K2K3 - NOW MINT-FLAVORED!!!
Beast of the Month - May 2003
The Right-Wing Media Whores Coalition, Orwellian Propaganda Network
"I yam an anti-Christ..."
John Lydon (aka Johnny Rotten) of The Sex Pistols, "Anarchy in the UK"
Numerical value of the letters F-O-X.
On April 9, 2003, one of the most memorable images of Gulf War II was presented to the public: US troops tore down the statue of Saddam Hussein in the middle of Baghdad to a cheering mob of Iraqi people. The image seemed to give proof denouncing the opposition to the war by anti-war activists, as whatever the misgivings the Iraqi people may have had about the US invasion, they clearly celebrated the toppling of Saddam and his repressive regime.
There's only one problem with this: as revealed by NYC IndyMedia and InformationClearinghouse.info, Fardus Square (usually the bustling center of the city where the event took place) was nearly empty, sans for the small crowd shown celebrating the event. There's a reason for the emptiness: the square was sealed off by US armored tanks. Who were the cheering throngs the Pentagon let in? More than likely, it was members of the "Free Iraqi Forces" militia formed by the US-backed Iraqi National Congress founder Ahmed Chalabi, who were flown into Iraq three days earlier.
All of this is not to say that there wasn't some happiness among the Iraqi public about the removal from power of Saddam. What it does say, however, is that the event itself was a Potemkim celebration orchestrated and manufactured by the Pentagon. Further, this piece of propaganda doesn't appear to have been made to influence the opinions of the Iraqi people: it seemed to be aimed at the American people themselves, to convince them a war never fully supported by the public before it was launched was right after all.
Such an act of dishonesty, of course, should be expected from the team of Shrub, Donkey Dick and Redrum (or should we say Carlyle, Halliburton and Bechtel?) What is more telling is the Potemkim parade could have, and should have, easily been exposed for what it was by the korporate media, yet was not.
Okay, granted, as The Konformist pointed out last month, sequels almost always suck. Still, the coverage of Gulf War II was so abysmal, it made the reporting of Gulf War I seem blushingly honest in comparison. The US military was rushing into an unprovoked war of imperial aggression, and what was the media focusing on? "Freedom" fries, the dastardly French, Michael Moore and the Dixie Chicks, all for the sinister crime of not "supporting our troops" due to opposition of American soldiers risking their lives in a battle for oil.
There's a lot of people and organizations that deserve immense blame for the current situation. Of course, there are the usual suspects of the New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, CNN, Time and Newsweek. Perhaps a more innovative critique would fall upon John-John's George Magazine and Bill Maher's Politically Correct (not to mention his newer, even lamer show) for presenting politics with a non-political context, to reduce the debate of ideas to a pap-filled cult of celebrity. All would deserve any amount of contempt heaped upon them on normal circumstances.
"Normal" is not what is currently in vogue, however. It is the pathological which is the trend. What has been seen the past few months is of an even lower depth for the already loathsome field of journalism. The gleeful promotion of war masquerading as "news" represents a sickness in society, and it is no mere coincidence that the top promoter of pugnacious propaganda is also the heavy maker of Reality Television From Hell. While the RTFH feeds the Huxley-esque Appetite for Distraction, the warnography is a blatant form of Orwellian Appetite for Destruction. Brave New World or 1984, take your pick.
The forces behind this promotion are, for lack of a better term, the same forces behind the Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy. The well-financed fascist cabal that started its attack on society first by exploiting the Peckergate fiasco continued through the 2000 Votescam, went into overdrive after 911, and now in the rush for an overt American empire, have blasted off the Beastly charts. This team of people and groups could best be described as The Right-Wing Media Whores Coalition, and - unlike the bogus "Coalition of the Willing" - it is a true coalition of organized interests. And perhaps the greatest indictment of the RWMWC (The Konformist Beast of the Month) is that it could make some almost yearn for the days when the "liberal" establishment media had little opposition. (And say what you will about CNN, at least its current primetime anchor, Aaron Brown, seems to bend over backwards to appear fair to all.)
