An analysis of how global news corporations control the access to information was aired last week – but chances are most of us in this country didn’t catch it.
Eighty-year-old veteran US journalist Dan Rather told Bill Maher’s Real Time show (available only through YouTube or as a bitTorrent file) that he was sacked in 2004 by his corporate boss CBS after reporting George W Bush’s appalling national service record in the Vietnam war. As records show, Bush went AWOL in the National Guard for a year after being given a plum post because of his family connections.
‘Everybody should be concerned about this,’ Rather said, of censorship and control.
‘There are no more than six – my count is four – who control more than 80 per cent of the true national distribution of news.
‘Now, these large corporations have things they need from the power structures in Washington, whether it’s Republican or Democrat. Big business is in bed with big government, and this has more to do with the average person reads, sees, hears than most people know...’ He goes on to say that the corporatisation and the politicisation of news has led to the trivialisation of the news.
There was a time, he says, when corporations saw news, at least in part, as a public service. ‘The firewall between the news division and the corporate structure has now disappeared.’
Maher agreed, and made the point that news was a loss leader (much like the Coles and Woolies milk wars).
‘In the old days, news didn’t have to make money,’ Maher said. ‘The Beverley Hillbillies made money, so that meant you could do what you do.’ Rather added that this was the case for CBS news until fairly recently. ‘With constant consolidation, ultimately under the Viacom flag, that’s when it went all out the window.’
Honest brokers of information are becoming far less fashionable these days, but controlling the flow is not a fait accompli. Basically this means maintaining scepticism and suspending beliefs on all things driven by corporations.
The late comedian Bill Hicks said it best: ‘Go back to bed America, your government is in control. Here, here’s American Gladiators. Watch this, shut up, go back to bed America, here is American Gladiators, here is 56 channels of it. Watch these pituitary retards bang their fucking skulls together and congratulate you on living in the land of freedom. Here you go America – you are free to do what we’ll tell you! You are free to do what we tell you!’