Reviving the ‘Liberal Media’ Myth

Exclusive: The Republicans and the Right have dragged out an old favorite whipping boy the “liberal media” to distract the voters from the failure of some GOP presidential candidates to answer a few tough questions, a tried-and-untrue exercise in political diversion, writes Robert Parry.

By Robert Parry

In the wake of last week’s CNBC-sponsored Republican presidential debate and its alleged “gotcha questions” the GOP and the Right are reviving their treasured myth of the “liberal media,” a claim that has been politically significant but almost entirely fictitious. There is not now nor really was there ever a “liberal media.”

Generations back, Americans understood that the major newspapers were owned by very rich men and generally represented their class interests. The wealthy owners would deploy their media properties to advance their mostly conservative and pro-business/anti-labor viewpoints.

Talk-radio host Rush Limbaugh

Talk-radio host Rush Limbaugh

There were always exceptions to this rule, but few Americans in the 1940s, for instance, would have considered the press “liberal,” with President Franklin Roosevelt garnering less than a quarter of newspaper endorsements in his last two races and President Harry Truman getting only about 15 percent in 1948.

The modern myth of the “liberal press” originated in the 1950s when many reporters in the national news media displayed sympathy for the idea that African-Americans deserved equal rights with white people.

Though some prominent journalists and many newspapers (especially but not solely in the South) supported racial segregation, many reporters (principally but not only from the North) wrote critically about Jim Crow laws and racist attitudes. A negative media spotlight was cast on the lynching of black men, brutality toward civil rights activists and violence by whites to keep black children out of previously all-white schools.

Northern reporters, for example, descended on Tallahatchie County, Mississippi, for the trial and acquittal of two white men for the 1955 murder of Emmett Till, a 14-year-old black youth who supposedly had flirted with a white woman. The critical coverage led the state’s whites to plaster their cars with bumper stickers reading, “Mississippi: The Most Lied About State in the Union.” [For more on the media’s coverage of the civil rights movement, see David Halberstam’s The Fifties. Or Taylor Branch’s Parting the Waters.]

In the 1960s, the U.S. mainstream media largely favored the Vietnam War, but skeptical reporting about U.S. tactics from burning down villages and saturation bombing campaigns to the use of Agent Orange defoliants, assassinations under the CIA’s Operation Phoenix and the massacre at My Lai angered war supporters who viewed such journalism as undercutting the war effort.

By the late 1960s, the white backlash against racial integration gave rise to Richard Nixon’s Southern Strategy and his Silent Majority’s resentment of critical coverage of the Vietnam War strengthened Nixon’s political hand. Nixon personally had a huge chip on his shoulder about what he regarded as hostile press coverage, so he helped infuse the Republican Party with contempt for the “liberal media.”

The 1970s and 1980s

The landmark media events of the 1970s the publication of the Pentagon Papers secret history of the Vietnam War, investigation of Nixon’s Watergate scandal, and revelations about the CIA’s “Family Jewels” secrets  pretty much sealed this image of a “liberal” press corps that would not reliably defend the actions of the U.S. government.

But this news coverage that so infuriated the Right and many Republicans was not “liberal”; it was accurate. It was a fleeting moment when American journalists were doing what the Founders had in mind with the First Amendment, informing the people about actions by their government so the people could have a meaningful say in controlling what the government was doing.

Nevertheless, the Right’s “liberal media” myth proved to be a powerful ideological weapon, wielded against reporters who uncovered unflattering information about right-wing policies and politicians. These reporters were deemed “unpatriotic,” “un-American,” a “blame-America-firster,” or just “liberal” for short.

I witnessed how this phenomenon played out in the 1980s. Contrary to the “liberal media” myth, the senior executives of news organizations that I dealt with were almost universally conservative or neoconservative.

At the Associated Press, its most senior executive, general manager Keith Fuller, gave a 1982 speech in Worcester, Massachusetts, hailing Reagan’s election in 1980 as a worthy repudiation of the excesses of the 1960s and a necessary corrective to the nation’s lost prestige of the 1970s. Fuller cited Reagan’s Inauguration and the simultaneous release of 52 U.S. hostages in Iran on Jan. 20, 1981, as a national turning point in which Reagan had revived the American spirit.

