by Nathan Mullen
Totalitarian media is prevalent in American society today. Not in the way that you think of. The control of media has been more subtle than ever, and most Americans aren’t even aware that a lot of it is regulated. It’s creeping subtleties continue to challenge the Libertarian theory of the press, limiting what information is spread to the masses and what information is held back, ultimately seizing control of our minds. In my essay I will make 3 points on how all of this is true. The first is how powerful corporations influence the media and control what we view. The second is how the media has become means of mindless and ugly entertainment which has made us subjects to whatever messages the powerful and wealthy want us to know. The third point of this essay I will discuss exactly WHY large corporations want to control the media.
According to my research, back in 1983 about 50 corporations had control of most of the media we consumed. Today, that 50 has been reduced to six. That means that six large corporations, (Disney, News Corporation, Time Warner, Viacom, and CBS Corporations. These are always changing due to merging and buyouts of the companies) control what is on the tv screen, the radio, and in the newspapers. Why does this even matter? Because according to former Wall Street Journalist Jonathan Kwitney, “the more powerful they are the more their interests tend to be similar and if they control also the means of communications, then are more limited the kind of things that are going over those means of communications.” In the Documentary Fear and Favor in the Newsroom, Francis Cerra, a New York Times investigative reporter, found herself up against the Editors themselves when exposing the wrongdoings of large corporations. The editors explained to her that the investigative stories were “not what they wanted.” They would prefer to have articles “people can use” such as where to spend their money. The power that these corporations have is great because “We live at a time when it is absolutely imperative to think for ourselves… but most Americans are being absolutely overwhelmed with information and seem more than content to let others do their thinking for them.”
The Corporation’s mentioned above acquire a great deal of power through the merging and purchasing of companies. In Cleon Skousin’s book “The Naked Communist” he describes 45 subtle goals Communists (or anyone seeking for power) use to gain control over the people. To achieve their goals they ”[Infiltrate] the press… [Gain] control of key positions in radio, TV & motion pictures… [break] down cultural standards of morality by promoting pornography and obscenity in books, magazines, motion pictures, radio and TV.” All these things we can see in our society happening today. The constant exposure of these images of immorality and pornography has dulled our ability to think for ourselves, and allows outside influences to control our mindsets and values. Our minds are constantly concentrating on the shallow, influencing our behavior negatively. “Take for example the game, Grand Theft Auto. When adult males play this game their values are altered. They become more accepting of drugs and violence after only one week of playing, based on pre and post testing.” The rising generation is particularly vulnerable to the messages conveyed. “In a Kaiser Family Foundation study, 76 percent of teens said that one reason young people have sex is because TV shows and movies make it seem normal for teens.” Teenagers are especially vulnerable to these sexual messages because “these messages [bombard] teens at a stage when they are in the midst of developing their values and beliefs around gender roles, sexual behaviors and attitudes”
The messages the media produces can lead to great individual destruction. “The shift in societal values away from collectivism and toward individualism, away from civic responsibility and toward self-gratification, and away from meaningful contributions to society and toward personal success, [has contributed] to the cultural message of narcissism.” These vain messages can hurt those of us who are more emotionally and even mentally vulnerable. I think about the standard that the media has set for males and females. In the documentary Miss Representation it talks about the damage that the sex driven media has specifically done to women and girls. “You never see a photograph of a woman considered beautiful that hasn’t been digitally altered to make her absolutely inhumanly perfect. Girls are being encouraged to achieve that ideal at younger and younger ages all the time. They end up measuring themselves against an impossible standard.” This is just another example of how big of an influence the media has on the public.
A lot of the current animosity towards Muslims comes from the messages in the mainstream news. According to Nieman Reports (an alternative to mainstream source of news), CNN’s editorial boss Walter Isaacson told journalists to avoid reporting on civilian casualties when the United States began military operations in Afghanistan. “We must talk about how the Taliban are using civilian shields and how the Taliban have harbored the terrorists responsible for killing close to 5,000 people.” The reason Walter Isaacson pressed this on his journalists was because he didn’t want the American public to have a bad opinion of the war, aiding the enemy by losing public support. If these corporations that are behind the media can effectively sway us into believing that Muslims are evil, then they can justify even greater their war on resources in the Middle East.
