The Humanist Report: Bernie Sanders Warns of the Power of Corporate Media

This morning Mike’s put up a piece attacking the mainstream media for their constant libels, falsehoods and misrepresentation of the Labour party, and their apparent success in convincing the general public that Labour, at least under Jeremy Corbyn, is unelectable.

Bernie Sanders wrote a piece in one of the American magazines a few weeks ago criticising the power of the corporate media in the US, and the way it constituted a genuine threat to democracy. The clip below is from the Humanist Report, whose host describes the article and Bernie’s argument.

Bernie stated that, as a rule, the issues that concern most working Americans are treated the least seriously by the corporate media, with those of severe concern to ordinary folks given the least serious coverage. The media also likes to present ‘politics as entertainment’, which explains the rise of Trump, an entertainer, who knows how to exploit this type of media coverage.

The media is also biased against working class issues and the politicos who stand up for working people, because of the power of the advertisers, in the extreme wealth of corporate presenters, and the shrinking number of corporations and the immensely wealthy tycoons that own them. Sanders points out that you don’t see any in-depth articles attacking the bloated prices for prescription drugs, that have made them unaffordable to the poor. That’s because American newspapers and corporate media make part of their revenue from the advertising from the pharmaceutical and health insurance companies.

The news presenters audiences see on their TV screens are also immensely rich through multi-million dollar contracts with the TV networks. Sanders points out that this doesn’t make them evil, but it does distance them from the bread and butter interests that matter to your average middle class person. Similarly, the number of companies that own the US media have also declined. There used to be about nine different companies owning American broadcasters. Now there are six. Thus the American media is increasingly in the hands of a small number of extremely powerful magnates. There are about 15 of these, whose individual wealth is in the billions.

This is dangerous because the corporate media still have the power to shape public opinion. For example, when Bernie was running for the presidential nomination last year, there was a more or less complete news blackout own him. But they gave plenty of coverage to that Nazi buffoon, Donald Trump. Academic studies, such as one made by Harvard, show that the corporate controlled media is effective in deciding which issues matters to Americans, such as terrorism.

The presenter states that this has been good for alternative media – for the Humanist Report, Secular Talk and The Young Turks, as people are increasingly turning to them. But it also means that the corporate-controlled media are failing in their job. They are meant to be the ‘fifth arm of government’, which keeps power in check and accountable to the American people. But they aren’t. They represent the aims and wishes of an immensely wealthy elite against those of the American people as a whole.

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