Where does one start in exposing the RWMWC? Let's go straight to the top. Just like in Gulf War I (which actually was backed by a real coalition as well) there is a single player at the apex of the pyramid: in this case, RUPERT MURDOCH. The Australian-born billionaire media mogul has formed with FOX NEWS a most impressive propaganda outlet for his reactionary politics. Run by "former" GOP-insider ROGER AILES, Fox, to its credit, has become an even more-watched "news" network than CNN thanks to its brash, unapologetically in-your-face style. Such a style is great for ratings, but isn't too good in getting people to think critically about relatively important issues like, say, war. Not that this is a priority for Murdoch and Ailes: more important is creating brand names to match Fox Entertainment's inane crapperpieces such as Temptation Island and Joe Millionaire. This they have done, promoting a news service with a smart-ass smirk through slogans such as "Fair and Balanced" and "We Report, You Decide" that prove words have little meaning in the new media reality. Leading the Fox onslaught is the top-rated BILL O'REILLY, whose "no-spin zone" is nothing but spin for his brand of angry white male conservatism. (Let's give Fox some credit: how they managed to turn a Levittown square into a poster-boy for cutting edge media is one of the most impressive sales jobs ever successfully completed.) Trailing him a bit is SEAN HANNITY, a blow-dried mouthpiece of little gravity teamed with punching bag "liberal" Alan Colmes. (Hannity is such a shameless cheerleader for the Republican Party that he makes O'Reilly look sincerely independent in comparison.) Meanwhile, in the prime-time anchor position is pathetic puppy SHEPARD SMITH, the Dan Quayle of news anchors, with formerly respected newsman BRIT HUME in the cleanup spot, having traded his credibility for cash in a Faustian bargain that first gave Fox any sense of legitimacy.
For Fox News alone, Rupert would deserve recognition for his promotion of Beasthood. (Actually, he'd deserve it merely for his shoddy treatment of Sandy Koufax, but that and his ownership of the Dodgers is another story.) But Murdoch also deserves credit as well for his NEW YORK POST, which has done to newspapers what Fox News has done to news networks. In this case, he is far from alone, for there are two other well-financed newspapers of note that have combined right-winged politics and bloodlust warmongering: the WASHINGTON TIMES (owned by wacky cult leader Reverend Moon) and the WALL STREET JOURNAL. Also to his bank balance credit is the magazine THE WEEKLY STANDARD (helmed by WILLIAM KRISTOL, a neo-con who amusingly was referred to as "Quayle's brain" during Dano's embarrassing stint as Vice-President.) The Standard has been the intellectual standard in presenting the hawk-like agenda of the Bush Team, of little surprise since Kristol is a major player in the neo-con Project for a New American Century.
So far, Murdoch's has avoided infiltration of the radio dial, but that hasn't stopped another player of the RWMWC to do the same: CLEAR CHANNEL COMMUNICATIONS, a radio behemoth which owns over 1,200 stations in the US, covering approximately half of the nation. (In 1996, before the Telecom "Deregulation" Act, the maximum allowed under law was 40.) Clear Channel was a major player in the Dixie Chick bashing, blacklisting their music from stations for Natalie Maines' solitary denouncement of Shrub during a European concert. It's a pretty disturbing development that a single company could control public airwaves to such a degree and then silence someone for its politics: making it even more suspicious is that Clear Channel Chairman LOWRY MAYS and Vice Chairman TOM HICKS have both been big-time business associates of Dubya. (In fact, Hicks is the man who bought the Texas Rangers from the consortium Shrub was part of, making Georgie boy a multi-millionaire.)
The RWMWC has also invaded the best-seller lists, in part by mass orders of "conservative" books by right-wing organizations to inflate sales and manufacture popularity. Besides O'Reilly and Hannity, there have been tomes by the repulsive ANN COULTER, who hit number one last year with Slander, a book that charmingly alleges a left-wing plot to viciously smear conservatives in the media. (She appears ready to one-up herself later this year with the even more cleverly titled Treason.) Hitting the top this year as well, meanwhile, was a psychotic screed by MICHAEL "WEINER" SAVAGE. (We still aren't sure if Weiner pronounces his real last name as "weener" or "whiner" - though either would be appropriate.) Weiner, a mouth-foamer who rants against minorities, immigrants, homosexuals, and any other disenfranchised group as part of a liberal conspiracy, has been rewarded with his own cable talk show on Fox competitor MSNBC.
Of course, the bookstore isn't the only place to influence people's minds: media columnists and talk-show circuit guests are even more effective in getting in people's face. A telling indictment of the times is that two of the most successful blatherers of deranged reactionary sentiments, former sixties radical turned cultural right-winger DAVID HOROWITZ and the self-hating homosexual conservative ANDREW SULLIVAN, are regular columnists of the supposedly liberal-biased Salon.com. Also of note in the op-ed pages and wonk circle: former Reagan and Poppy Bush speechwriter PEGGY NOONAN (who, in a curious display of "supporting our troops," wrote an article on March 31 cheering the possibility of mass casualties in Iraq as good for American morale) and former Reagan and Bush Cabinet member WILLIAM BENNETT (who also took time off from his Book of Virtue garbage to publish Why We Fight.)
