Great little story by Bill Curry over at HuffPost, about the different career arcs between rival former Ohio mayors Dennis Kucinich and Jerry Springer. As Jerry Springer's booming bank account illustrates, people are certainly fickle in their choices - what political scientists call voter "preferences." But Bill Curry is not addressing a huge, probably the most important factor of our past 5 or 6 of our presidential and congressional campaigns: the institutional bias of the media, and the failure of the Democrats as a group to address that bias.
To say that the major, corporate media has a "conservative" bias is to give it more credit than it deserves. Because the major corporations favor increased concentration of wealth and power, towards an ever smaller, more powerful, and not-responsible-to-the-public minority, the media actually now has a REACTIONARY bias. Hillary seeking and receiving Rupert Murdoch's approval is only the latest, most glaring (if muted), and most egregious example of the Democrat's tendency to kowtow to the "conventional wisdom."
This tendency actually became most pronounced with the abortion issue. Democrats are, understandably, reluctant to CONFRONT any major religous organization in America, because to do so instantly calls down on your head a motivated, disciplined, energetic, and active group dedicated almost soley to ousting you from your seat. That is, be seen by a church as insulting, and they will instantly organize to demonize you and drive you from office. So there is an inherent bias on the part of Democratic candidates and leaders to defer to churches (and the Israel lobby, with its roots deeply embedded in America's Jewish community), sort of the bullies on the block in their ability to gang up on any outsiders or newcomers. As a result of this inherent or institutional bias, we have the absurdity throughout much of America that not only are the morning-after-pill and even contraception considered "controversial" (if not made illegal), but there are those on the right who seek to criminalize stem-cell research, outlaw sex education, and insist that the world, solar system, and universe are less than 6,000 years old! (Not to mention that the Catholic Church continues to posit itself as a "moral authority," even though we now know beyond a shadow of a doubt that senior church officials harbored child-raping priests for decades, "child rape" a forbidden, verbotten term in America's major-media discourse on that scandal.)
Add to the need for Democrats to defer to the big religous organizations the desires of big-business to consolidate ever larger guaranteed profits. As Jim Cramer, uber-capitalist host of MSNBC's "Mad Money" once told his viewere, a Brazilian airline stock was a "Buy Buy Buy!" because that airline had - signed a NON-COMPETE agreement with a rival airline, and now had a MONOPOLY over airline flights to a booming region of Brazil. When Righties TALK "Free enterprise capitalism" what they dream of is closed markets and guaranteed profits. We see this tendency in energy (especially in the oil industry, with massive consolidations among America's major gasoline retailers), increasingly in food production, very much so in military contracting, and especially in the media. As Kevin Phillips details in his "Wealth and Democracy in America," all major American private fortunes were created in close cooperation with government authority, and today having guaranteed billion-dollar defense contracts means huge fortunes are transferred from the public to private hands on a scale that would have astounded early Americans. (Who, nonetheless, were often active participants in the slave trade, which of course was a vast undertaking - moving up to 10 million souls from Africa to the New World - which well illustrates the tremendous power behind private-government cooperation for ever greater empire, wealth, and profit.)
Consolidation of power, and vast amounts of wealth, in the hands of a small elite; concentration of increasingly vital industries in the hands of an ever shrinking elite; control of the major media - which is to say control of elections and thereby the US government and treasury - in the hands of an ever shrinking minority. Not only do the Democrats, the nominal "opposition party," have no answer to these fundamental problems, THEY AREN'T EVEN DISCUSSING THEM. For individual candidates it is far too problematic to take on any of these institutional biases, much less, heaven forbid, all of them. And as an institution, the Democratic Party becomes part of the ruling minority, the elite, itself, and like individual candidates, the party prefers to bow to the winds of prevailing "conventional wisdom" (as defined by the elite who CONTROL the media), rather than make a broad based and energetic opposition to the masters of the universe (like Rupert Murdoch, GE, and other oorporate titans) who could easily ruin their day (or next election).
August 1, 2007
With the 2008 campaign in high gear some folks would like real debates to go along with it. Last week's CNN/YouTube debate tinkered with technology in hopes of eliciting more spontaneity and substance but Democratic candidates for President weren't so easily tricked.
Maybe you missed the debate -- got home late, turned on the set and were half an hour into America's Got Talent before realizing you had the wrong show. It happened a lot. In overnight ratings, NBC's 'reality' show beat CNN's 'reality' show 5 to 1.
It must frost Dennis Kucinich that Jerry Springer hosts America's Got Talent. In 1977, Kucinich and Springer were mayors of Cleveland and Cincinnati, Ohio. When Kucinich wouldn't privatize a local utility, vengeful bankers called in city loans. He got run out of town, was named one of the ten worst mayors in history and in 1982 reported an annual income of $38. Auditors later said his principled stand saved his city $200 million.
Springer's story has a different arc. When a prostitute was found with one of his personal checks, he apologized profusely, got re-elected, then left politics and wound up a TV news anchor. When Phil Donahue retired, Springer got his show and spruced it up a bit. For that and stints like America's Got Talent, he's on his way to having $200 million of his own.....