As outrages of the Bush years goes, I suppose this one “only has a bit o’ spam in it,” but the ramifications are consistent with the continuing Orwellianization of America.
The head of the Federal Communications Commission, Kevin Martin, had an idea, and he wanted his idea to come to pass while there was time. He wanted to get rid of the longstanding “newspaper/broadcast cross-ownership” ban that prohibits a local newspaper from owning TV and radio stations in the same market. It’s a bad idea. As Josh Silver puts it in the Huffington Post:
Imagine that you are the Chairman of the FCC, with its congressional mandate to protect localism, diversity and the public interest. You are witnessing the wholesale consolidation of radio triggered by a bad law passed in 1996. You’ve seen the disappearance of over one third of independently owned television station owners and over two thirds of independently owned radio station owners since 1975. You’re watching racial and ethnic minority ownership of TV and radio slip to 3% and 8% respectively. You’re watching consolidated, corporate media churn out the kind of “faux-journalism” that we saw in the run-up to the war in Iraq, and that we’re continuing to see on nearly every commercial television newscast: the place where 70% of Americans get their news about the nation and the world.
Imagine that under intense pressure, you begrudgingly agree to six public hearings across the country to listen to the American people so that they can guide your decision. Imagine some 99% of the people passionately implore that you not let media companies get any bigger. Imagine it’s 11 p.m., you’re seven hours into the hearing, and there’s so many people waiting to give their two-minute testimony that you still have another two hours of testimony to go. Imagine that nearly all of the empirical data released during your deliberation shows that further consolidation damages the principles of “localism” and “diversity” that the FCC was founded in 1934 to protect. Imagine being hauled up in front of the U.S. Congress twice in the past week, only to be berated by members of both parties, imploring you not to proceed.
If you’re Kevin Martin, you come home from your last public hearing, your op-ed appears in the New York Times within two days, and yesterday you strong-arm a 3-2 FCC vote in favor of your idea. In other words, you show the public the same contempt that McNews has shown since O.J. tried on a glove while Congress was working on selling out the public with the Telecommunications Act, passed in 1996.
McNews went on to give us a great deal of information on a blue dress and all that implied, in greater detail than we wanted to know, thereby changing the sexual mores of the nation. It went on to tilt its 2000 presidential coverage by letting fabrications and baseless innuendos about the candidate with a distinguished record stand, while telling us the guy who went AWOL from the National Guard and took pleasure in signing death warrants for the rehabilitated (Karla Faye Tucker), and a most probably innocent minor (Shaka Sankofa), was qualified to be president because you’d like to have a beer with him.
And the McPaper of McRecord went on to issue White House talking points as Judith Miller’s very own journalism, so we went to war on the strength of Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction.
BOOM! Gotcha. McStinko.