, Paramount Pictures and Blockbuster Inc.

The essential problem with television is not just a right-wing bias in news and programming, or the transformation of politics and government into entertainment and sensationalism. Nor is it just the constant bombardment of advertising, much of it directed at children. It’s that the most important issues facing the middle-class and working people of our country are rarely discussed. The average American does not see his or her reality reflected on the television screen.

The United States is the only industrialized nation on earth that does not have a national healthcare program. Yet, despite 41 million people with no health insurance and millions more underinsured, we spend far more per capita on healthcare than any other nation. Maybe the reason is that we are seeing no good programs on television, in between the prescription drug advertisements, discussing how we can provide quality healthcare for all at far lower per capita costs than we presently spend?

Despite the great “economic boom” of the 1990s, the average American worker is now working longer hours for lower wages than 30 years ago, and we have lost millions of decent-paying manufacturing jobs. Where are the TV programs addressing our $360 billion trade deficit, or what our disastrous trade policy has done to depress wages in this country? And while we’re on economics, workers who are in unions earn 30 percent more than non-union people doing the same work. There are a lot of programs on television about how to get rich by investing in the stock market. But have you seen any “specials” on how to go about forming a union?

The United States has the most unfair distribution of wealth and income in the industrialized world, and the highest rate of childhood poverty. There’s a lot of television promoting greed and self-interest, but how many programs speak to the “justice” of the richest 1 percent owning more wealth than the bottom 95 percent? Or of the CEOs of major corporations earning 500 times what their employees make?

If television largely ignores the reality of life for the majority of Americans, corporate radio is just plain overt in its right-wing bias. In a nation that cast a few million more votes for Al Gore and Ralph Nader than for George Bush and Pat Buchanan, there are dozens of right-wing talk show programs. Rush Limbaugh, G. Gordon Liddy, Bob Grant, Sean Hannity, Alan Keyes, Armstrong Williams, Howie Carr, Oliver North, Michael Savage, Michael Reagan, Pat Robertson, Laura Schlessinger — these are only a few of the voices that day after day pound a right-wing drumbeat into the heartland of this country.

And from a left perspective there is — well, no one. The Republican Party, corporate owners and advertisers have their point of view well represented on radio. Unfortunately, the rest of America has almost nothing.

As bad as the current media situation is, it is likely to be made much worse by a recent decision in the District of Columbia Court of Appeals that responded to a suit by Fox, AOL Time Warner, NBC and Viacom. That decision struck down a federal regulation limiting companies from owning television stations and cable franchises in the same local markets. The court also ordered that the Federal Communications Commission either justify or rewrite the federal rule that limits any one company from owning television stations that reach more than 35 percent of American households.

The bottom line is that fewer and fewer huge conglomerates are controlling virtually everything that the ordinary American sees, hears and reads. This is an issue that Congress can no longer ignore.

Rep. Bernie Sanders is an Independent Member of the U.S. Congress from Vermont. In April 2002, U.S. Congressman Sanders held 2 town meetings in Vermont to discuss the issue of the growing corporate control over the U.S. news media — and over 600 Vermonters showed up to participate in the media forum.

On Thursday, July 11, 2002, many Americans came to the U.S. Capitol for Congressman Sanders’ Symposium on Corporate Control of the Media with U.S. Rep. Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Robert McChesney, author of Rich Media, Poor Democracy, John Nichols, co-author of It’s the Media, Stupid and The Nation magazine’s Washington Correspondent and Linda Foley, President of The Newspaper Guild.

Related sites

Who Owns What

From the Columbia Journalism Review:
“Media companies continue to grow, and a shrinking number of them shape what we view and read. What does that mean for journalists — and for the nation?”

Project Censored

“The Essential Issue raised by [Project Censored] is the failure of the mass media to provide the people with all the information they need to make informed decisions concerning their own lives and in the voting booth.”

The journalism and films of John Pilger

“It is not enough for journalists to see themselves as mere messengers without understanding the hidden agendas of the message and the myths that surround it.”

— John Pilger

The U.S. media: a critical component of the conspiracy against democratic rights — Part 1

“This is the first in a series of pieces that will attempt to answer several questions: Why do the American mass media play such a foul role? Who are the major personalities? Who owns the media? What is their modus operandi?”

Part 2: An evening of television news

Part 3: Television personnel: money matters

Part 4: Television personnel: a few profiles

Part 5: Media ownership and concentration

Part 6: Who is the Wall Street Journal’s Robert Bartley?

Part 7: Conclusions about the media in general, the liberal press in particular

Media Beat

“Media Beat is the insightful weekly syndicated column on media and politics written by FAIR associate Norman Solomon. It runs in newspapers across the country.