“As we look back on the turbulent Sixties, we shudder with the memory of a time that seemed to tear at the very sinews of this country,” Fuller said, adding that Reagan’s election represented a nation “crying, ‘Enough.’

“We don’t believe that the union of Adam and Bruce is really the same as Adam and Eve in the eyes of Creation. We don’t believe that people should cash welfare checks and spend them on booze and narcotics. We don’t really believe that a simple prayer or a pledge of allegiance is against the national interest in the classroom.

“We’re sick of your social engineering. We’re fed up with your tolerance of crime, drugs and pornography. But most of all, we’re sick of your self-perpetuating, burdening bureaucracy weighing ever more heavily on our backs.”

Fuller’s sentiments were not uncommon in the executive suites of major news organizations, where Reagan’s reassertion of an aggressive U.S. foreign policy was especially welcomed. At The New York Times, executive editor Abe Rosenthal, an early neocon, vowed to steer his newspaper back “to the center,” by which he meant to the right.

There was also a social dimension to this journalistic retreat. For instance, The Washington Post’s longtime publisher Katharine Graham found the stresses of high-stakes adversarial journalism unpleasant. Plus, it was one thing to take on the socially inept Richard Nixon; it was quite another to challenge the socially adroit Ronald and Nancy Reagan, whom Mrs. Graham personally liked.

The Graham family embraced neoconservatism, too, favoring aggressive policies against Moscow and unquestioned support for Israel. Soon, The Washington Post and Newsweek editors were reflecting those family prejudices.

I encountered that reality when I moved from AP to Newsweek in 1987 and found executive editor Maynard Parker, in particular, hostile to journalism that put Reagan’s Cold War policies in a negative light. I had been involved in breaking much of the Iran-Contra scandal at the AP, but I was told at Newsweek that “we don’t want another Watergate.” The fear apparently was that the political stresses from another constitutional crisis around a Republican president might shatter the nation’s political cohesion and would not be “good for the country.”

Building a Right-Wing Media

Still, the notion of a “liberal media” persisted, getting even more absurd as the years went by. Under President Reagan, the recurring complaint on the Right about the “liberal media” gave rise to an overtly right-wing media a vertically integrated structure from newspapers, magazines and book publishing to talk radio, TV networks and later the Internet.

By the 1990s, this right-wing media was arguably the most important political force in the United States, with talk-show host Rush Limbaugh working as a national precinct chairman for the GOP, rallying conservatives behind various causes and candidates. When the Republicans won control of Congress in 1994, they made Limbaugh an honorary member of the GOP caucus.

The same was true in the upper reaches of corporate media. Collaborating directly with Republican politicians since the 1980s, Rupert Murdoch built a massive media empire based on newspapers (including now the Wall Street Journal), magazines (such as The Weekly Standard), book publishing (HarperCollins) and TV (most notably Fox News).

But Murdoch was far from the only network chieftain to be an ardent Republican. On Election Night 2000, General Electric Chairman Jack Welch revealed a favoritism for George W. Bush while visiting the election desk of GE’s NBC News subsidiary. In front of the NBC staff, Welch rooted for a Bush victory, asking apparently in jest, “how much would I have to pay you to call the race for Bush?” according to witnesses.

Later, after Fox News declared Bush the winner, Welch allegedly asked the chief of the NBC election desk why NBC was not doing the same, a choice NBC did make and then retracted. Though premature, the pro-Bush calls colored the public impression of Bush’s entitlement to the presidency during the month-long Florida recount battle. Welch denied pressuring NBC to call the race for Bush and defended his other behavior as a reaction to younger NBC staffers who Welch thought were favoring Vice President Al Gore.

Pro-Republican bias did not stop with Murdoch and Welch, as columnist Joe Conason has noted. “So was Larry Tisch when he owned CBS. So are Richard Parsons and Steve Case of CNN (and Time Warner AOL),” Conason wrote at Salon.com. “Michael Eisner (Disney ABC) gave to Bill Bradley and Al Gore, but he gave more to Bush and [John] McCain and he supported Rick Lazio for the Senate against Hillary Clinton.”

