The blogosphere is all abuzz over yesterday’s comments from Democratic Senator Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia, in which he opined about the annoyance of today’s cable news television programming. Apparently cable news gets in the way of his desire for American citizens to do nothing but worship our government, rather than challenge it.
We need new catalysts for quality news and entertainment programming. I hunger for quality news. I’m tired of the right and the left. There’s a little bug inside of me which wants to get the FCC to say to FOX and to MSNBC: Out. Off. End. Goodbye. It would be a big favor to political discourse; our ability to do our work here in Congress, and to the American people, to be able to talk with each other and have some faith in their government and more importantly, in their future.
Many are making this solely about the issue of the Fairness Doctrine or of Net Neutrality. And to some extent, this is true. But there really is a much larger picture at play here – a transition period to government-run media.
You may have noticed that many on the left have often made very similar comments to Rockefeller’s. Even just as recently, we’ve heard comparable remarks made in television appearances by Rev. Al Sharpton (video) and Texas Democratic Representative Sheila Jackson Lee (video).
Much of this goes back to the years of the Bush administration, when people like George Soros were insisting that outlets like FOX News are the equivalent of Orwellian Newspeak, and that the right-wing media collaborated with former President George W. Bush to manufacture propaganda.
Another element I think is that because of this industry of, [the] communications industry, we have become very used to pre-packaged thought. And so we actually use only information that is pre-packaged for us. And when it has been used in politics, there is now a packaging industry. And it does have some similarities to the institute where Winston, the hero of 1984 worked, the Ministry of Truth.
And while you have pluralistic media, you have a parallel method of propaganda which parades as pluralistic media. FOX News is a prime example of that. And because it parades as a mainstream media, it’s accepted as a mainstream media. And deliberate untruths are accepted as one of the pieces of information that you have to consider. So you have FOX News which is ‘Fair and Balanced’ and that of course is Newspeak. And then you have the mainstream media that tries to be fair and balanced, and therefore information coming from Newspeak sources is accepted as one of the ideas that have to be presented. And you have a number of institutes that deliberately manufacture such information.
(see all three videos here).
Until George W. Bush took office, the cries that our media system in America has fallen hostage to corporations had never been so fervent. Soros especially became vocal in this regard, spreading that same message around the country and internationally that democracy in America was in great peril due to a crisis in journalism.
In 2003, Free Press, a Soros funded organization and member of the progressive Media Consortium, held its first National Conference for Media Reform for about 1,700 attendees. By 2007, the conference grew to 3,000 participants and was attracting speakers that included everyone from David Brock of Media Matters to Van Jones to Danny Glover. At that time, the focus of action was the passage of a bill called the “Media Ownership Reform Act,” which aimed to reinstate the fairness doctrine and to empower the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) with the ability to dictate the content of radio and television programs. The left was never able to truly overcome the pushback to this plan.
But in May 2010, Free Press issued a report titled “New Public Media: A Plan for Action.” Its contents focus on the need to resolve the so-called “crisis in journalism” through government investment in the public’s interest. “We need to build a national constituency to move statehouses and Capitol Hill to assess and implement the right policy changes in support of public service media in its many forms,” the introduction of the report reads.
The moment to launch such a campaign is now. Policymakers are paying closer attention to media and technology policy than at any time in recent memory. Agencies like the Federal Trade Commission and Federal Communications Commission have launched wide-ranging inquiries into the future of journalism, news and information in our communities. President Barack Obama’s commitment to upgrading our “information superhighways” by investing $7.2 billion in building broadband networks to connect every American to high-speed Internet is further evidence that Washington recognizes the vital importance of media and telecommunications infrastructure in the 21st century. The FCC’s National Broadband Plan includes ambitious recommendations: from developing a more robust public media system to supporting universal broadband access and adoption.
Only a month prior to that report’s release, Free Press board members were speaking to an audience about their new approach. John Nichols, also of The Nation, describes his take on the state of journalism in America at an Annenberg Research Seminar titled “The Death and Life of American Journalism,” which hosted Nichols and fellow Free Press board member and Media Matters’ weekly radio program host, Bob McChesney. Nichols didn’t hold back about his views on media consumers on the right:
When we go to Washington DC, and Bob and I do this a lot, and we meet with the key players at the federal level, at the Federal Trade Commission, which is looking into this in a great many ways, and the Federal Communications Commission, with members of Congress, and with members of the administration, they always say ‘well we absolutely know without a doubt there is a crisis; we know there’s exceptionally serious issues at play.
