A lot of criticism is directed at the east coast news media. I am in the first rank of the criticizers. The major media operates in a political bipolar bubble (maybe in both senses of the term) centered in the New York City/Washington, D.C. axis.
While they arrogantly suggest that they are somehow “national” news services, they are, in reality, limited to highly insulated and localized political and cultural values. And even worse, they impose those narrow values on the rest of the nation by abusing and corrupting the essential standards and ethics of honest journalism – to be fair, balanced and accurate in the presentation of news.
We (I) often criticize individual frontline practitioners for egregious distortions of news – weaving events into mendacious narratives. But to understand the malignancy that they represent in the profession of journalism, we must look past the anchors, the reporters and those panels of parroting pundits.
Those we see on our television screens are largely the marionettes of corporate puppet masters. Most of the millionaire hosts and anchors are actors – script readers. Though some may have impressive past resumes, they are not necessarily the most knowledgeable people.
The anchor hosts – virtually all multimillionaire celebrities — are selected much like actors are selected for a Broadway play. They are judged on their looks, their hairstyle and the quality of their voice – how well they fit the part. In some cases, they are selected for their box office appeal to target audiences. They are not necessarily selected for their in-depth knowledge or their general intelligence. Their most important talent is the ability to read those teleprompters with conviction. Yes, there are exceptions, but that does not change the general rule.
So, who is responsible for what those talking heads say? It is the folks behind the scenes who make the assignments, develop the stories, write the scripts, control the narratives and run the spin machines. The ones who control the research – and the ones who direct the action by whispering into the ears of the on-camera talent. They are the producers and editors who implement the culture and control the content on a day-to-day basis. They are the ones who decided what we see and hear – and what we are to think about it.
Above them – at the top of the corporate pyramid — are the bosses who set policy and oversee the hiring of all those on-camera folks and the producers/editors. They are a VERY small group of like-minded individuals — a very wealthy and very powerful clique of Manhattan media mavens. They are not only geographically isolated from the general American public, but they are economically self-segregated. It is the reason why it is often noted that the elitist media does not understand or connect with the average or low income Americans. How could they?
At the top of the biased and corrupt media monoliths are a new generation of media barons. They are not as well known as those of the past – such as Horace Greeley, William Randolph Hearst or Colonel Robert McCormick – but they are ever more powerful in their ability to influence public opinion.
Perhaps the best known – although not as a media baron – is Jeff Bezos, the multi-billionaire Amazon CEO and owner of the Washington Post. He claims that he does not influence the Post’s one-sided political coverage, but it is always the person at the top who controls the business who controls the output.
The New York Times is owned by Arthur Och Sulzberger.Jr. The Sulzberger family has controlled the Times for three generations – starting in 1935. The left-wing activism of the Times is directly the result of the political philosophy of the Sulzberger family.
Then there are those television networks. MSNBC – arguably the most propagandized news network – is owned by NBCUniversal, which also owns the NBC broadcasting network. It also owns the Spanish media outlet, Telemundo, and Universal Studios in Hollywood – giving Sulzberger enormous influence over what appears on the silver screens.
NBCUniversal partnered with Dow Jones to create an array of financial networks, including CNBC, CNBC Asia, CNBC Europe and CNBC Africa.
The man who sits atop the massive NBCUniversal communication conglomerate is Stephen B. Burke (hardly a household name). Burke came to NBCUniversal from ABC. More about that outfit below.
Burke became the top dog at NBCUniversal when that company was merged into … Comcast. Yep! Comcast – the huge multimedia company — now owns NBCUniversal.
Comcast is headed up by Brian Roberts (another household name?), who has been president and now chairman since 1990 — thirty years and counting. He is the media baron responsible for the left-leaning policies of NBCUniversal and all the other media enterprises Comcast controls.
ABC News is headed by James Goldston. He is the guy who sets the culture and tone for what you see as news every day at ABC. If you follow Yahoo News, you will be getting it from its association with the Yahoo- ABC News Network. – and James Goldston.
But even Goldston is not the top guy because there is yet another critical Hollywood connection. ABC is controlled by the Disney Corporation. Yep! Mickey Mouse is one of the most powerful news and entertainment barons in the world. Not bad for a guy who started out piloting a tugboat.
Actually, the head of Disney Is Robert Chapek. He is recent to his role as one of the media barons – having replaced Robert Iger in February of 2020. Iger will stick around as executive chairman. So, if you wonder who sets the news policy over at ABC, Iger was – and Chapek will be — the guy. Iger moved up to his Disney perch after heading ABC. Despite Disney’s association with California and Florida, Iger flocks with the other media barons in New York. Chapek has had a 30-year history with Disney Burbank, California.
The majordomo over at CBS was Les Moonves – until his sexual improprieties forced him out in 2018. He was succeeded in that job by Joseph Ianniello. In addition to news and entertainment, CBS owns a number of publishing outlets – another communications industry dominated by the New York progressive culture.
And there are others. The Chicago Tribune – once the conservative publication of Colonel McCormick — is now part of a second-tier, but powerful, media conglomerate of left-leaning publications. If you read the Baltimore Sun, the New York Daily News or any of the Sun-Sentinel Newspapers (among others), you are getting your spin on the news from the parent Tribune Publishing Company.
CNN was the brainchild of millionaire sportsman Ted Turner. The idea was to create a unique 24/7 cable news channel. He succeeded in giving America the 24/7 concept, but news quickly gave way to opinion and bias. Today, CNN is controlled by the mega-media behemoth, Warner Communications – and the guy who sits at the top is Jeff Zucker. He was previously CEO of NBCUniversal. (The bigtime media seems to be a high-level game of musical chairs.)
The consolidation of the news, entertainment and publishing industries by a small group of enormously wealthy and geographically (and arrogantly) isolated individuals –with a shared political perspective — has undermined the concept of a free press. It is true that publications like the Chicago Tribune were politically biased in the past, but there was a healthy competitive marketplace of newspapers of varying views.
The coalescing of the American communications industry around a small group – a cabal – of likeminded executives has undermined the concept and the reality of a fully informed public. The media’s singular partisanship and monotheistic philosophy have relegated much of the Fourth Estates to a status of purveyors of propaganda — rather than providers of critical news based on objective standards and journalistic ethics.
Ironically, these men — who control so much of what we the people get to see and hear –mostly operate in the shadows of the New York skyscrapers. They are in a sense, the ultimate “unnamed sources.”
So, there ‘tis.