Media Rants: Censored in 2011, Part 2
Last month I identified half of the top ten censored stories of 2010. They were: (10) Has Bradley Manning been tortured? (9) The “Invented” Peoples’ Nonviolent Political Prisoner, (8) Execution By Secret White House Committee, (7) Delaying Climate Action At Durban, (6) ALEC Exposed? Each story was underreported, ignored, misrepresented, or censored by corporate media in 2010.
And now the top 5.
No. 5: The Presidential Election Campaign. In December of last year Gallup released some fascinating poll results showing that 70% of Americans can’t wait for the presidential election campaign to be over. Many months before the Republicans will even choose a nominee to challenge Barack Obama, only 26% of Americans said they “can’t wait” for the presidential campaigns to begin.
Gallup attributes the lack of enthusiasm toward selecting the leader of the free world to several factors including the length of the campaigns, lack of trust in politicians, and dislike of negative ads. More significant, in my view, is the fact that mainstream media coverage of the presidential campaign features predominantly “horse race” journalism (?) concerned primarily with who’s up, who’s down, and “insider baseball” political strategy. Meaningful, substantive coverage of issues that matter to peoples’ lives and detailed analyses of candidates’ positions on them is marginalized or outright censored in most major media. Under such conditions of journalistic negligence, of course we can’t wait for the campaign to be over.
No. 4: The Death of PolitiFact. The late, great journalistic gadfly I.F. Stone said that "If you want to know about governments, all you have to know is two words, 'governments lie.'" Heirs of Stone were thus thrilled when the fact checking website PolitiFact a few years ago pledged to help citizens sort out truth and lies in public discourse. For obvious reasons, establishment politicians and pundits hated PolitiFact from the day it was launched. Sadly, in 2011 PolitiFact became part of the establishment and lost all credibility.
In Wisconsin, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel runs a PolitiFact column. In a bizarre entry, MJS PolitiFact labeled as “false” Wisconsin Democracy Campaign Executive Director Mike McCabe’s claim made at Fighting BobFest that the state’s 2011- 2013 budget includes a "15 percent increase for road construction and yet we’ve got local towns tearing up pavement and putting down gravel because the money is steered to private contractors instead, not to the local road crews that work for the townships and for the county." McCabe’s response (not printed by MJS even though they did run Senator Ron Johnson’s objections to a PoltiFact column about him) adroitly exposed the hack work that went into the MJS column.
Worse, at the national level PolitiFact designated Democrats’ claim that the Republicans voted to end Medicare as the “lie of the year.” Caving in to pressure from the Republican establishment, PolitiFact accepted as true the absurd posturing of politicians like Wisconsin’s Paul Ryan that a vote to privatize Medicare somehow is not a vote to end it.
No. 3: Corporate Taxes and Lobbying. Reporting on the Occupy Wall Street movement usually frames occupiers’ claims regarding corporate privilege and greed as something debatable. We should not be surprised that corporate media have the backs of other corporations, but still it’s shocking how difficult it is for the major media to state the basic facts of our economy. Let’s give the International Business Times some credit for at least summarizing the results of a study by the nonpartisan Public Campaign: “By employing a plethora of tax-dodging techniques, 30 multi-million dollar American corporations expended more money lobbying Congress than they paid in federal income taxes between 2008 and 2010, ultimately spending approximately $400,000 every day, including weekends, during that three-year period to lobby lawmakers and influence political elections.”
No. 2: Mining For Influence. In December Wisconsin’s Assembly Republicans introduced a sweeping bill to streamline mining regulations in the state. Virtually NONE of the mainstream reporting mentioned the special interest dollars flowing to key politicians (including Scott Walker) supporting the bill. As usual, it was left to the nonpartisan Wisconsin Democracy Campaign to reveal the influence of out of state mining interests.
No. 1: Was Krugman Right About 9/11? Last year was the 10th anniversary of the horrible 9/11 attacks. In a blog post that led to former Defense Secretary Don Rumsfeld canceling his New York Times subscription, Nobel Prize winning economist Paul Krugman said in part: “What happened after 9/11, and I think even people on the right know this, whether they admit it or not, was deeply shameful. The atrocity should have been a unifying event, but instead it became a wedge issue. Fake heroes like Bernie Kerik, Rudy Giuliani, and, yes, George W. Bush raced to cash in on the horror. And then the attack was used to justify an unrelated war the neocons wanted to fight, for all the wrong reasons.”
Krugman’s post was met with the usual bluster from the Right, and even some on the Left thought Krugman’s timing was bad. But missing in almost all mainstream coverage was an attempt to answer a simple question: was/is Krugman right? Have the last ten really been “years of shame” for our country? To sweep that question under the rug is to allow shameful acts in the name of 9/11 to continue.