WHY THE MEDIA LIES
By David Podvin
The obscure but decisive factor of the 2000 presidential election was the issue of concentration of power in broadcasting. The huge conglomerates that own the networks and the big city newspapers desperately wanted to eliminate the federal regulation prohibiting one corporation from owning both the broadcast stations and the newspapers in a city. Al Gore and the Democratic Party supported the existing regulation, which was enacted to prevent a corporation from gaining a monopoly on a city’s media. George W. Bush and the Republican Party supported repealing the regulation, which would mean HUNDREDS OF BILLIONS of dollars in profits to the big media companies.
The mystery is solved. For the past several years, many Democrats have been wondering why the mainstream media, the “liberal media”, has been so consistently pro-Republican. There is no conspiracy involved, just shared financial interests. This has led to a consistent media bias that has promoted the double standard which holds that what’s acceptable when done by Republicans is intolerable when done by Democrats. The impeachment charade was a classic example. While polls consistently showed that two thirds of Americans wanted the vendetta to be stopped, the corporate press marched in lockstep with Tom DeLay, Henry Hyde, and the various other perjurers and adulterers who were obsessively pursuing the President for perjury and adultery. Not coincidentally, these same Republican Congressional leaders were advocates for the changes in the federal regulation that would greatly benefit the media elite.
The extreme pro-GOP bias of the broadcast networks and influential metropolitan newspapers was most evident during the 2000 presidential campaign. Leading up to the political conventions, a survey revealed that Bush had received almost twice as much favorable coverage as Gore.
After George W. Bush’s acceptance speech, the mainstream media was virtually universal in its praise that Bush had helped himself with a strong performance. After Al Gore’s acceptance speech, the same media analysts declared that he had marginalized himself with a presentation that they described as being “awkward” and “extreme”. Yet public opinion polls revealed that the net result of the two speeches was exactly the opposite of what the corporate pundits were claiming; the double-digit lead that Bush had held for months evaporated completely.
Why were the mainstream media perceptions of the candidates so at variance with reality? Please refer to the First Paragraph.
During the first debate, Al Gore told three vignettes. He said that he had visited the site of a Texas fire with the director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency. It turned out that the fire was in Florida. He also spoke about an elderly woman who collected cans in order to pay for her medicine, and a high school girl who stood in class due to a lack of chairs. The woman and the student both confirmed that his stories were true.
During the first debate, George W. Bush said that his prescription drug plan covered all senior citizens. He said that his tax cut would not disproportionately benefit the rich. He said that his Social Security proposal would include sufficient funding to maintain all current benefits. He said that his proposed economic plan would achieve a balanced budget. He said that he had signed hate crime legislation in Texas. He said that the Clinton administration had not enacted a middle class tax cut. All of these statements were untrue.
The mainstream media spent the next week focusing on Al Gore’s anecdotes and falsely accusing him of being a liar. If you were one of millions of Americans who watched this surrealistic farce in stunned amazement, and you still can’t figure out what the hell was going on, then please refer to the First Paragraph.
It is true that the editorial boards of the “liberal” New York Times and the “liberal” Washington Post endorsed Al Gore. Far more meaningfully, however, was the vicious, dishonest day-to-day coverage of the Democratic nominee by beat writers Katherine (Kit) Seelye of the Times and Cici Connolly of the Post. These reporters presented their readers with half-truths, lies, and negative editorial commentary that were presented as “objective news coverage”.
They were in the vanguard of falsely labeling Gore a “serial liar” for, among other things, joking that his favorite childhood lullaby was Look For The Union Label. Both Seelye and Connolly leapt at the chance to reveal that Gore was an adult when the song was written. They were unwilling to let go of their proof that this was the latest example of the Vice President’s psychotic penchant for deceit, even after real reporters interviewed members of the audience at the Gore speech in question and verified that he was joking.
Seelye and Connolly also accused Gore of lying about being the inspiration for the character of Oliver in the book Love Story.
They were not swayed when the author, Erich Segall, said that Gore really was the inspiration for Oliver.
It didn’t matter. With America’s “newspapers of record” definitively stating that Gore was a liar, then Gore was a liar, regardless of the facts.
Why would two major newspaper corporations with reputations for being liberal want to deliberately sabotage Gore? Please refer to the First Paragraph.
