Bill Moyers’ 1999 PBS special “Free Speech For Sale” deals with the bad effects of having a few large corporations control most of America’s TV stations, radio stations, cable stations and other information sources. Moyers accuses these few large corporate owners of media networks, such as the Walt Disney Company and News Corporation, of using their power not only to disseminate self-serving propaganda but to silence voices in opposition to the large media conglomerates. As one example of that political censorship, he describes how ABC-Cap Cities canceled Jim Hightower’s radio show, supposedly for bad ratings. Moyers indicates that Hightower’s populist message did not sit well with ABC-Cap Cities, such as when he said Walt Disney's takeover of ABC-Cap Cities was “mickey mouse.” Note: Hightower was the penultimate guest on the last episode of Bill Moyers Journal.
According to Moyers, a big reason media
Comment: Clinton is just following the example of Yeltsin in Russia and Salinas in Mexico, handing over public resources to “oligarchs,” creating shared monopolies. I have read that next on Clinton’s dance card was to allow the Social Security fund trustees the right to invest their funds in Wall Street securities. The Lewinsky scandal and impeachment worries derailed that Clinton plan but before leaving office, Clinton did sign into law the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act of 1999, which repealed the Glass-Steagall Act of 1933. This repeal had the effect of opening up the wild animal cages at the Wall Street circus and letting the hungry lions and tigers roam among the circus attendees, the carnivores looking for their next meal. With Clinton doing so many favors to large corporations, it is no wonder that when the national TV news networks covered his daughter Chelsea’s wedding, there was no news on her future father-in-law, Edward Mezvinsky, an ex-Congressman who had spent five years in federal prison for a 10 million dollar fraud involving a swindle similar to the “Nigerian letter.” Coincidentally, Mezvinsky lost his bid for another term in Congress in 1976 to Jim Leach of Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act fame.
This Moyers special shows how control of the media allows large corporations to, in effect, control America. The first example in the show is what happened to Cindy Watson, a Republican office holder in the North Carolina General Assembly who tried to limit the growth of hog farms in her district until the farms did something about the stench and pollution from the waste generated by millions of hogs. Using every dirty, but legal, trick in the book, including “push polls” (interviews with slanted questions, along the lines of “when was the last time she sold out her constituents?”), the big hog farming interests spent over $2 million on TV and newspaper ads to defeat her in the Republican primary. She lost to a hog farmer.
“Free Speech For Sale” was available in VHS format in 1999 by mail order for $29.95. Good luck finding a copy now for that price. My copy came from the PBS National feed over satellite, a feed that PBS pretty much discontinued everywhere in 2002 except for owners of RV mobile homes. Starting in the late 90s, PBS documentary shows often had transcripts of the shows available on the show’s website. “Free Speech For Sale” doesn’t have a website that I could find.
This Moyers’ documentary is as timely now as when PBS originally aired it eleven years ago. If anything, the situation has gotten much worse now, as major media sources like ABC and FOX do everything possible to downplay the economic disaster the USA is still in thanks to the laissez-faire laws Clinton signed in the 90s. As the American economy remains in the tank, rather than blame the greed and incompetence of Wall Street insiders and sticky-fingered politicians, the corporate media has seized upon illegal immigrants as a convenient scapegoat for this country’s economic mess (diverting attention from the real
Aug 19, 2010, 00:21:45
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