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Some Liberty: More Conservative Consolidation Inroads Against a Free and Open Press

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Some liberty!  We learned today that book publishing is headed toward significant and potentially disastrous consolidation. Barnes and Noble had put itself on the market this past year. Now Liberty Media wants to buy it. Here is the problem.  Liberty Media is a right-wing media conglomerate owned by John C Malone. I have written of Mr. Malone before. On top of other radio and television media outlets and 40% of Sirius, He co-owns the production company which produces The Jim Lehrer News Hour.  (And many progressives think they can take everything on that show at face value?). B & N owns/operates bookstores on some college campuses as well. He’s also brought us the Sarah Palin show on Discovery.

So, not only is a non-historian propagandist (David Barton) of the wrong-wing controlling text book content in Texas and California (and therefore much of the content in school books of the nation’s school children), but now John C.  Malone will have inroads into what books get placed on the bookshelves in community bookstores and on college campuses.

The latest news comes on top of news that Rupert Murdoch is persisting in his effort to buy BSkyB and control almost half of what Britain watches. At least, there is a temporary holdup in that deal now, as this article indicates. Murdoch has engineered the dumping of Al Gore’s Current from Italian television, by the way. This is due to Gore’s hiring of Keith Olbermann.  For  these past couple of years we have had to put up with deranged rantings of one (in particular–there are others) of Murdoch’s stable of insta-crazies.  Given Murdoch’s stable of pseudo-news personalities/presidential wannabes, he has some gall trying to block truthteller Olbermann. But, apparently, he has gotten away with it. To these guys (and women) a free press = license to make stuff up.  

We have lost many rounds in the effort to maintain a truthful, free and open press.  Instead our  corporate media has experienced further consolidation into ultra-conservative hands.  Right wing stations predominate the radio dial.  Most of the television media is corporatist and oriented “right” wing.  Even MSNBC, which still (for now) has a night time roster of progressives, tilts far right during the daytime.  It begins with conservative Joe Scarborough and his domineering hosting of the show he supposedly shares with Mika Brzezinski.  Republican talking points and TeaPublican fake assertions are almost everywhere throughout the day.  The Maestro’s (Alan Greenspan, who used Ayn Rand “philosophy” to steer us to economic disaster) wife, Andrea Mitchell, has her own show. And daytime is wrapped up by Dylan Ratigan, who is a self-professed libertarian and can be counted upon to rip the current admin. As just two recent examples, we keep hearing that Mitch Daniels is a “thoughtful guy.”  And now a new one appeared on MSNBC this week, Tim Pawlenty, Mr. Nice Guy.” Is this the result of the new ownership of MSNBC?  Of course, CNN, which spawned Glenn Beck’s television life, has long catered to the corporatists.

But these examples illustrate the new normal, which is a giant step toward the wrong-wing’s extreme territory.  They have promoted nearly every single GOP challenger, who was delusional enough to believe he (or she) could or should be president.  And then, when their darlings don’t take hold in the public, they duly report the demise.  And then they are off to the next candidate to promo.  The Washington Post Company now gains a substantial portion of its income from an online for-profit “university.” Control not just the news, but what students learn as well!  Now the new song and dance is that maybe Sarah Palin should re-emerge, or Michele Bachmann, as if either are credible candidates. Worse excuses for candidates have rarely ever, as “reared their heads” (Palin’s term in another context). The media are collectively already out of gas and it is only 2011.

  • Paba

    I used to work in the retail book sales industry, and I really don’t think it’s going to be a preoccupation of the CEO of the company that owns B&N to do anything more than make as much money as possible. The buyers are the people who make that decision, and they have no contact with the upper management echelons. They have one goal: get product that will sell. Never in all my time there did anything other than the idea that you want to have product that moves swiftly ever come into consideration, and doing so would gum up the works.

    If some guy wanted to act as a censor on what people learn, the world of retail is a pretty tough place to do so. With news, you can put out those guiding principles, but what matters is your ad revenue stream. Same for retail. I would be highly surprised if the content of your local B&N becomes anything but books that have the best chance to sell. It’s not a very efficient place to promote your ideology.