Utne Reader called Solomon one of ‘the fiercest and most articulate media critics around.’ A Los Angeles Times reviewer wrote: ‘The bold, muckraking tone of these columns offers a welcome respite from the decerebrated discourse that too often passes for contemporary journalism.’”

Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting — FAIR

“FAIR, the national media watch group, has been offering well-documented criticism of media bias and censorship since 1986. We work to invigorate the First Amendment by advocating for greater diversity in the press and by scrutinizing media practices that marginalize public interest, minority and dissenting viewpoints.

“As an anti-censorship organization, we expose neglected news stories and defend working journalists when they are muzzled. As a progressive group, FAIR believes that structural reform is ultimately needed to break up the dominant media conglomerates, establish independent public broadcasting and promote strong non-profit sources of information.”

How the White House and the media package government propaganda as entertainment

US psychological warfare experts worked at CNN and NPR during Kosovo War

“Cable News Network (CNN) and National Public Radio (NPR) have acknowledged that eight members of the US Army 4th Psychological Operations (PSYOPS) Group served as interns in their news divisions and other areas during the Kosovo war. PSYOPS is a highly specialized unit of the military whose personnel are trained in the production and dissemination of US government propaganda, including on television and radio programs.”

“Three PSYOPS personnel also worked at the Washington DC headquarters of NPR, a publicly-funded radio network. They worked for periods ranging from six weeks to four months from September 1998 through May 1999 on such programs as All Things Considered and Morning Edition.

PR Watch and the Center for Media & Democracy

The press and US militarism — a lesson from history


The Habits of Highly Deceptive Media:
Decoding Spin and Lies in Mainstream News
by Norman Solomon

Inventing Reality:
The Politics of News Media
by Michael Parenti

Manufacturing Consent:
The Political Economy of the Mass Media
by Edward S. Herman and Noam Chomsky

Corporate Media and the Threat to Democracy
by Robert W. McChesney

Censored 2000:
The Year’s Top 25 Censored Stories
by Peter Phillips & Project Censored

War, Lies & Videotape:
How media monopoly stifles truth
edited by Lenora Foerstel; multiple authors

Pirates and Emperors, Old and New:
International Terrorism in the Real World
by Noam Chomsky

The Real Terror Network:
Terrorism in Fact and Propaganda
by Edward S. Herman

Body of Secrets
by James Bamford
Doubleday, 2001

In 1962, U.S. military leaders had a plan for conducting terrorist acts against Americans while blaming Cuba. Codenamed “Operation Northwoods”, the plan was intended to provide the propaganda necessary to create popular sentiment for an invasion of Cuba.

The Hidden Persuaders:
What makes us buy, believe – and even vote – the way we do?
by Vance Packard

The Decline and Fall of the American Empire
by Gore Vidal

Dumbing Us Down:
The Hidden Curriculum of Compulsory Schooling
by John Taylor Gatto

What Uncle Sam Really Wants
by Noam Chomsky

Derailing Democracy:
The America the Media Don’t Want You to See
by David McGowan

Democracy for the Few
by Michael Parenti

Market Elections:
How “Democracy” Serves the Rich
by Vince Copeland

Against Empire
by Michael Parenti

The Sword and the Dollar:
Imperialism, Revolution and the Arms Race
by Michael Parenti

The Fire This Time:
U.S. War Crimes in the Gulf
by Ramsey Clark

Desert Slaughter:
The Imperialist War Against Iraq
by the Workers League

Rogue State:
A Guide to the World’s Only Superpower
by William Blum

Apocalypse 1945:
The Destruction of Dresden
by David Irving

Western State Terrorism
Alexander George, editor; essays by Noam Chomsky, Edward S. Herman, Gerry O’Sullivan and others

Terrorizing the Neighborhood:
American Foreign Policy in the Post-Cold War Era

by Noam Chomsky
Pressure Drop Press, 1991

The Culture of Terrorism
by Noam Chomsky

Blackshirts and Reds:
Rational Fascism and the Overthrow of Communism
by Michael Parenti

The Beast Reawakens
by Martin A. Lee

To Kill A Nation:
The Attack on Yugoslavia
by Michael Parenti

Hidden Agenda:
U.S./NATO Takeover of Yugoslavia
by Ramsey Clark, Nadja Tesich, Michel Chossudovsky, Slobodan Milosevic, numerous authors

Killing Hope:
U.S. Military and CIA Interventions Since WWII
by William Blum

from http://free.freespeech.org/americanstateterrorism/mediadeception/CorporateChokeholdMedia.html