Censorship is something that not many Americans think about. After all, isn’t the press completely free? The United States Constitution states that “Congress shall make no law….abridging (limiting) the freedom of speech, or of the press…” It protects the press from the government taking control of the media and protects those who are reporting. So why are there forms of censorship in American Media? In the 1998 documentary Project Censored: Is the Press Really Free?, Dr. Peter Phillips discusses how this is the case. “..We don’t see it as a conspiracy. We don’t see censorship as something the media is deliberately doing to keep the American public from being informed about certain stories.” He explains further that “[these] huge, mega media corporations [are] large bureaucracies” that have become so consumed with making a profit and getting audience points. He explains further that this has changed the way that news is selected and broadcasted to the public. This is the issue again with when Francis Cerra went up against her Editors. They wanted her to write stories that would persuade the viewers to go buy things. The bottom line with these corporations is wealth and power.
It is unfortunate that totalitarianism is prevalent in American society today. Like I stated before, it is not completely in our faces, but the control of the media is very real and very subtle. The way that I have tried to convey this point is by bringing to light the fact that most of the media we see is controlled and regulated by large corporations. I have also discussed how the media has become shallow and is driven by sex and violence. This has led to our minds being dulled enough for the media to come in and influence us however they wish. The third point I made was why the large corporations do what they do. Stated simply: Money and power. I hope that we can all pay better attention to what we consume and not allow the mainstream media to control and affect us in any way.
Snyder, Michael. “Who Owns The Media? The 6 Monolithic Corporations That Control Almost Everything We Watch, Hear And Read.” D.C. Clothesline. N.p., 23 Oct. 2014. Web. 29 Apr. 2016.
Lutz, Ashley. “These 6 Corporations Control 90% Of The Media In America.” Business Insider. Business Insider, Inc, 14 June 2012. Web. 29 Apr. 2016.
Sanders, Beth, John Alpert, Ben Bagdikian, and Joel Beinen. “Fear and Favor In The Newsroom.” YouTube. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 Apr. 2016.
Snyder, Michael. “7 Things About The Mainstream Media That They Do Not Want You To Know.” Infowars. N.p., 21 May 2013. Web. 29 Apr. 2016.
Skousen, W. Cleon. “Chapter 12/ Current Communist Goals.” The Naked Communist. Salt Lake City: Ensign Pub., 1958. N. pag. Print.
Taylor, Eldon. “Moral Stories and the Media.” The Huffington Post. TheHuffingtonPost.com, 6 June 2014. Web. 29 Apr. 2016.
“Teen Health and the Media.” Teen Health and the Media. University of Washington, n.d. Web. 29 Apr. 2016.
Grant, Christina. “Teens, Sex and the Media: Is There a Connection?” Paediatrics & Child Health. Pulsus Group Inc, May-June 2003. Web. 29 Apr. 2016.
Taylor, Dr. Jim. “Are the Media Creating a Generation of Narcissists?” The Huffington Post. TheHuffingtonPost.com, 24 Oct. 2012. Web. 29 Apr. 2016.
Zelnick, Bob. “War Reporting: How Should Civilian Casualties Be Reported?” Nieman Reports War Reporting How Should Civilian Casualties Be Reported Comments. N.p., 2003. Web. 29 Apr. 2016.
“Freedom of Speech and Freedom of Press. From the United States Constitution.” Freedom of Speech and Freedom of Press. N.p., n.d. Web. 29 Apr. 2016.
Jensen, Carl, Peter Phillips, and Mickey Huff. “Project Censored: Is the Press Really Free? The 1998 Documentary.” YouTube. Differential Films, 12 June 2012. Web. 29 Apr. 2016.
Aguilera, Christina, Michelle Bachmann, Chris Baker, and Jennifer Siebel Newsom. “Miss Representation.” YouTube. Girls Club Entertainment, 13 May 2015. Web. 29 Apr. 2016.