Let every American, every lover of liberty, every well wisher to his posterity, swear by the blood of the Revolution, never to violate in the least particular, the laws of the country; and never to tolerate their violation by others.

As the patriots of seventy-six did to the support of the Declaration of Independence, so to the support of the Constitution and Laws, let every American pledge his life, his property, and his sacred honor; let every man remember that to violate the law, is to trample on the blood of his father, and to tear the charter of his own, and his children's liberty.

Let reverence for the laws, be breathed by every American mother, to the lisping babe, that prattles on her lap; let it be taught in schools, in seminaries, and in colleges; let it be written in Primers, spelling books, and in Almanacs; let it be preached from the pulpit, proclaimed in legislative halls, and enforced in courts of justice. And, in short, let it become the political religion of the nation; and Let the old and the young, the rich and the poor, the grave and the gay, of all sexes and tongues, and colors and conditions, sacrifice unceasingly upon its altars.

While ever a state of feeling, such as this, shall universally, or even, very generally prevail throughout the nation, vain will be every effort, and fruitless every attempt, to subvert our national freedom.

- Abraham Lincoln, January 27, 1838
  Address Before the Young Men's Lyceum of Springfield, Illinois

Monday, July 02, 2007

The Murdoch 'morans'

Murdoch, Murdoch everywhere... and not a drop (of truth) to drink.

In October 2003, the non-partisan Program on International Policy Attitudes published a study titled "Misperceptions, the Media and the Iraq War."(PDF) It found 60 percent of Americans believed at least one of the following: Clear evidence had been found of links between Iraq and Al-Qaida; weapons of mass destruction had been found in Iraq; world public opinion favored the United States going to war with Iraq.

The prevalence of these misperceptions, however, depended crucially on where people got their news.

Only 23 percent of those who got their information mainly from PBS or NPR believed any of these untrue things, but the number was 80 percent among those relying primarily on Fox News. In particular, two-thirds of Fox devotees believed the United States had "found clear evidence in Iraq that Saddam Hussein was working closely with the Al-Qaida terrorist organization."

Everyone who laments the death of true journalism in America (and around the world) understands who the primary attacker is: Rupert Murdoch. The man can't seem to keep his hands off reputable news outfits; seemingly never satisfied until they has remade them into carbon copies of those trashy gossip rags you find near the checkout counters in the grocery store.

Yes, this is Murdoch's dream for America: that we all become uninformed serfs and therefore subject to whatever propaganda he might decide was best fit for our consumption. After all, a man with his evident wealth can much better pick and choose our 'news' for us than, say, some brainy, liberal journalist... right?

I think there is a good reason why the propaganda system works that way. It recognizes that the public will not support the actual policies. Therefore it is important to prevent any knowledge or understanding of them. - Noam Chomsky

Alas for my unused journalism degree, I fear that diploma will remain in a drawer collecting dust for the remainder of my life. Blogging is my only outlet, and soon they will undoubtedly come for this media as well. Perhaps then we will all resort to carving strange characters on trees like our ancestors, the Celts. This might be a good time to start learning the Ogham.

The problem with Murdoch isn't that he's a right-wing ideologue. If that were all he was, he'd be much less dangerous. What he is, rather, is an opportunist who exploits a rule-free media environment - one created, in part, by conservative political power - by slanting news coverage to favor whoever he thinks will serve his business interests.

In the United States, that strategy has mainly meant blatant bias in favor of the Bush administration and the Republican Party - but last year, Murdoch covered his bases by hosting a fundraiser for Hillary Rodham Clinton's Senate re-election campaign.

And now I'm supposed to disconnect the logical centers of my brain and trust her with my Net Neutrality? I still haven't forgiven Bill for allowing these corporations to build these vast, media empires in the first place (that 1996 Communications Bill.)

Now that Murdoch is in Hillary's camp, exactly why would I trust her with anything related to 'truth' and 'honesty', not to mention democracy itself? Because Murdoch and democracy are at cross purposes.

In Britain, Murdoch endorsed Tony Blair in 1997 and gave his government favorable coverage, "ensuring," reports the New York Times, "that the new government would allow him to keep intact his British holdings."

And in China, Murdoch's organizations have taken care not to offend the dictatorship.

Now, Murdoch's people rarely make flatly false claims. Instead, they usually convey misinformation through innuendo.

During the early months of the Iraq occupation, for example, Fox gave breathless coverage to each report of possible weapons of mass destruction, with little or no coverage of the subsequent discovery that it was a false alarm. No wonder, then, that many Fox viewers got the impression WMDs had been found.

This is why it is now impossible to talk to my Republican friends. We're simply all getting different news feeds.

I smelled a rat with Fox immediately (journalism training no doubt,) and fled to the internet. When all else fails, I can find international coverage of national news on the web.

But for those who turn to Fox for baseball or football (Fox has a monopoly on sports as well,) there was no warning label attached to the evening news: that the news wasn't really 'news' at all, but partisan propaganda.

And thus commenced the duping of America.

Our citizenry is totally clueless now... and that is very dangerous for our democracy. When I was growing up - most especially during Watergate and the Vietnam war - we had intelligent and credible news anchors and news departments that gave it to us straight.

Because so many of us grew up trusting the venerable television anchors like Walter Cronkite, Roger Mudd and Dan Rather, many people haven't realized that everything has changed... and our current 'actor' newscasters are now slanting the facts, or simply not reporting them (to the advantage of the big money corporations and the White House.)

Average Americans no longer have any clue what is going on in Washington (they aren't digging for news out here unless they somehow figure out what they are being lied to - and most of them can't really tell.) Thus many don't even know that they want Cheney impeached, and why; and thus aren't screaming. And because they aren't screaming, of course the pundits - who never gave them the facts - assure the politicians that the people 'don't really care,' when in reality, they don't KNOW.

There are so many issues that I have been following via excellent journalism 'hubs' here on the web; issues that are never even mentioned by mainstream, network news. Its outrageous... and very scary. It worries me greatly, because I learned early (in journalism school,) that one of the best safeguards of our democracy is an informed citizenry:

I am a firm believer in the people. If given the truth, they can be depended upon to meet any national crisis. The great point is to bring them the real facts. - Abraham Lincoln

Enlighten the people generally, and tyranny and oppressions of body and mind will vanish like evil spirits at the dawn of day. - Thomas Jefferson

So what the heck is Murdoch doing... and why are we letting him gobble up our news at this rate? You'd think someone within government would call foul. Then again...

When all else fails, Murdoch's news organizations simply stop covering inconvenient subjects.

Last year, Fox relentlessly pushed claims that the "liberal media" were failing to report the "good news" from Iraq. Once that line became untenable - well, the Project for Excellence in Journalism found that in the first quarter of 2007, daytime programs on Fox News devoted only 6 percent of their time to the Iraq war, compared with 18 percent at MSNBC and 20 percent at CNN.

And so, now we await the fate of the hapless news department at the Wall Street Journal.

These veteran journalists know the writing is on the wall. What has surprised me is that there isn't more of an outcry from others in journalistic circles, or from those with backgrounds in journalism -- because surely we know what may soon be lost to us forever, if this great and honorable news department is allowed to be corrupted by the 'Murdoch moran' news funk.

If Murdoch does acquire the Journal, it will be a dark day for America's news media - and American democracy.

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