Meanwhile, many of the publications that were denounced by the Right as “liberal” bastions (the likes of The New York Times and The Washington Post) shifted fully into neoconservatism hawkish on foreign policy though more tolerant on cultural issues such as gay marriage and more accepting of science on topics like global warming.

Both the Times and Post advanced President George W. Bush’s bogus claims about Iraq’s WMD as a justification for invading Iraq in 2003. Today, both newspapers toe the neocon line when it comes to aggressive U.S. policies regarding Russia and Syria. Neither makes any effort to conceal their hostility toward Russian President Vladimir Putin and other foreign leaders who are singled out for U.S. demonization.

From the news columns to the op-ed pages, the Times and Post have presented deeply biased coverage that favors more aggressive U.S. interventions abroad. On economic issues, they are generally centrist, favoring “free trade” deals and “reform” of Social Security neither position shared by most “liberals” or “progressives.”

Most modern media is owned by large corporations or, in a few cases, wealthy families. So, it continues to make sense that these outlets would share the prejudices and interests of the rich, as in the old days of FDR and Truman. Indeed, CNBC, the cable network that has prompted the recent right-wing ire, is famously pro-business and anti-government.

CNBC is dedicated to the proposition that “the market” knows all, except when there is an urgent need for the U.S. government to bail out the major investment banks after they tanked the economy in 2008 and crashed Wall Street stock values. Then, the government’s trillions of dollars were deemed essential, though the bank executives still bristled at any political criticism or suggestions that their compensation should be restrained.

The Tea Party Rise

In the first month of Barack Obama’s presidency, CNBC was on the front lines of promoting this arrogance of the super rich, attacking the new president even as he was confronting the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, with millions of Americans losing their jobs and millions more losing their homes.

Yet, while the huge Wall Street bank bail-out under President George W. Bush was popular with the CNBC crowd all the better to reverse the plunge in stock prices there was a fury against Obama’s plans to restrict executive compensation and help stanch the surge in joblessness and home foreclosures.

On Feb. 19, 2009, CNBC reporter Rick Santelli took to the trading floor of the Chicago commodities exchange and fumed about Obama’s plan to help up to nine million Americans avoid foreclosure. Santelli suggested that Obama set up a Web site to get public feedback on whether “we really want to subsidize the losers’ mortgages.”

Then, gesturing to the wealthy traders in the pit, Santelli declared, “this is America” and asked “how many of you people want to pay for your neighbor’s mortgage that has an extra bathroom and can’t pay their bills, raise their hand.” Amid a cacophony of boos aimed at Obama’s housing plan, Santelli turned back to the camera and said, “President Obama, are you listening?”

Though Santelli’s behavior in a different context say, a denunciation of George W. Bush near the start of his presidency would surely have resulted in a suspension or firing, Santelli’s anti-Obama rant was hailed as “the Chicago tea party,” made Santelli an instant hero across right-wing talk radio, and was featured proudly on NBC’s Nightly News.

Santelli’s rant against helping “losers” inspired the Tea Party movement, which tapped into the populist frustrations of many alienated whites but was largely funded by rich right-wingers, including the Koch Brothers, who viewed it as a way to advance their own anti-regulatory agenda and promote more tax cuts for the rich.

That CNBC would now be attacked as a bastion of the “liberal media” shows how far this myth has slid from reality. CNBC is now part of NBCUniversal, which is co-owned by Comcast (51 percent), a major international media conglomerate, and General Electric (49 percent), a founding member of what President Dwight Eisenhower called the Military-Industrial Complex.

So, the notion that CNBC is a hotbed of leftist journalism is delusional. But that is what the Republican Party and many of its top candidates are selling to their “base.”

‘Gotcha’ Complaints

The complaints from last Wednesday’s debate have focused on alleged “gotcha” questions, such as challenges to Dr. Ben Carson, one of the GOP frontrunners, about whether his budget proposals add up and what was his relationship with a shady nutritional supplement company called Mannatech.

While such queries would seem relevant to business reporters, the questions became the target of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and other candidates who won the audience’s cheers for lambasting the “liberal media.”

