Sunday, May 26, 2013
Public Broadcasting Goes Private -- A Sad Story Just Keeps Getting Worse
The grand experiment in publicly funded broadcasting begun by Democratic President Lyndon Johnson and a Liberal Congress to uplift, enrich and inform the American public has failed. The Liberal belief, the product of Marxist thought, that society won't benefit if everything is left up to the market, has lost favor as both political parties have become more conservative since PBS was initiated in the late 1960s. Public media's funding has been slashed again and again, and it has relied more and more on corporate sponsorship, and shown more deference to its corporate funders in terms of programming.
It's been noted how PBS, which funds public TV and pubic radio, never does a story critical of Archer Daniels Midland or its other primary funders. Bill Gates comes to mind. As the conservatism that's now entrenched in both major parties has became more emboldened, its attempts to control the PBS message have increased. Recall how George W Bush installed a PBS head who hired private investigators to monitor programming for Liberal content.
I wrote recently about the hatchet job done on Venezuelan Socialism by Steve Inskeep, the NPR morning show host, and about how, if you wanted to get biased information about Venezuela you'd go straight to Rory Carroll, the Guardian's former Latin America correspondent, which is exactly what Inskeep did.
Inskeep was purportedly in Venezuala to cover its presidential elections, but we heard almost nothing about the election. Instead Inskeep, under the guidance of Carroll and representatives of the Venezuelan oligarchy, taxied out to a few places around Caracas that were supposed to demonstrate the failure of Venezuelan Socialism, which, coincidentally, the conservative US government on behalf of US Capitalism is doing all in its power to discredit and destroy, lest it set a good example for docile Americans and threaten the profits of Capitalism.
Near the top of the Capitalist dogheap right now sit the notorious Koch brothers, who are also among PBS' biggest funders, and the revelations this week about how one of them censored PBS programming that held him in bad light is just the latest sad news in an ongoing, sad, story.
It's also another chapter in a bigger story, about how Capitalism perpetuates itself. Its relentless, inherent tendency toward monopolization has resulted in a US media that's virtually all in the hands of a handful of corporations, six of them -- and this includes ownership by the same corporations of newspapers, television networks and television stations, radio stations, and the film and music industries, and now PBS -- and along with that, the message Americans get, the ideas they are exposed to, the information they get, the range of interpretation and critique of news and ideas and politics, becomes more and more limited, and more of what Capitalism thinks will make us better consumers and more docile workers.
Or would that be more docile consumers and better workers? Take your pick. Think about it. If you can.