On the heals of the FCC approval of even further consolidation of U.S. media outlets into a few commercial hands, Keith Olbermann abruptly quit or was fired by MSNBC. Olbermann was the champion (in terms of salary) on the left just like Rush Limbaugh is the champion on the right.
Long ago, Limbaugh turned his sights onto the mainstream news in America. He promoted claims that our primary news sources have a liberal bias that makes its product unreliable. Studies that support this view make the assumption that if those who work in the industry have views that don’t mirror the larger society, then their reporting will reflect that difference. Other studies challenge this view.
Clearly we have seen an increase in pundit shows with a bias just as we have seen a decrease in straight unbiased reporting shows. We have also seen a transition of ownership of TV and radio. Now corporations own most every outlet of news in America. So corporations now have a great deal of control over news.
Corporate America also has a vested interested in America voting Republican. The Republican party is pretty unabashed in its advocacy that rich people should have their taxes reduced while poor people should have their government benefits reduced. Both the owners and the decision-makers in America’s corporations will get a bigger piece of the economic pie with Republicans in charge.
But in order to succeed, these corporate interests must convince most Americans to vote against their own interests. This is achieved in two ways. First, corporate America makes a trade-off of social issues for economic ones. By embracing conservative social issues (anti-abortion, pro guns, pro-school prayer, anti-gay rights, anti-cultural diversity, etc.) they have convinced many who suffer under Republican economic policies to vote for them. They sold them on the idea that social issues should be litmus tests for candidates. Litmus tests appeal to the public because they provide an instant answer. Litmus tests do not serve the Republic because they do not require any discernment about which candidate would make the best public servant.
Second, corporate America undermines the public’s ability to know the truth of what’s going on in their society and government. Over the past 50 years they have bought up most of our newspapers, TV and radio. They have slowly turned most of what the public sees and hears into potential propaganda machines by stripping away elements that reveal truth.
Rush Limbaugh and others live in their own alternate reality. He created his own reality based on his own set of facts. Others quickly followed suit. No longer was it important to one’s credibility to tell the truth. In our post-modern world, it’s perfectly reasonable for every pundit to have his own set of truths. As a result, we live in a world where our President is a foreign-born Muslim and a Marxist, Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, global warming does not exist, the economic downturn was caused by the government, and the health care industry was recently nationalized by the government.
Let me be clear. Keith Olbermann was not a beacon of truth; he was the liberal answer to Limbaugh, et.al. He played the same game from the other side of the fence. The result was that at least people had the opportunity to hear the other side of an issue. He made MSNBC into a viable (if not as popular) alternative to the corporate propaganda machine on the right.
Did he leave because of the Comcast acquisition of NBC/Universal? I don’t know. Was he fired? I don’t know. A quick reality check, however, says that a company does not allow one of its most valuable assets out of a contract unless at some level it is happy to do so. All I know for sure is that there continues to be a correspondence between the corporate consolidation of media and the disappearance of voices to challenge the Republican propaganda.