The concept of a free press and its direct relationship to a free people has been a foundational underpinning of American democracy since the nation’s founding, and for 227 years that simple premise held true. Founding Father Thomas Jefferson famously said “The only security of all is in a free press. It is necessary, to keep the waters pure,” and that “our liberty cannot be guarded but by the freedom of the press, nor that be limited without danger of losing it.” The Constitution’s framers agreed with Jefferson and included the edict that “Congress shall make no law respecting abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press” in the 1st Amendment that Republicans violated in 2003 when in their drive to destroy democracy and sell it to corporate America, they deregulated the Federal Communications Commission in what former FCC chairman described as a “right-wing power grab” that gave complete control of all media to a few un-American corporations. Adlai Stevenson once said that “The free press is the mother of all our liberties and of our progress under liberty,” but with one act of a Republican Congress the mother of Americans’ liberty was unceremoniously murdered and what remains is the rotting corpse of a free press and free people.
Over the past month there has been tepid interest in news the Koch brothers were attempting to buy some of the few remaining “free press” left in America to complete the corporate takeover of everything Americans read, listen to, or watch. Apparently, the fact that over 90% of all media is owned and controlled by 5 corporations was not bringing about liberty’s death knell fast enough to suit the fascist conservatives, and buying up Tribune Newspapers was all that remained to complete their coup d’état of main stream media, but Americans could at least find solace that outlets like Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) and media watchdog Media Matters were cleared to report accurately without interference from corporate machinations to fabricate news, conceal corporate malfeasance, and restrict the free flow of information that Jefferson said was “the only security” Americans had to protect liberty. Unfortunately, that is not the case.
Last year during the lead-up to the general election, this column researched and reported Willard Romney’s connection to Bain Capital’s practice of swooping in, seizing companies’ assets, and taking them into bankruptcy to reap the profits. In particular, there was irrefutable proof in public docket records that under Romney’s leadership, a bankruptcy gang inserted Bain surrogates on both sides of the eToys bankruptcy proceedings and committed perjury in order to tilt judgments in Bain’s favor. It was curious why the story, which was well-known to main stream media, was never reported to the masses and particularly why an organization like Media Matters was assailing Romney’s candidacy, but failed to report his or Bain’s connection in the eToys case that would have informed voters of underhanded business practices Romney would have brought to the presidency. Two weeks ago it was revealed why a top liberal SuperPac, American Bridge, and Media Matters took a hands-off approach to Romney’s business record while CEO of Bain Capital.
It turns out that American Bridge 21st Century PAC, a project of Media Matters’ founder David Brock, had previously undisclosed financial ties to Bain Capital and one of American Bridge’s major fundraisers, Mary Pat Bonner, demanded the group refrain from making any attacks on Romney’s company Bain Capital. Some people familiar with the group’s work said “Anything that was discussed doing publicly in regard to Bain, was either shot down immediately, or there was a question, ‘Could Mary Pat be OK with this?‘ And the answer was always no.” The president of American Bridge, Rodell Mollineau, said “We spent a year producing more than 2,000 pages of original Bain research and worked with our progressive partners to determine the most strategic way to use it,” but Bain prevailed and American Bridge and Media Matters “struggled to attack Romney without smearing Bain.” So much for a free press and informing the public how close they came to having a corporate “vulture capitalist” as president, and it is all thanks to corporate money controlling the media, and it includes the Public Broadcasting Service.
Two weeks ago, another story emerged that cited David Koch’s influence on PBS, and how they killed airing a documentary, “Citizen Koch” to mollify the Koch brothers and conceal their influence during Scott Walker’s assault on organized labor. The documentary was scheduled to appear on PBS, but funding was pulled after Koch expressed outrage that they aired another critical documentary about the influence of corporate money in elections leading the filmmaker to say, “People like the Kochs have worked for decades to undermine public funding for institutions like PBS” so they could control content to the public through funding with corporate money. Koch has donated $23 million to public television, and apparently bought the right to censor content unfavorable to Koch’s influence on politics courtesy of their personal Supreme Court Justice’s votes on Citizens United, and he was furious a New York PBS affiliate aired “Park Avenue” that did not portray Koch in the favorable light. Koch has PBS so terrified of his influence and control of its content, that a New York PBS affiliate president offered Koch time for an “unprecedented PBS-aired rebuttal” to a documentary PBS was too mortified to air.
Americans can rest assured that anything they read, watch, or listen to is controlled by giant corporations, and it is why the majority of Americans will never know the biggest corporations avoid paying income taxes and hide trillions of dollars offshore. It is also why Americans only hear what the corporate world’s legislative arm, the Republican Party, allows them to dispense and why the public is ignorant of how Republicans obstruct efforts to grow the economy, deliberately kill millions of jobs, abscond with Americans’ pensions, and hand all the nation’s assets to the rich and their corporations. They will also never know that Republican deregulation efforts only benefit their corporate masters including giving them complete control over all media, save independent internet sites committed to exposing the truth regardless the consequences.
There is a reason why Americans vote against their own self-interests, are perpetually ignorant of Republican deceit, and rail against what they perceive as government overreach into their private affairs. When Republicans deregulated the FCC and gave corporate control over all media they knew it would just be a matter of years before the only information the public heard was conservative propaganda to transform America into a corporate fascist state that Americans find themselves living under. It has been said that “knowledge and information is power if one knows it about the right person or group” and that “hoarding knowledge or information may be an act of tyranny” and besides tyranny, Republicans guaranteed that giving absolute control of the media to fascists and corporations robbed Americans of their liberty Jefferson said, “can only be guarded by freedom of the press.” Republican deregulation eliminated freedom of the press, and in the process effectively eliminated democracy and liberty the Koch brothers, Romney’s Bain Capital, and 5 corporations bought and paid for and unfortunately, Americans will never read, watch, or hear why they are controlled by fascists disguised as corporations.