No doubt about that. But does anybody in America really care about it? Because we’re pretty sure everybody in America is really dumb, and really disinterested, and if they’re doing anything, they’re at a Tea Party. But heaven forbid that they would be interested in any kind of future for democracy as it might related to journalism and communications.
It’s events like this where we see crowds of people, many of them young folks who we would hope want to go into journalism and practice the essential craft of the American Experiment – the only one outlined in the constitution as honorable work. We go back to Washington and we say ‘yeah, people do care.’ And it’s not just from the Annenberg School and not just the Normal Lear folks. It’s also at church basements, and union halls and community centers across this country…and there is an absolute shared understanding and that is that American journalism is in complete meltdown. Absolute complete meltdown. No debate about that among citizens.
So, essentially, Americans are too dumb and need their media fed to them instead of leaving it to them to make their own choices in news content.
Nichols mentions the additional idea of creating a government program that would empower the Small Business Administration to give grants to local media owners who make commitments to cover their own communities at the local and state levels. This, in his view, is the way to take the media “out of the hands” of the current so-called corporate media.
When a student notes that the whole plan sounds like “a lovely dream” but challenges the speakers on how realistic it is, given the “cries of socialism” in the current political environment, Nichols blurts out an outlandish response:
There is frankly no hope for democracy in America. It’s done. It’s only a matter of turning the key at some point. We had the Citizens United ruling from the Supreme Court, we just had Net Neutrality undermined by another court. Realistically it’s only about 15 or 20 minutes before we’re all high-tailing it to Canada.
So, what is this new approach that’s going to save democracy in America? According to the Free Press report, this Utopian world they speak of can and should be a “new public media” system, jointly funded by a government trust fund and through non-profit journalism.
The next generation of public broadcasting stations will bring together students, journalists, community media producers, local businesses and other people and organizations in pursuit of information. They will serve as a community hub — a space for training and for the production and distribution of news, information and programming on numerous platforms (radio, television, print, web, mobile, etc). This is part and parcel of the vision of a new public media system that is fully funded, more responsive to communities, networked and participatory. But fulfilling this role requires reimagining the mission of local stations.
Expanding and adapting to the changing media landscape also means that traditional public broadcasters will need to engage and collaborate with the broad, diverse and innovative world of individuals, organizations and institutions creating noncommercial media with a public service mission. Community and low-power radio stations are owned and operated by local nonprofit organizations. Non-profit journalism start-ups are springing up around the country. We need to start thinking of these outlets as public media, too.
That network of non-profit media organizations already exists for the most part and continues to grow, thanks to George Soros’ Media Empire. This essentially serves as the transition stage, while the left tries to force through legislation to push the system all the way to the left and under the government wing. Their proposal entails placing the “Public Media Trust Fund” under the same auspices as NPR, with the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.
It also recommends some of the following taxes and fees, which would go toward the trust fund:
- a Spectrum Use Fee
- instituting a gross receipts direct tax against advertising revenue
- instituting an indirect tax against advertising revenue; remove the current allowable deduction on advertising
- instituting a consumer electronics tax on all items receiving media – cell phones/smart phones, iPads, iPods and other media players, high-definition digital televisions, and laptop computers
Read the entire report to get the full details on everything included in the proposed plan.
In the end, what the left wants is to take the profit incentive away from the business of media and get it out of the hands of the private sector. They cannot fathom the thought of corporations continuing to own the media outlets in America, because then they cannot control the content. Instead, the left would prefer to put their trust solely in the hands of the government and so-called philanthropists. To some, the phrase “new public media” might sound like Utopia. But look at where media is already heading today. When George Soros is building his own media empire to force his political ideology onto the American people, I simply don’t see how that plan protects democracy in our country. I may not like what I see and hear on every channel or at every web address these days. But I am afforded multiple points of view from a plethora of sources that are driven by the market demand. I am responsible enough to go to multiple sources, seek out the facts, and form my own opinions. I’d prefer for my government and George Soros not to form those for me.
This was part 2 in a multi-part series on the Soros Media Empire. Stay tuned for the next piece in the series.