When our constitution was written, and for the country's first 150 years there were many competing newspapers. A town like Albuquerque would have had several newspapers, big cities a dozen or two. But most US newspapers have folded. Something like six corporations control something like 80 percent of media content -- newspapers, TV, movies, music, all of it.
The concentration of media ownership poses a threat not only to Democrats' blood pressure but to democracy, and all the civil rights and liberties necessary for it and commensurate with it, because truth and falsehood can't grapple. We now have just one paper here in Albuquerque. An evolving blogosphere and internet based alternative media threaten to even things out -- if, and only if, congress can be forced into resisting ongoing pressure from big businesses to privatize the internet. That is, if we get off our asses and put pressure on congress.
A frightening story is emerging having to do with one of the country's most prestigious newspapers, the Los Angeles Times, where a political cartoonist was recently fired because the police union said so. The police union has that kind of power because it owns the Times -- rather, it owns $30 million worth of stock in the Tribune Company, which owns the LA Times, making it one of the LA Times' primary owners.
|Ted Rall cartoon - rall.com|
(Rall was interviewed about the case on the Counterpunch podcast and has written about it at his blog.)
It began when Rall wrote an LA Times blog post about an incident that happened 14 years ago, when a LA cop stopped him for jaywalking and proceeded to rough him up and handcuff him, prompting several passersby to stop and criticize the police officer. The police saw the post and went back and dug up an audio tape of the arrest and gave it to the paper's editors. The paper fired Rall and even went to the unusual length of publishing a blurb saying Rall had been fired for lying in the paper and would never work for the Times again. The blub would have been a death knoll for Rall's career.
The problems was, in justifying why it was firing him an editor had emailed Rall a copy of the recording. When people who knew of Rall's work found out about him being fired, Rall says, several of them contacted him saying they were audio engineers and that they'd like to go over the recording, which is several seconds of clear audio followed by several minutes of street noise. When they cleaned it up, it backed up Rall's version of events. He's now trying to get his job back, and if he doesn't says he will go to court. He says the paper is ignoring him so far. Rall also thinks the cops who roughed him up should be fired for lying.
Rall's research led him to the police union's ownership of the paper. He says the police union, which has a huge pension fund, has deliberately embarked on a campaign of buying media stock; soon after buying a stake in the San Diego paper it got half that paper's editorial board fired, he says, for not being "police friendly."
The Imminent End Of Venezuela
"As the country’s economy goes from bad to worse, writers about Venezuela are running out of modifiers to describe the situation: imploding, reeling, collapsing."If you follow Venezuela in the US media you know it will soon collapse under the weight of Socialism and Socialist mismanagement, probably before the end of the week. Venezuela's collapse has been being predicted since Hugo Chavez began taking Venezuela on a Socialist course not long after his first election in 1998. The quote at the beginning of this post is from a blog from January. Some of the headlines currently on my Google news page section on Venezuela are:
"Venezuela's disastrous course" (CNN)
"Venezuela's food shortage keeps getting worse" (Business Insider)
"Venezuela is tilting toward a major social crises" (Business Insider)
"Venezuela congressional election: campaign amid chaos" (Miami Herald)
Venezuela is of course in the US government's sights for a number of reasons, but all are related to the Monroe Doctrine, the longstanding attitude of the US Capitalist ruling class that Latin America is supposed to be their feudal colony. Venezuela has been leading a movement to independence from US dominance in Latin America that has resulted in the region rejecting the Monroe Doctrine and building its own institutions of economic and security cooperation. The US government on behalf of US Capitalism is of course trying to subvert the movement and the US mainstream media has been their propaganda arm to that end.
The same goes on in US media coverage of Russia, China, or any other country that represents a challenge to US led Capitalist global hegemony. It reflects the narrative many of us adhere to that sees US actions on the international stage as benign and those of other countries as malignant. Fortunately there are alternative news sources quickly accessible on the internet now where they don't buy into such a narrative.
Note: Ted Rall, who besides his cartoon work has been a foreign correspondent and columnist, has just written a biography of Edward Snowden, due out August 25th, that goes into Snowden's formative years and also into how Snowden grappled with his obligations to the NSA and to the American public at large. It's on Amazon already. It says on his web site you can get an autographed copy from Rall, but that link isn't live yet. This is the cover: