Sunday, January 11, 2004

Why We Need To Downsize Big Media

Though I'll admit it's certainly not in Rupert Murdoch's self-interest for Howard Dean to become the next president, since Dean has vowed to break up Big Media, I'm still somewhat outraged, though also humored and ironically pleased, about the latest development at Fox News, which Tom Tomorrow has posted as a screenshot, and which makes the case for Dean and the rest of us better than anything else on why media concentration of ownership is a danger to the truth and America.

What is it? Well, you should go take a look at it, but the gist of it is that Fox had a news alert today that Howard Dean lost his temper! God forbid! As I mentioned the other day, one possibly could try to make an issue of this, in a perfect world, but in this world if Howard Dean runs for president he will be running against George W. Bush, who, wouldn't you know it, also has a quick temper and, even more well known, a mean streak.

Not only that, but George Washington himself had a terrible temper, along with Andrew Jackson and God knows how many other presidents, and that didn't result in chaos and catastrophe. In fact, Dean acknowledges he has a quick fuse most of his life, and it's clear from his governing record in Vermont, which is superior, that it hasn't bothered him.

Ultimately, if Howard Dean were running against Abraham Lincoln, a gentle man, then maybe this would have some meaning. But, since he's running against George W. Bush, you may as well criticize him for being a former governor, or for being a man - two other things Dean has in common with George W. Bush.

In any case, how a candidate for the presidency, even before the first caucus or primary, could possibly force a news alert on a major network, just on the notion that he "lost his temper", is beyond explanation in an adult, modern free democracy.

The bottom line is that this is pure politics, slanted toward a particular ideology, following the lead of a coordinated effort by right wing interests and the Republican Party to spin the meme that "Dean has a temper", and is thus unfit to be president. For these private interests, this kind of campaigning is well within their rights, though seemingly less helpful than would seem worth the effort, since their own guy has the same quality. On the other hand, for a major American television network to promote these "talking points", and promoting one-sided campaign "propaganda", essentially "taking sides", is beyond the pale.

It's time to downsize Big Media. No owner - corporate, government, or otherwise - should control more than 25% of media. I'd like to hear Howard Dean bring that, and scare Murdoch further into proving better than anyone the clear danger of Big Media. We need a free and independent media - not a mouthpiece for official or partisan truth.


(or, if you're going to presume to be "fair and balanced", at the very least be equally blatantly partisan...where's the Howard Dean talking points?)