Ivan Boesky Broadcasters
By Tony Palmeri
October 2012 represents the 25th
anniversary of one of the worst stock market crashes in global history. On “BlackMonday” October 19, 1987 the Dow Jones Industrial Average experienced the worst
ever one day percentage drop. Then as now, corporate mass media revealed an
unwillingness to delve meaningfully into the root causes of monetary meltdowns,
ensuring only the business as usual continuance of a fucked up financial system. Then as now, great writers with a grasp of Wall Street’s rigged casino
culture, like Rolling Stone’s MattTaibbi and ProPublica’s JesseEisinger, expose the rot from the margins while the mainstream press mostly
enables the status quo.
Reflecting back, I remember seeing the Wall St.
crash as nothing more than an inevitable consequence of the culture of trickle
down economics and greed sanctioned by the Reagan Administration. After Reagan
assumed power in 1981, media fascination with millionaires reached points not
seen since the 1920s. Oliver Stone’s 1987 film Wall St. perfectly captured the ideology of the period.
Stone’s infamous character Gordon Gekko was
supposedly based on a composite of several Wall St. crooks including IvanBoesky. Boesky’s a rare example of a Wall St. criminal actually prosecuted; he
served 3.5 years at Lompoc Federal Prison (at the time the ultimate “Club Fed”
country club facility) and paid a $100 million dollar fine for insider trading.
About Boesky, NewYork Magazine argues that “the biggest surprise about his crime is that he
managed to get away with it for so long. It wasn’t any secret that he was
taking massive positions in stocks in companies that, in a matter of weeks,
became takeover targets of the corporate raiders of the day, earning the
financier huge profits. Boesky sold himself as a genius. . . In the popular
press, the wizard act was pretty convincing. . .” Boesky’s “wizard act” was so
blatantly over the top that press treatment of him before his arrest can only
be described as a kind of journalistic negligence. Broadcasters that should
have been Boesky badgerers became, at least for a bit, Boesky boosters.
Indeed, before federal prosecutors reined him in,
Boesky in public provided ample signs that he was up to no good. Stone’s Gordon
Gekko in Wall St. famously says in
part that “greed, for lack of a better word, is good. Greed is right, greed
works.” In real life in May of 1986 Boesky delivered the commencement address
at the Berkeley School of Business Administration and said "Greed is
all right, by the way. I want you to know that. I think greed is healthy. You
can be greedy and still feel good about yourself."
Corporate mass media hardly ever spark a sense of urgency about going
after Wall St. crooks because, in a real sense, CORPORATE MEDIA ARE BOESKY. Consider
the major tenets of Boeskyism: greed, insider fetishism, and a reduction of all
moral questions to the “bottom line.” What institution then and/or now operate
according to those tenets more than corporate mass media?
Boesky broadcasting is always awful, but probably at its worst during
presidential election years. Let’s apply the tenets of Boeskyism to corporate
media coverage of this year’s race.
Greed: As of the middle of September the Obama campaign had raised about
$755 million while the Romney team reported about $710 million. It’s no secret
that the insane level of money raised for today’s campaigns is due in large
part to the cost of media advertising, especially television buys. Given that
the air waves belong to the public, it’s absurd that private corporations make
windfall profits off of campaign year advertising.
While most democratic countries allow some form of free advertising for
ballot qualified candidates, the United States has a “pay to play” system. The
result? Narrow choices for voters (third
parties can’t afford pay to play) and enhancing the power of the Super Pacs and
big donors to the Democrats and Republicans. In the past polls showed huge
support among the public for free air time, but status quo politicians won’t
move legislation forward and the Boesky broadcasters are in no hurry to put the
brakes on the gravy train.
Insider Fetishism: A group of high
profile political reporters recently told Politico
that they “loathe” covering the 2012 campaign. They are apparently tired of
being spun and manipulated by campaign flaks, fed daily sound bites instead of
substantive policy statements, and roped into covering silly controversies. So
locked into the Boesky mindset these reporters cannot even imagine doing things
that would whip the Dems and GOP into shape. Give serious coverage to the
platforms of Green Jill Stein, Libertarian Gary Johnson, and Constitutionalist VirgilGoode and you’ll force the Republicrats to grow up. But the third party
candidates aren’t insider approved candidates, making each persona non grata
for Boesky broadcasters.
Bottom Line Morality: On September 11th NBC broadcast an
interview with Kris Jenner (the Kardashian matriarch) about her breast implants
rather than observe a moment of silence for 9/11 victims. From a Boeskyian
perspective NBC’s choice makes total sense: mama Kardashian played up the “boob
tube” side of television, which is good for the bottom line. The inane coverage
of campaign ’12 is very much like that interview. Such is the consequence of
the Boesky broadcaster’s bottom line morality.