John Oliver warns us that the death of newspapers makes us all far more vulnerable to political corruption
Here is yet another excellent video by John Oliver. This issue of the defunding of responsible newspaper reporting, and the lack of investigative journalism effects you and me every day. The answer, I believe is public funding of legitimate media, because it is a common good that can no longer sustain itself. Oliver’s ending video is a very sharp sword. We are living in dangerous times where no one is babysitting most of those in power at all levels of government. We can’t have a democracy without the Fourth Estate. We are rapidly approaching the time when we won’t have a Fourth Estate, merely a shell of what it used to be. This is an extremely complex and serious issue. Thank you, John Oliver for given it the spotlight. Please share.
For more on this loss of serious reporting, consider the writings of Robert McChesney and John Nichols, including Dollarocracy: How the Money and Media Election Complex is Destroying America.
I spoke with John Nichols a few years ago about the loss of reporters:
Voters in America not only aren’t over-empowered, they’ve for decades now been almost totally disenfranchised, subjects of one of the more brilliant change-suppressing systems ever invented.
We have periodic elections, which leave citizens with the feeling of self-rule. But in reality people are only allowed to choose between candidates carefully screened by wealthy donors. Nobody without a billion dollars and the approval of a half-dozen giant media companies has any chance at high office.
THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY’S 2012 platform pledged to “curb the influence of lobbyists and special interests.” But the 2016 convention in Philadelphia will be officially hosted by lobbyists and corporate executives, a number of whom are actively working to undermine progressive policies achieved by President Barack Obama, including health care reform and net neutrality.
Some of the members of the 2016 Democratic National Convention Host Committee, whose job is to organize the logistics and events for the convention, are hardly even Democratic Party stalwarts, given that many have donated and raised thousands of dollars for Republican presidential and congressional candidates this cycle.
The composition of the 15-member Host Committee may appear out of sync with the rhetoric of Democratic presidential candidates Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton, but the reality is that the party, in the form of the Democratic National Committee, has moved decisively to embrace the lobbying industry.
It’s extraordinary the extent to which “news” personalities are trying to bait Bernie Sanders to abandon the issues and engage in personal attacks or horse-race politics. This recent interview with Andrea Mitchell is a good example of this approach by a interviewer and Bernie Sanders’ approach to bringing the discussion back to concrete issues.
Here’s the bottom line of a Princeton study, “Does the Government Represent the People?”:
Gilens & Page found that the number of Americans for or against any idea has no impact on the likelihood that Congress will make it law.
“The preferences of the average American appear to have only a miniscule, near-zero, statistically non-significant impact upon public policy.”
One thing that does have an influence? Money. While the opinions of the bottom 90% of income earners in America have a “statistically non-significant impact,” Economic elites, business interests, and people who can afford lobbyists still carry major influence.
The study found that nearly every issue we face as a nation is caught in the grip of corruption. Industries given special attention are those who provide the most funding to politicians: Energy, Telecommunications, Pharmaceuticals, Defense, Agribusiness and Finance.
Even though this conversation was the result of a prank, it substantiates what many of us imagine when we think of politicians talking with their rich owners, otherwise known as contributors. Here’s how Scott Walker talks when he allegedly has no time to talk to anyone else, and when the caller is purportedly David Koch. I think of this kind of thing as pillow talk between a prostitute and his customer.