The “liberal media” accusations prompted the Republican National Committee to suspend its relationship with NBC regarding future debates. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Florida, even added a button at his Internet site for his supporters to “stand against the liberal left media.”

That CNBC would become the new faux standard bearer for the “liberal left media” might be considered comical, but the furor is indicative of how millions of Americans have accepted the Right’s decoupling from the real world and have surrendered their political judgment to demagogues like Rush Limbaugh and corporate masters of the universe like Rupert Murdoch.

How this happened is, of course, complicated and includes the failure of the mainstream press to defend the times when it has fought on behalf of the American people to keep them informed with important information so they can do their job as citizens in a democracy.

Instead, the mainstream media seems significantly disengaged from the public, treating Americans like a commodity to be manipulated rather than the “We the People” owners of the democratic Republic to be respected and served.

Given the arrogance and elitism of many top news personalities, there is an understandable distrust and disdain for the major media. But that populist revulsion toward the overpaid talking heads has been exploited by skillful right-wing media figures who have rallied millions of confused Americans to become foot soldiers in an ideological army that marches to defend a wasteland of false and factually flimsy information.

The answer to this dilemma must be a recommitment among journalists to get back to the basics — providing citizens with information that they need to do their job — and to take on the powers-that-be in the name of the people.

Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. You can buy his latest book, America’s Stolen Narrative, either in print here or as an e-book (from Amazon and barnesandnoble.com). You also can order Robert Parry’s trilogy on the Bush Family and its connections to various right-wing operatives for only $34. The trilogy includes America’s Stolen Narrative. For details on this offer, click here.

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24 comments for “Reviving the ‘Liberal Media’ Myth

  1. Drew Hunkins
    November 2, 2015 at 4:07 pm

    When the rightwingers talk of liberal media bias they’re sort of correct when it comes to non-economic lifestyle-cultural issues. Hence, Wall Streeters and corporate chieftains are generally pro-choice and generally sing hymns to cultural diversity. These financial elites also don’t want to live in a world of irrationality where their kids are taught that the universe was created by a supreme being in seven nights and Adam fed apples to Eve while riding a dinosaur. The mainstream media are essentially (essentially) quite adept at portraying blacks and homosexuals in a relatively positive light or at least neutral light of late.

    However, the corporate media are far from “liberal” (if “liberal” is defined to mean peace and economic justice) when it comes to calling out Washington’s empire, criticizing Zionist power and providing a forthright and honest forum that vociferously denounces the massive inequality that exists in the United States and ways to ameliorate that inequality: strong democratic unions, progressive taxation, raising the minimum wage to a family supporting living wage, national-single payer health insurance, instituting a massive fed jobs program, re-writing disaster “free trade” laws that have led to offshoring, etc.

    • teri
      November 2, 2015 at 5:45 pm

      I think the advent of computers has a lot to do with big business’ acceptance of gays and minorities. There Is a small percentage of the population whose brains can jump through the hoops needed to program, and if the job needs to be done, you put yourself at a business disadvantage if your criteria excludes people for reasons (color, religion, sexual preference) other than the ability to do the job.

    • Mick
      November 4, 2015 at 11:46 am

      Excellent well thought out comment!

      • Drew Hunkins
        November 5, 2015 at 11:59 am

        Thanks for the kind words Mick.

  2. Abe
    November 2, 2015 at 4:20 pm

    The Myth of the Liberal Media: The Propaganda Model of News
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KYlyb1Bx9Ic

  3. LondonBob
    November 2, 2015 at 4:39 pm

    http://sputniknews.com/europe/20151101/1029410885/dsb-mh17-crash-report-media.html

    Sounds like Pieter Omtzigt has been reading your site.

  4. Pat
    November 2, 2015 at 5:12 pm

    Well, this is an interesting question. From a Republican point of view, the “liberal” media are biased in favor of Hillary Clinton, which reinforces their erroneous beliefs. What they don’t get is that Hillary Clinton isn’t liberal. She will protect the Big Money interests and the welfare of the rich and famous.

