Thursday, July 31, 2008

The American Media Crisis--The One Who Pays Is You

The media's monotonous support for the Obama campaign ratchets my curiosity about its declining standards. Yellow journalism and bias go back to the Federalist period of American history and before, and Jefferson was not above planting friendly journalists in positions in order to maximally irritate his opponents. But there are several differences between the factionalism of today's media and that of only a few decades ago. In the 1960s, there was still a significant degree of variability in the opinions of the major New York newspapers. Today, television and newspaper outlets conform to a social democratic norm and are increasingly shrill.

Conservatives believe that there is a liberal bias in the media and this is in part true. The corporate and financial interests that control the television and newspaper outlets are corporatist and social democratic because social democracy supports their financial interests. Thus, to understand the reason for the media's liberal bias, it is necessary to fathom the corporate interests that control the major media outlets and the economic conditions that favor their health.

Social democracy has always been a method by which corporate power deceives and controls a naive public. The history of the Progressives and the New Deal as ensuing from the exercise of a broadened interpretation of corporate power, that is for instance, as opposed to small business power, is well documented. The increased stridency of the mass media not only in support of Barack Obama but in its shrill uniformity (examples are MSNBC's Chris Matthews and CNN's Jack Cafferty and Lou Dobbs) suggest a crisis of confidence on the part of American elites. The crisis is economic and it is in its early stages.

The Bush administration has intensified the inflation of the past 25 years to a point that will necessitate a recession. But American financial and business institutions have been considerably weakened due to mismanagement and may not withstand a recession. The media's advertisers and corporate owners are in for a rough ride.

Wealth has been reallocated away from the economy's productive sectors such as manufacturing and agriculture, and the manufacturing firms as in the automobile industry that might be able to produce value are frequently not globally competitive. For them to become competitive the dollar needs to depreciate to the point where their exports become so. This will attract talent back to productive areas of the economy but will reduce the wealth base and force many Americans to reduce their living standards. As well, the reduction in the purchasing power of the dollar will be associated with an influx of dollars from abroad, causing additional price inflation here. This will cause instability. The reason for the price inflation is of course Federal Reserve policy that has subsidized the same firms that advertise through the mass media and include the mass media firms themselves.

In response to the depreciating dollar the Fed will need to raise interest rates. This will cause difficulties and perhaps bankruptcy of major American firms.

The mass media adopts an increasingly lock step tone in order to prepare for a series of economic crises whose causes it aims to distort. The beneficiaries of the long inflation of the past 25 years have been top managers, Wall Street and hedge funds. Oil speculation is not really an important component of this, and the media's recent tap dance about oil speculation is evidence of how it will continue to lie about the economic problems in the next decade. Barack Obama has received more donations from Wall Street and the financial community than has John McCain. He will avoid, with media support, addressing the underlying sources of the need for adjustment.

The one who pays is you.

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