Throughout the entire campaign, the media refused to thoroughly examine the record of George W. Bush as governor of Texas. They failed to report on the financial mess that he created with a big tax cut for oil companies that has resulted in a large state budget deficit. They chose not to report on his many highly questionable business dealings, ranging from insider trading at Harken Energy to leaching off of the taxpayers while running the Texas Rangers. They deliberately ignored the videotape of an obviously drunken Bush at a wedding that was recorded years after he claimed to have quit drinking. They chose not to focus on charges of influence peddling that were made against Bush in regard to his involvement with the funeral industry in Texas. When his carefully concealed drunk driving arrest became public, they responded by blaming Al Gore for conspiring to embarrass Bush. In summary, the mainstream press was impervious to negative facts about their candidate.
Why would the multinational communications corporations behave so unethically? Please refer to the First Paragraph.
During the Florida recount, the mainstream press almost uniformly backed Bush. This began on election night, when Tim Russert of General Electric’s NBC News began calling for Gore to concede even before the legally mandated recount had started.
It continued through the entire process, with the media demanding that every presumably pro-Bush military vote be counted whether or not it had been legally cast. There was no such moral indignation towards the massive Republican campaign to deprive African Americans of the right to vote that has been thoroughly documented by the BBC.
It ended with the major media speaking in unison to insist that Americans “get over” the fact that a partisan and corrupt Supreme Court violated every previous ruling that the Republican majority had ever made involving states’ rights. Best-selling author Vincent Bugliosi has been all over the airwaves with his book about the O.J. Simpson case. He has not been provided a similar opportunity to promote his book that documents the hypocrisy and dishonesty of the Supreme Court decision that stole the election for Bush.
And it goes on, with the Disney/ABC program Nightline and the News Corporation program Fox News Sunday declaring that Bush won fair and square, and portraying black Floridians who claim that their voting rights were violated as being delusional malcontents.
Why would General Electric, Disney, and News Corp., three of the biggest media conglomerates in the world, violate all journalistic standards of objectivity and take sides as they have? Please refer to the First Paragraph.
The relationship between the administration of George W. Bush and the mainstream media has resembled an episode of The Andy Griffith Show in which Otis the Town Drunk tries to get himself thrown in jail, but regardless of what he does, Deputy Barney Fife refuses to arrest him. No matter how much material for scandal Bush provides, the media is unwilling to accept it.
Clinton was vilified for inviting campaign contributors to the White House for coffee. Bush has gone virtually uncriticized by the press for inviting his energy industry campaign contributors to the White House in order to write legislation that will redistribute trillions of dollars from consumers to Big Oil and Big Coal (and Big Nuclear, which is a major revenue source for the employer of Russert, Tom Brokaw, Andrea Mitchell, and the rest of the GOP cheerleading squad at NBC).
The amount of outraged media coverage that was focused on Clinton campaign contributors spending fatality-free nights in the Lincoln Bedroom dwarfed the attention that was devoted to Bush campaign contributors who operated the controls of a nuclear submarine during a cruise that resulted in the deaths of nine civilians.
Bush nominees John Ashcroft and Ted Olson lied about matters of substance under oath during their confirmation hearings before Congress. Yet the same mainstream media that deplored perjury so much that it demanded Clinton’s head for lying about sex has developed group laryngitis now that the lies under oath are coming from Republicans.
Even when Bush is caught dead to rights in a lie, the media remains deferential. When he violated his transparently insincere promise to curb carbon emissions, the media chose to present his dissembling as a virtue called “flexibility”.
The General Services Administration has issued a report about the vandalism and theft that the Bush regime claimed had been committed by departing Clinton staffers. The report revealed that the crimes that had been described in excruciating detail by Bush Press Secretary Ari Fleischer never happened. This means that, on their very first day in the White House, Bush and his staff chose to restore honor and integrity to the Oval Office by falsely accusing people of committing felonies. It has been proven that they lied directly to the media for the purpose of manipulating reporters into libeling people who were completely innocent. And, because of the GSA report, the media now knows it. Yet the same reporters who refused to tolerate lying of any kind by Al Gore, even nonexistent lying, remain submissive and obedient for Bush.
Why does the media refuse to hold George W. Bush to the same standard that they apply to Democrats? Why do they refuse to hold him to any standard at all, even the self-serving standard that they will not tolerate him lying to them?
You know why:
Shortly after being appointed by George W. Bush, Federal Communications Chairman Michael Powell announced that the regulation that prohibits ownership of both television stations and newspapers in the same city is going to be changed. “There is something offensive to First Amendment values about that limitation,” he said.
Podvin on the Media
Podvin, the Series