    If the media were so “liberal left,” they would be reporting a lot more favorably on the candidacy of Bernie Sanders. Instead, they at first ignored him, then laughed at him, and now have started ridiculing him (see the latest NYT piece on what an a–hole he is and his failure to kiss babies).

    • Mick
      November 4, 2015 at 12:09 pm

      Excellent comments!

  5. teri
    November 2, 2015 at 5:40 pm

    It would be interesting to see how a debate “moderated” by Hannity, Limbaugh, etc. would go. (The mere idea is an oxymoron.) Remember what question drew Ted Cruz’s criticism of the dumb questions asked? Since the “liberal media” isn’t reporting it, I’ll remind you. It was “What is your tax policy?” Imagine Cruz giving that response to the same question from Rush Limbaugh.
    Now that would be a Republican debate worth watching. Would Limbaugh go off on him for not answering, or would he twist himself into a pretzel pretending it wasn’t an evasive answer? The suspense is killing me.

  6. Bart
    November 2, 2015 at 6:33 pm

    What a nerve to cry ‘liberal’ when across the fruited plain is this great gulag:

    http://www.toptalkradio.com/

  7. Jay
    November 2, 2015 at 8:09 pm

    In the year 2000: The New York Times in particular did a huge amount of selling of George W. Bush as a moderate republican, who was a nice guy who’d overcome his partying days.

    Nicholas Kristof’s reporting on W was particularly egregious puffery.

  8. Sasha
    November 2, 2015 at 11:05 pm

    I have to give the conserv’s some credit in the fact that they don’t trust the media whereas liberals believe every word that comes out of this administration and the media.

    • Jay
      November 3, 2015 at 2:18 pm

      Really, liberals believed over throwing Gaddafi a good idea, or that maintaining for-profit medical insurance a good idea, or that non-prosecution of investment banks a good idea?

      You’re sadly uninformed.

      And there are many other examples of Obama policies liberals object to.

  9. Mark
    November 3, 2015 at 1:41 am

    While the mentally retarded mouth off while drooling about the “liberal media”-they should know that ALL the media is owned by Conservatives, and corporate morons

  10. November 3, 2015 at 2:24 am

    I would’ve liked to have said that with the arrival of the U.K.’s Guardian online at last the U.S. public might have a liberal newspaper to choose, albeit it a British one. Alas, in order to make it more consumer-friendly to the homogeneous Anglo/Australo/American readership of its imagination, the paper has adopted the neocon ideology of the Murdoch empire. In its efforts to please everyone it now pleases almost no-one, except for right wing politicians and the corporatocracy to which it has conceded its autonomy in the pursuit of ever-greater profit and the oxymoronic concept of capitalist values.

  11. robcrawford
    November 3, 2015 at 3:53 am

    This is an interesting article from the point of view of the executive suite. I do wish it addressed the demographics of educated journalists lower down, who appear to tend to be left leaning.

  12. Peter Loeb
    November 3, 2015 at 6:08 am

    “…WHAT THE FOUNDERS HAD IN MIND…”

    Everyone claims to know with absolute certainty
    “what the Founders had in mind.”

    It is often a good thing that we can continue to
    argue about what these wealthy, literate,
    often slave-owning ‘Founders” actually had in mind.
    Many of the advances of modern government
    are “constitutional” but Social Security,
    Medicare, Medicaid etc. were most probably NOT
    what those guys envisioned. Still I support
    an expanded role of government while
    reserving the right to criticize.Their entrepreneurial
    dreams of Empire along with genocide of
    Native Americans, maintenance of slavery etc.

    If anyone has ever read the journals of
    the late 18th century where few to none
    ever signed his real name (there were
    no “hers”), it often seems to
    me that they are more similar to
    the “yellow journalism” and similar offspring
    with which we are today unfortunately
    familiar.

    Yes, indeed: the propaganda model.
    Thought control.

    There has almost never been any “liberal
    media” in the US. There has often been media
    with whose propaganda one virulently disagrees.

