In responding to meteorologist Eric Holstahgus’s post about the recent wildfires in Greece, journalist Elon Green wrote, “Sure would be nice if our news networks—the only outlets that can force change in this country—would cover it with commensurate urgency. Acting as if there’s nothing to be done is not excusable.”
Chris Hayes, the popular MSNBC host, responded with this freakish tweet: “Every single time we’ve covered it’s been a palpable ratings killer. So the incentives are not great.”
The corporate news is not about news. It is not about covering what is wrong with the world or about what people are doing to fix this broken mess. Rather the corporate news is about exactly what all corporations are about: the bottom line. Corporate news is about profit.
Noam Chomsky has been saying it for years: “The mass media serve as a system for communicating messages and symbols to the general populace. It is their function to amuse, entertain, and inform, and to inculcate individuals with the values, beliefs, and codes of behavior that will integrate them into the institutional structures of the larger society. In a world of concentrated wealth and major conflicts of class interest, to fulfill this role requires systematic propaganda.”
When Donald Trump was elected it was the CNN executive who spouted off about how much money he had made off the wild election coverage. After the election nothing changed. The corporate media is making millions off his presidency.
When Bernie Sanders was running for president he ran up against this so much it was probably one of the biggest factors in his loss (the other factor simply being the corporate party he was running for). He has in interesting reflection online:
For the corporate media, the real issues facing the American people— poverty, the decline of the middle class, income and wealth inequality, trade, healthcare, climate change, etc.—are fairly irrelevant. For them, politics is largely presented as entertainment. With some notable exceptions, reporters are trained to see a campaign as if it were a game show, a baseball game, a soap opera, or a series of conflicts.
.. Turn on CNN or other networks covering politics and what you will find is that the overwhelming amount of coverage is dedicated to personality, gossip, campaign strategy, scandals, conflicts, polls and who appears to be winning or losing, fundraising, the ups and downs of the campaign trail, and the dumb things a candidate may say or do. It has very little to do with the needs of the American people and the ideas or programs a candidate offers to address the problems facing the country.
You can see how manufactured the consent of the public is by simply watching what news commentary your CNN-liberal friends post on Facebook. Their talking points are not from studying, not from activism, not from organizing, not from a political science textbook (those probably aren’t worth reading anyway lol), but are all from the corporate media hosts. The exact political perspective of so many liberal Americans is just what Rachel Maddow told them to think. Most liberals don’t even realize that “liberalism” is a political and economic form of capitalism and does not mean, “open minded and friendly to gay people.” The same complaints liberals have about Fox News-fans are exactly what they are doing, or what is being done to them, through CNN and MSNBC.
If the corporate news actually cared about reporting injustice and sought to expose that injustice by conflicting the comfortable, real change could take place. With actual reporting, and not corporate profiteering, we could live in a more just and equitable world.
But that’s not about to happen. We need to create our own news, our own reporting, and our own news infrastructure to combat the corporate monopoly on news in the United States.
If the corporate news choses to report what makes them money and not actual world problems, we will all suffer.
It is important that we begin to find alternative news, gonzo-journalism, and people-powered analysis.
This is a short blog post – there is much more to be said, in much more detail. Noam Chomsky’s book: Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media will get you the goods. There have also been short videos summarizing the book’s thesis that are short and also a good place to start.
Here are some great examples of independent media: