Take us to your leader®. Then take us to your reader®.
How it works? [Click here]
Who we are
Our Agenda

Latest News
Good & Bad News

101 Palestinian History
Link & Resources
The Valley Galleria
nileMedia Reader

Join US
Contact Us

January 12, 2000
Media Titans Paint Another Guernica

By Ahmed Amr.


This last election season, the candidates from the Republican and Democratic parties spent over three billion dollars to get the attention of the American voter, a 50% increase over the 1996 campaign. Most Americans are aware that corporations and special interest groups pick up most of the tab for both parties. No doubt, much of this money is spent in the hope of acquiring a degree of influence and access over the men and women who are charged with formulating domestic and foreign policy.

I recall when a reporter asked Keating, the fall man in the Savings and Loans scandal, if he had intended to effect the "Keating Five" Senators with his generous campaign donations. His answer was "I certainly hope so."

You can bet every pilfered S&L dollar that the special interest groups have already sent their top dogs to fight any meaningful change to the way campaigns are currently financed. There is one particular industry that bears close scrutiny in its lobbying efforts against campaign finance reform. It is the media industry, a formidable oligopoly that has come to wield enormous influence with both the general public and our political leaders.

Consider that Mr. Graham, chief executive of the Washington Post Company, recently spoke of the "political advertising bonanza at six Post-Newsweek television stations" (NYT, 12/11/2000). Campaign season is a windfall for the barons of the corporate media. Not only do they get a huge slice of the three billion dollar pie, but advertising rates also soar for both the political candidates and the car salesmen. On top of that, they get all those "free feeds" from the conventions and the primaries. This campaign season, due to the close vote in Florida, their ratings soared to a level surpassed only by the Gulf War, further enriching bottom line revenues.

The Media lords are not about to walk away from all that gravy. They will fight any reform laws with a vengeance. So, every American is urged to be alert for biased reporting of this critical legislation. There is already a concerted effort to prevent Senator McCain for putting campaign financing at the top of the Senate's agenda.

If anyone still harbor doubts about the danger of the mass media’s control of the American political agenda, consider the recent reports of Murdoch’s deals with China. The New York Times reported on Jan 10, 2001 that "Mr. Murdoch has worked hard to restore relations with Beijing since angering the country’s Communist Party elders with his anti-totalitarian remark made in 1993 shortly after he bought the Star TV satellite network." Note that among his other properties, Murdoch owns FOX, the New York Post and the London Times. He also happens to own HarperCollins, the infamous book publishers that gave Newt Ginrich his five million-dollar advance.

The Times article also had the following revelation: "Since making the statement, Mr. Murdoch has quietly steered his media empire away from confrontation with China, a potentially huge market that is still closed to foreign media. In 1994, he removed BBC news broadcasts from his Star TV lineup and softened the television network’s other news offerings. He later sold the South China Morning Post of Hong Kong, a Newspaper often critical of Beijing, to a pro-Beijing businessman. And last year, the News Corporation’s HarperCollins subsidiary canceled a contract to publish the memoirs of Hong Kong’s last colonial governor, Chris Patten, whom Beijing abhors."

While the mass media pundits were out hunting Chads, Murdoch was working a deal with China over content. While the media was ranting on about dimples, most Americans were left to marvel at how the two parties have the system in a lockbox all the way down to the precint level. We discovered all kinds of wonders about our political process.

We still get one vote, but the Democrats and Republicans decide what the ballots look like. They get to set the criteria for who gets on the ballot. They also frame the narrow spectrum of issues that the campaign will revolve around, with ample guidance from the media titans. These two entrenched parties also had the power to deny third party candidates, like Nader, a seat at the presidential debate and to prevent him from even attending the debate. Again, this blatantly undemocratic feat was accomplished with the able assistance of a few arrogant men who have come to control the international media empires.

When you paint the whole canvas of how the media titans have come to dominate the political decision-making process, it is as disturbing as Picasso’s Guernica. Part of the canvass has CNN’s Ted Turner paying the American dues to the United Nations, with Ambassador Hollbrooke and Senator Jesse Helms relegated to playing the role of mediators. Then over in another corner, Murdoch is busy making all kinds of "media arrangements" that will suit the Chinese government. How exactly would FOX have covered the slaughter of students at Tianemen Square under the terms of the current "sweetheart deal" with the elders of the Chinese Communist Party?

In the middle of the canvas, the "journalists" at the New York Times Publishing Company are busy hiding the evidence of fifty years of Israeli brutality against the Palestinians. A bit over to the side, you see Graham of the Washington Post Company assuring the Russian ambassador that Chechnya will be totally ignored. He is leading a delegation that includes the Chairmen of CBS, ABC and NBC who are there to lobby the Russians for stricter compliance in the Anglo-American embargo against Iraq. The deal is a straightforward exchange, the lives of half a million Iraqi children for a Russian reign of terror in Chechnya.

Ignore all the media fuss about chads and dimples. The real problem in America today is not about the right to vote or whether your vote counts. The real problem is about the right to run for office. Any multi-millionaire can win if he is willing to squander his inheritance on running for office. If you don't have that kind of loot, you are required to pay your dues climbing the ranks at one of the two major parties and paying homage to their corporate sponsors.

We now have a political system that has been entirely ruined by money. Three billion dollars works out to a nice color TV for each undecided voter. Money can't buy you happiness, but if you have serious coin, you can always rent a congressman or a Senator to legislate something that will make you happy.

Next camping season, the networks and newspapers should be required to import real journalist from England, Australia and Canada and set their "spin" crews to sea, after providing them with absentee ballots. Hollywood stars should be limited to endorsing salad dressing and Nikes, unless they have a law degree from Stamford, in which case they can endorse only their closest relatives. Individual citizens should be limited to contributing $500 to any campaign. No corporate donations should be allowed. No union donations, so the corporations don’t use unions as an excuse for political corruption. Most important, candidates will be allowed to solicit and receive funds only from residents of the states they are running in. Exit polling should be made a felony offense.

Any campaign money that is remotely tied to the interests of a foreign government should be strictly prohibited. Finally, FOX should recuse itself from covering campaign 2004. Campaign reforms are absolutely essential, lest the elders of the Chinese Communist Party insist on Al Gore as their candidate for the next election. As for the Palestinians, they are well advised to demand that the New York Times be given a seat at the Peace Conference as a party that has long been a belligerent in the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. In the meantime, every American should demand swift and draconian campaign finance laws.


  January 13, 2001