    [Full disclosure: My father was a self-proclaimed
    champion of “liberals” whom he often called
    with pride “the non-communist left.” For
    he worked for Harry Truman’s election in
    1948, worked in the White House temporarily,
    signed a “loyalty oath” for HST, was schooled
    briefly by the CIA’s “School of the Americas”
    in Panama while US Ambassador in Latin
    America.. I remember election night
    with our stand-up radio —no TV’s then—
    and visitors with solid AIPAC credentials
    such as the “Junior Senator from Minnesota,
    Hubert Humphrey. My Mom forced me to
    go to bed at midnight. I hated her for that!
    The results were unknown at that hour. I went crying as
    only a small boy can… The papers of James
    Loeb are collected in the Library of
    Dartmouth College, Hanover NH.]

    So much for “liberalism”.

    —Peter Loeb, Boston, MA, USA

  13. November 3, 2015 at 6:25 am

    I liked this article and found it interesting and helpful, with the exception of the last paragraph, which tries to give an “answer to this dilemma.” Admittedly, without such an answer the reader would be left in the dirt, would be without a glimmer of hope, without a light at the end of the tunnel, but an additional interpretation is necessary to make this answer meaningful beyond just a concluding “feel good” sentence.

    Here is the attempt of an additional interpretation:

    “…providing citizen with information that they need to do their job…” What is the job of the citizens? To critically evaluate the deluge of information which is poured onto them? To elect intelligent and honest people as their representatives? To improve their lives and the lives of fellow humans (and fellow creatures in general)?

    “…to take on the powers-that-be in the name of the people…” Are the intentions of the people really different from the intentions of the media propagandists? Don’t the mainstream media correctly reflect the US zeitgeist? Most sociological research, statistics, surveys, polls, elections, show that compassion, friendship, kindness are in decline, while individualism, egoism, competition are increasing.

    US society prefers competition to cooperation, private wealth to commonly shared public goods (the commons), individual ambition to solidarity. The US interpretation of freedom is the freedom to take what one can grab, the freedom from social responsibility, the freedom to destroy rivals.

    US society is violent (NRA, gun violence, death penalty, permanent wars, Hiroshima), but what can one expect from a society which was built on the extermination of millions of native Americans and on the back of African slave laborers?

    The majority of US-Americans get the political representatives which they deserve and the journalists which they deserve. Critical thinking and honest journalists like Robert Parry represent a minority.

    If the last paragraph in this article should be interpreted in a way that journalists have to be teachers and preachers, have to expose the fault lines of society, campaign for fairness, equality, tolerance, solidarity, social and environmental responsibility, and explain the visions of a harmonious and sustainable society, I agree with it wholeheartedly.

    • Joe Tedesky
      November 3, 2015 at 10:28 am

      Wolf, I agree, and you are on to something with your comment here. When Ray McGovern was handcuffed in NYC, for his attempt, to attend a David Petraeus speaking forum, to the best of my knowledge, this never made the news. When Ray McGovern is interviewed by Don Lemon on CNN, I believe back in 2010, and Ray brings up pedophilia rings in Afghanistan, there was no follow up by interviewer Lemon. Wow! The story of the decade, and no follow up, because this might reinforce something against the official narrative being promoted by the corporate leadership. No follow up, leaves the interviewee looking as though, he should be wearing a tin foil hat. This, is all the better, because by swaying the truth in this direction, it prevents the audience from ever getting to the real story. Propaganda doesn’t always mean you need to lie, just don’t ask the right questions, and no one will be any worst off that they were yesterday.

      More importantly, as you describe Wolf, Americans are not only being dumbed down, they are being driven apart. Apart enough, that everything is divided into left and right, red and blue, and of course the worst place is to be somewhere in the middle. This being in the middle, makes you feel even more alone. United we stand, is replaced with individualism, but that’s okay, because that is what our forefathers intended in order for us all to have and maintain a strong government. This media tactic prevents the people from interacting, and allowing us as a society to form any combined mine set enough to develope a group protest against the government’s official policy. The divided we fall part, is most certainly left out, of any conversation to be had amongst the common folk. It’s never a story about us, as much as it is always a story about them. Oh, what protest organizer tells it’s protesters to block rush hour traffic, this never gets good news reviews, because the public needs to get to work on time, damn it. You may believe this kind of move is a good way to get attention, but I never see it get any satisfying results with John Q. or with Mary Q., because then the protesters turn into a bunch of loud mouths, who should go get a job.

