"I've always thought the american eagle needed a left wing and a right wing. The right wing would see to it that economic interests had their legitimate concerns addressed. The left wing would see to it that ordinary people were included in the bargain. and both would keep the great bird on course. but with two right wings or two left wings, it's no longer an eagle and it's going to crash" - Bill Moyers speaking this weekend at the National Conference for Media Reform in St. Louis, MO.
...Media news group has initiated a near total blackout on coverage of the election fraud issue, an issue that could potentially remove the republicans from office, thereby resulting in the election of a government less friendly to loosening of FCC cross ownership law, severely hampering their ability to merge, acquire and thus grow. This could force them to divest themselves of properties, limit their ability to control advertising rates and information, destroy their growth potential. That is, if fraud where proven and the elections invalidated...
...This intervention by American police to shut down antiwar web sites has been widely reported in Europe, with accounts carried in the British Guardian and Independent and by the French news agency Agence France-Presse, among others. But nothing has appeared as yet in the American mass media. This silence only underscores the role of the American corporate media as the accomplice of the Bush administration’s attacks on democratic rights, both at home and abroad...
NEW YORK, January 17, 2004 -- The nearly 100 million viewers expected to tune in to next month's Super Bowl on CBS will be served up ads that include everything from beer and bikinis to credit cards and erectile dysfunction.
They will also see two spots from the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy. What's missing from America's premiere marketing spectacle will be an anti-Bush ad put forth by upstart advocacy group MoveOn.org. The group had hoped to buy airtime to run "Child's Pay", a 30-second ad that criticizes the Bush administration's run-up of the federal deficit.
CBS on Thursday rejected a request from MoveOn to air the 30-second spot, saying "Child's Pay" violated the network's policy against accepting advocacy advertising, a company spokesperson told reporters.
At the same time, CBS is allowing ads placed on the docket by the White House's anti-drug office. For the third year in a row the White House has paid between $1.5 and $3 million each for 30-second spots during the broadcast. The 2004 ads, produced for the White House by Ogilvy & Mather are expected to convey a message similar to their previous Super Bowl spots. While CBS would not reveal the content of the upcoming ads, previous White House Super Bowl spots drew a controverial link between casual drug use and the financing of global terrorists.
Writing about the previous ads, LA Weekly media critic Judith Miller reported that their message plays well into Bush's anti-terror campaign because it keeps ordinary citizens under siege and the war on terror central in their minds -- an objective which in 2004 serves the president's re-election strategy well.
CBS does not consider the White House ads to cross the line of advocacy. "We are fallible human beings who do not have Solomon-like wisdom but try to make rational decisions based on the ads we receive," Martin Franks, executive vice president of CBS told MediaChannel. "Taking into account the deep pockets in play in this election we don't want to appear to favor one side over the other."
MoveOn is now working the "back channels" at CBS, either via local affiliates or through others within the network to get "Child's Pay" on during the Super Bowl this year, said Wes Boyd, MoveOn co-founder. Boyd claimed that the networks do place advocacy ads during the Super Bowl. Moveon.org worked with Washington's local ABC affiliate WJLA in 2003 to air "daisy" -- an ad based on the famous Lyndon Johnson 1964 campaign commercial -- which urged President Bush to let the UN Iraqi inspections work.
"It's not clear to me that the White House ad is a PSA as opposed to advocacy ad," Boyd said. "This is about CBS and where they draw the line. It's very arbitrary and capricious when certain ads are accepted while others are not. The networks don't reveal their guidelines leaving the public unaware of the process."
Franks would not comment when asked about previous White House Super Bowl ads that equated the war on drugs to the war on terror. These ads appeared in 2002 on the Fox network, which aired the NFL championship that year, and in 2003, on ABC.
Franks would not reveal the content of the White House ads planned for CBS' February 1 broadcast. As a matter of policy CBS does not comment on ad submissions in advance of broadcast, Franks said, adding that there is "a thorough vetting of every ad that appears on CBS. End of sentence."
MoveOn.org has run afoul of Viacom, CBS' parent company, in the past. In February 2003, the grass-roots advocacy group-solicited donations from its email members to raise $75,000 to place an anti-war ad on billboards in four major American markets. The group claims that they raised the amount from members in two hours. When they approached Viacom Outdoor -- a division of Viacom and the largest outdoor-advertising entity in North America -- the company refused to post the ads, according to MoveOn.
In March 2003 MTV, another Viacom-owned entity, refused to accept a commercial opposing war in Iraq, citing a similar policy against advocacy spots that it says protects the channel from having to run ads from any cash-rich interest group whose cause may be loathsome. "The decision was made years ago that we don't accept advocacy advertising because it really opens us up to accepting every point of view on every subject," Graham James, a spokesman at MTV told the New York Times. The youth-oriented music station regularly airs recruitment ads for the U.S. Army.
According to Adage.com, Super Bowl 2004 will also include product spots for AOL, Bayer and GlaxoSmithKline, Daimler Chrysler, FedEx, FritoLay, GM, H&R Block, Monster WorldWide, the NFL, Pepsi Cola, Philip Morris, Procter & Gamble, Sony Pictures, Touchstone Pictures, Universal Studios, Visa USA, and Warner Brothers.
A survey of 1,000 adults conducted last year by Eisner Communications found that 14 percent of those viewing the Super Bowl watch just for the ads.
