And The Winner Is…The Media

So long as we have corporate media monopolies married to political powerbrokers in government and on K Street, we will never have truly free elections.

As the American electorate’s chest heaves with exhaustion, gasping for that second wind to propel it across the finish line of this year’s electoral marathon, the handicappers are already setting up shop to declare victories or to justify whatever it is they decide to call non-victories. There will be celebrations and wakes and scores of prognosticators heralding their prescience no matter how far from reality their predictions actually fall.

But there is one contestant in this game that can pump its mighty fist in the air regardless of polling outcomes.

When all is said and done, The Media will have banked over $2 Billion. Of course, the final numbers are not in and this estimate doesn’t even include spot cable buys, not to mention last minute surges that are expected on all sides.

If a campaign can be analogized to a war, then the media are the war profiteers. Fox is the Halliburton of the press corps – GE (owner of NBC/Universal) is the…well, the GE. They benefit no matter who wins or loses. In fact, it is in their interest to incite division and to escalate the conflict.

They have been doing this in some obvious ways. The hype surrounding the Mark Foley and John Kerry events was purposefully orchestrated to fuel controversy and to roil the electoral landscape. Partisans on both sides help to propel these tangents, but despite their varying levels of significance, none of these issues have parity with Iraq, the economy, health care, global warming, etc. Yet they are given prominence due to their tabloid appeal.

As the prospects for each candidate and party fluctuate, the players need to react, and this is generally done by purchasing more ad time. The media doesn’t particularly like a blowout because it results in the failing candidate either abandoning the air war or the candidate’s supporters abandoning the candidate, leaving no budget for the battle. So the press chips in keep the race close.

Meanwhile the public suffers the fate of all civilians in wartime. They are beaten and battered and left in a heap along with the other victims of collateral damage. It is never the people’s interest that is served in war, but the interests of the war mongers and their powerful benefactors. The people suffer through these air wars and become disgusted and demoralized. That is actually part of the media’s wartime stategery. A little known fact about negative ads is that they are not intended to tarnish an opponent (that’s just gravy). Their purpose is to suppress turnout so that campaign strategerists are left with a smaller, more manageable, voter population to influence and get to the polls.

So long as we have corporate media monopolies married to political powerbrokers in government and on K Street, we will never have truly free elections. They just feed off of each other and enrich each other at the expense of democracy. The media needs to be corralled into a role wherein it educates and informs citizens. And public financing of campaigns is imperative if we want to remove the influence of corporations from politics.

This is the paramount battle of our generation and we are presently losing. The media will grow stronger as a result of the massive infusion of campaign spending it is enjoying this year. But it isn’t invincible and the fight is worth fighting. I do not consider it hyperbole to say that the future of our country rests on the outcome and if that isn’t motivation, then I guess I’ll just have to buy some more airtime to convince you.