During a recent conversation with a friend, I found myself wondering whether I had sufficient evidence for my claim. My claim was that most corporate newspapers and electronic media are reluctant publish stories that make big corporations look bad, the motivation being that big corporations by expensive ads. Don’t bite the hand that feeds you. My friend reminded me that her husband works for a newspaper and he’s never seen the “smoking gun memo” that substantiates the that corporations are telling the news media what stories to avoid covering. She says that the problem is that the media is understaffed and lazy, not that they are biased.
I responded that I don’t think that there actually NEEDS to be a memo. As long as the media picks on little targets and celebrity news, there isn’t much blow-back. But if they were to take on a big target in a big way, the reporters and editors already KNOW that the switchboard would light up and email will come pouring in from big shots affiliated with corporations, making them wish they they had just stuck with the tried and true (e.g., celebrity news, sports, shootings and accidents). There is a substitute for a smoking gun memo, and it’s the overall lack of reporting critical of corporations that is not simply reporting on an ongoing legal dispute or where one corporation criticizes another. Many people think that circumstantial cases are necessarily weak, but this is not true. Criminals are sent to prison based on circumstantial evidence.
I’ll be on the lookout for a good study that demonstrates the problem, and I’m certainly open to evidence to the contrary. In the meantime, I’ve just noticed two recent stories that exemplify the political power of money.
Example 1: The New Yorker has just published a detailed article explaining how concentrated money is buying elections in North Carolina.
Example 2: Contrary to strong studies to the contrary, the Susan G. Komen for the Cure organization is claiming that the common chemical bisphenol A (BPA) presents no risk of cancer. Here’s an excerpt from a recent Mother Jones article, “Is Susan G. Komen Denying the BPA-Breast Cancer Link?”:
In April 2010 Komen posted an online statement saying that BPA had been “deemed safe.” And a more recent statement on Komen’s website about BPA, from February 2011, begins, “Links between plastics and cancer are often reported by the media and in email hoaxes.” Komen acknowledges in its older statement that the Food and Drug Administration is doing more studies on BPA, but also says that there is currently “no evidence to suggest a link between BPA and risk of breast cancer.”