      Somehow there is no comparison between Assad, and the mayor of Ferguson, only that Assad must go. Any mirror to mirror inquiry to how Netanyahu might stack up, when compared to Assad, will certainly never happen, in this country’s news environment. Fox News still insists that Assad used sarin gas on his people. You know better Wolf, but why is your next door neighbor still in the dark, when it comes to their knowing this fact, that even the UN has confirmed that it wasn’t Assad. The best way to answer this, is to ask your uninformed neighbor what news feed they are using to keep up on the news. The news media thinks, or rather knows, we are all very busy. Busy, doing what, not reading the truth in our news, that’s for sure.

      Good remarks Wolf.

  14. F. G. Sanford
    November 3, 2015 at 6:43 am

    Good gracious alive, back in two thousand five,
    They recounted in Vanity Fair,
    A big story about perverts and crooks.
    That was ten years ago and it just goes to show
    That the public remains unaware.
    A scandal this steamy with characters seamy
    Should be in the history books!

    That smug Christian Right should be in a fright
    And the liberals scared shirtless too,
    Because blackmail’s no longer a crime.
    If our government does it as part of the budget
    Then it gets no judicial review-
    If the authors were liable then there’s no denial
    That some of those big shots would sue!

    You must ask the question, it deserves introspection
    Since when does the blackmailer skate?
    It’s a story that just makes no sense.
    This pervert took peeks between little boys’ cheeks
    In a townhouse he used just for bait-
    The feds in Chicago would prosecute Blago
    But they don’t seem to mind this offense.

    They had the placed bugged but Denny just shrugged
    Claiming indiscrete acts long ago.
    Three million and change was a bargain!
    He copped him a plea, the blackmailer went free,
    And the judge would impose an embargo.
    No evidence leaks but the case really reeks
    Of misprision buried in jargon!

    It’s been kept out of court so no press will report
    On the FISA infractions involved-
    And there’s more than just audio tape! (gasp!)
    With the redaction of pedophile action
    The whole sleazy scandal is solved,
    Domestic surveillance of sexual assailants
    Might imply political rape!

    The public is sleepy but it gets much more creepy
    With charter flights to Vietnam,
    The press is reluctant to censure!
    Foreign influence reigns and there’s ethical stains
    That our enemies might use to flimflam-
    Our national honor has stained sheets upon her
    But Denny has had an adventure!

    Suitcases of loot and sex favors to boot
    Are the bartered goods caught in the mix,
    Corrupt politicians solicit!
    State secrets are touted when scandals are outed,
    The Judicial approves of these tricks.
    They won’t prosecute and that should refute
    Any claim that they aren’t complicit!

    Blackmail reigns supreme in the surveillance scheme,
    It’s a scam that engenders compliance-
    Oh my, what a big can of worms!
    Denny got caught when some agency thought
    He was breaking tax laws in defiance:
    Parallel construction could achieve a reduction,
    Denny’s lawyers would dictate the terms!

    If they took him to court then some might exhort
    To determine where he got all that cash,
    He has seventeen million we’re told!
    Foreign connections with big cash injections
    And bribery bolstered his stash-
    Illicit favors come in all flavors,
    Subpoenas could reveal what he sold!

    If the plot were enlarged, could others be charged?
    What else has the press not reported?
    Chicago is full of dark secrets! (gasp!)
    There’s more to this sting than a pedophile ring
    So that’s why the case was aborted.
    The feds have recordings and they could tell more things
    But there would be many regrets.

    You may rest assured pederasts don’t get cured,
    So the buggery went unabated.
    They will never seek legal recourse.
    Congressional Dockets on taxpayers’ pockets
    To South Asian sex parties were slated.
    There were young cheeks to stab on the taxpayers’ tab:
    Family Values are what they endorse!

    Now we all wonder why Putin went to Valdai
    Saying “Hypocrites, liars and crooks!”
    Denny was terribly careless!
    Those agents were Turks and they knew all his quirks,
    Keeping bribery off of the books.
    It’s quite a safe bet FSB then said “Nyet”,
    When they heard of his prey pubic hairless!