Perhaps even more telling is that comedy, once the home of real rabble-rousers such as Lenny Bruce, George Carlin, Richard Pryor and Bill Hicks has been reduced to pathetic shills like DENNIS MILLER (who seems desperate in attempts to land a seat at Fox News after getting rightfully booted from Monday Night Football.)
(And, less we forget the O.G. of right-wing media, let's get it up for RUSH LIMBAUGH, the man whose radio and television shows - as well as his books - created the model for all who have followed. Say what you will about Rush, but you gotta hand it to him: at least when he started, he was an original.)
Has the Right-Wing Media Whores Coalition peaked? That's a good question. Keep in mind, the names listed above are merely a greatest hits package. A disturbing sign: the attempts to consolidate public media outlets in even fewer hands, a plan pushed in the FCC by chairman MICHAEL POWELL. Powell, Colin's bootlicking son, appears ready to retire any concept of public interest in fairly distributing its airwaves. Indeed, Powell's ambition to let corporations amass monopolistic control makes him arguably bigger than Murdoch in the RWMWC. Curiously, a major winner in the Powell sweepstakes would be Clear Channel, and the recent buyout of DirecTV by Murdoch for $6.6 billion (or is it $6.66?) was aided by a previous buyout by Echostar that was nullified by Powell and co. Few doubt the Murdoch-DirecTV deal will be nixed, though there are even more serious issues surrounding it than the Echostar deal rejected by the FCC. Is there some back-scratching going on here beyond mere politics?
There are some other disturbing signs in the air: the attempt to silence the Dixie Chicks, Michael Moore, Susan Sarandon and Tim Robbins appears to be a concerted effort to use McCarthy-era techniques to silence opponents of the Bush Junta. More telling is that even successful and popular alternatives to the RWMWC have been dumped: while MSNBC was introducing Mr. Weiner to cable news viewers, they cancelled the show hosted by Phil Donahue in the process (and say what you will about Donahue, he had their top-rated show, which makes the change seem less about chasing ratings than about sniveling to a scary political agenda.) Likewise, CNN's Crossfire has seen its ratings rise heavily since it introduced the more pugnacious duo of James Carville and Paul Begala. Despite this (or perhaps because of it) CNN has oddly changed the airing time of its lone recent success to a lower profile hour.
But here is where there is a silver lining. For all the attacks heaped on him - or perhaps because of it as well - Michael Moore followed his Oscar award and rightful mockery of Bush from the Academy stage with his book Stupid White Men returning to number one. Furthermore, The Dixie Chicks may have been dissed by Clear Channel, but their album has had excellent sales after the controversy, thank you very much. And to their credit, there have been numerous writers (most notably Greg Palast, Paul Krugman of the New York Times and Eric Alterman, author of What Liberal Media?) as well as many noted websites (Mediawhoresonline.com, Online Journal, Guerrilla News Network and others) which have benefited from questioning the increasing shrill, pro-war and right-wing tone overtaking the korporate media. Indeed, it is clear by the hysterical tone of the right when it denounces Natalie Maines et al that it is motivated by a fear their empty arguments can't win a fair fight. A fair fight may soon develop: there is also plans for a "liberal" radio network by wealthy Democratic Party donors. (And while The Konformist views this development with skepticism, just for the sake of any sense of balance, it is a good thing.) Will the Emperor be revealed as wearing no clothes? Stay tuned.
In any case, we salute The Right-Wing Media Whores Coalition as Beast of the Month. Congratulations, and keep up the great work, dudes!!!
The Right-Wing Media Whores Coalition
NEW YORK POST
WALL STREET JOURNAL
THE WEEKLY STANDARD
CLEAR CHANNEL COMMUNICATIONS
MICHAEL "SAVAGE" WEINER
DAVID HOROWITZ & ANDREW SULLIVAN
Websites to visit:
Thanks also to Paul Krugman of the New York Times and Eric Alterman's What Liberal Media? for their work.
Update: On June 2, 2003, the Federal Communications Commission approved the proposed changes to telecommunications regulations by a heavily split 3-2 vote, despite widespread public opposition. Stay tuned even more...
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