-- Timothy Karr is Executive Director of MediaChannel and Director of Media For Democracy, MediaChannel's 2004 citizens' initiative to monitor media coverage of the presidential elections.
...When an administration is hiding in a no-news bunker, how do you find the news? The first place to look, we're starting to learn, is any TV news show on which Ms. Rice, Mr. Card, Dick Cheney, Colin Powell and Donald Rumsfeld are not appearing. If they're before a camera, you can assume that the White House has deemed the venue a safe one — a spin zone, if you will. They will proceed to obfuscate or dissemble at will, whether they're talking to Oprah, local anchors or a Sunday morning network chat-show host.
A TV news venue that the administration spurns entirely, by contrast, stands a chance of providing actual, fresh, accurate information. There have been at least two riveting examples this month. Ms. Rice, Mr. Powell and Mr. Rumsfeld all refused to be interviewed for an Oct. 9 PBS "Frontline" documentary about the walkup to the Iraq war. Yet without their assistance, "Frontline" nonetheless fingered Ahmad Chalabi as an administration source for its pre-war disinformation about weapons of mass destruction and the Qaeda-Saddam link. It also reported that the administration had largely ignored its own state department's prescient "Future of Iraq" project — a decision that helped lead to our catastrophic ill-preparedness for Iraq's post-Saddam chaos. "Frontline" didn't have to resort to leaks for these revelations, either: the sources were on-camera interviews with Lt. Gen. Jay Garner, our first interim leader in Iraq, and Mr. Chalabi himself...
...John Hogan, the president of Clear Channel radio and his rival Joel Hollander, president of Infinity, were available to meet attendees, but only those who had paid up to $895 to attend the gathering, at a special "super session."
Hogan told his audience that the radio multinational was there to provide consumers with what they wanted. "It is really the audience that is the litmus test. I have certain opinions and political beliefs. It shouldn't be up to me, it is up to the community," he said.
Not every member of the audience at the super session agreed with Clear Channel's philosophy. Patrick Clawson, a local reporter, stood up to challenge Hogan.
"Since Clear Channel came into our community and consolidated the stations there, and began to take up a wide share of revenue from that market, Clear Channel has eliminated entirely the local news department from those stations. Clear Channel now broadcasts news that originates from Baltimore over 100 miles away, and that centralized news agency has never had a reporter in our community," he said.
"We had a industrial plant accident in our area not long ago, where the plant manager called the stations at about 3 o'clock in the morning because they need to get the word out to tell the community about the accident and also to advise the employees not to come into work, but he was greeted with an employee [of Clear Channel] who said: 'Sorry, all our programs are delivered by satellite, and we can't anything on air until six in the morning.' With the elimination of local programming, how does this method of operation serve the public interest?" added Clawson.
Hogan declined to reply to the question but media activists, who attended the convention were eager to explain: "The problem with Clear Channel having so much market power is that they start to be able to control the outcomes of the competition that they are in," says Pete Tridish, founder of the Philadelphia-based Prometheus Radio Project, which supports community FM stations around the world.
"When you have a company that not only owns one radio station but eight radio stations in one town plus all the billboards and all the concert venues, and all the promotion machinery, suddenly they have a level of power that their competitors have no way to compete with. Once their competitor are out of business they have free reign to do just about anything that they please, that is the same just as any other other monopoly."
Indeed Hogan's comments also contradicted the opinions of Lowry Mays, the founder of Clear Channel: "If anyone said we were in the radio business, it wouldn't be someone from our company. We're not in the business of providing news and information. We're not in the business of providing well-researched music. We're simply in the business of selling our customers products..."
"Long before the Federal Communications Commission narrowly approved six rule changes that would allow big media to get dramatically bigger, Wisconsin's congressional delegation was sounding warning bells about the threat to democracy posed by schemes that would create a one-size-fits-all media...
...Now comes an even more important decision in the Senate. On Monday, senators will vote on a bipartisan resolution - sponsored by North Dakota Democrat Byron Dorgan and Mississippi Republican Trent Lott - to rescind all six rule changes. If the resolution succeeds, it will create new pressure on the House to do the same..."
"CNN's top war correspondent, Christiane Amanpour, says that the press muzzled itself during the Iraq war. And, she says CNN "was intimidated" by the Bush administration and Fox News, which "put a climate of fear and self-censorship."
As criticism of the war and its aftermath intensifies, Amanpour joins a chorus of journalists and pundits who charge that the media largely toed the Bush administrationline in covering the war and, by doing so, failed to aggressively question the motives behind the invasion..."
>According to the Washington Post, "...some 50 journalists and camera
crews, along with a dozen aides and as many Secret Service agents,
piled into a half-dozen white vans for the drive to the heavily
fortified Bush ranch" where they loaded up on "beer from coolers and
Australian (read: not French) red wine," not to mention "fried
chicken, potato salad, coleslaw, jalapeno biscuits and peach cobbler."
And what was discussed at this little shindig?
I'm afraid we can't tell you, because Bush insisted that all
conversations were strictly off the record.
"...But here's a revealing fact: In early 1968, the Boston Globe conducted a
survey of 39 major US daily newspapers and found that not a single one had
editorialised in favour of US withdrawal from Vietnam. While millions of
Americans were demanding an immediate pullout, such a concept was still
viewed as extremely unrealistic by the editorial boards of big daily papers
c including the liberal New York Times and Washington Post..."