    The Empire is vile so it won’t put on trial
    The tailors who fashioned its clothes.
    It’s a question of moral decay!
    They’re beyond retribution, our lost Constitution
    Is reduced to irrelevant prose.
    Our traitors and whores wage aggressive wars
    While our taxes fund perverts at play!

    Now the moral high ground has been shifted around
    And it’s Putin who’s holding the cards
    Could the Empire suddenly crumble?
    If the Bilderberg Meeting was for human flesh eating
    And was videotaped by the guards,
    Our Judicial losers would rebuff the accusers
    …and our “free press” would not even mumble.

  15. historicus
    November 3, 2015 at 6:25 pm

    The Founders were among the most cynical of men. It’s not hard to picture them laughing in their sleeves over the farcical First Amendment, for well they knew from colonial experience there was no such thing as a free press. The “freedom” to publish belongs only to those who can afford the price of a printing press, ink, and paper, and who, most importantly, curry official favor.

    Ben Franklin, for example, grew prosperous with subsidies from the colonial Pennsylvania Assembly, not for dissenting against it, but for printing in his Pennsylvania Gazette newspaper just what the legislature wanted the people to believe.

    As soon as the federal government began in 1789, it rewarded newspapers which reported favorably on its activities with the lucrative contracts to publish the latest Acts of Congress, which guaranteed their financial success.

    The Adams administration violated the Bill of Rights before its ink was barely dry with the 1798 Sedition Act, which criminalized any criticism of the Federalist regime, and even the alleged apostle of the free press, Thomas Jefferson, attempted as President to legally muzzle opposing Federalist editors such as Harry Croswell and Joseph Dennie.

    • Joe Tedesky
      November 3, 2015 at 8:38 pm

      Ever time you visit this site historicus, I can’t help hoping, that you someday hook up with Oliver Stone. Reference Stone’s Showtime series

  16. Eddie
    November 4, 2015 at 11:17 pm

    To me, the key thing here is that the mainstream media is a COMMERCIAL, PROFIT-pursuing corporation. How may of us have worked-in, read-about, or heard-about such entities that were PRIMARILY concerned with benevolent, altruistic principles? (And I’m not talking about the faux humanitarianism of the yearly, minuscule United Way Fund drive, or similar window dressing PR). ‘None of us’ is the correct answer. PROFIT is the raison d’être’ of corporations. If you’ve ever worked for a large corporation, and sat in corporate meetings, or watched them walk long-time employees out the door during the latest ‘down-sizing’, just to make the fiscal year look good, you’re quickly disabused of the notion that these corporations value anything above profit. So how can a media CORPORATION become anything remotely ‘liberal’ (in the economic, political senses) when it’s embedded in the for-profit culture? It’s almost unfair to expect them to be so — kind of like going to a football game and expecting to see them play baseball. About the only way you could argue that is IF you believed they were doing it for a profit, but that wouldn’t explain why they’ve so often promoted and pushed (in advance of public opinion) bogus right-wing conservative crapola (I live in WI under Scott Walker, so I know of what I speak).
    And, as Chomsky, Herman, and others have pointed out, employees of a large corporation MAY privately hold very different (even sometimes politically liberal) views than their employer, but in the case of the media, where editors by definition check/’edit’ their writer’s work, they won’t go beyond the boundaries of acceptable work, since they know they won’t see it in print and/or they could lose their job. But even before that, there are ‘filters’ (hiring practices) that will weed-out most of the potential ‘trouble-makers’ (truth-tellers) anyway, so editors/managers seldom have to worry about this since they tend to hire like-minded individuals. The idea that a bunch of liberal reporters run the NYT or LA Times or any other newspaper/media organization, and can print what they want with impunity, is really a juvenile fantasy.

  17. Steve Miller
    November 5, 2015 at 6:28 am

    I think they’re right about the “mainstream liberal media.” When the mainstream tries to present an unbiased version of the news, while media controlled by the right has descended into a paranoid cockeyed conservative never-never-land, the mainstream is indeed “liberal” by comparison. Consider that global climate change and evolution are “liberal” plots to them, so by their lights media with accurate reporting on the subjects is liberal.

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