The Bailout, the Media, and the War Party Yes, they're connected...


One is hardly ever shocked anymore: that seems to be the defining characteristic of modernity. Yet I got to experience that rare sensation the other day when I read this blog item on Aha! I thought. So that’s why the MSNBCers are hailing the Big Bailout at the top of their lungs — their parent company, General Electric, also owns GE Capital, which was declared "too big to fail" and given its bailout infusion the day after the election.

The timing of this announcement was fairly interesting, as noted by conservative-libertarian columnist Jim Pinkerton. Pinkerton was rightly outraged when, in response to MSNBC’s Chris Matthews’ comment that his job is to "make this presidency work," he told a Fox News panel:

"Well, Matthews is entitled to his opinion, although if he wants to run for the Senate in Pennsylvania in 2010 as has been widely reported he should resign and not have a platform on the air. "But I think that the overall culture of MSNBC was established when they changed their slogan, post-election, to ‘The Power of Change.’ Now, that sounds a little bit familiar to the Obama campaign ‘Change We Can Believe In.’ Maybe that’s not an accident. "But of course, I think the big story here, I think it goes right to what MSNBC’s up to as a strategy, is the news that the FDIC, which is now following election returns, is guaranteeing $139 billion of General Electric Capital debt. That’s General Electric Capital, as in General Electric, which is the parent company of MSNBC, CNBC, NBC. Now, for a $139 billion guarantee, I’d consider, I’d probably go more, I’d probably go all the way over to the Olbermann/Maddow territory. $139 billion."

In answer to the question of why the current FDIC would reward MSNBC in this way, Pinkerton suggests that the bureaucracy is looking to the future — or, more accurately, its future — although he seems to back down a bit in describing the corporate proprietors of MSNBC as "lucky." This falls considerably short of outright bribery, but the sudden infusion of massive amounts of tax dollars into corporate mega-entities does indeed have profound implications for American journalism. In the age of bailouts, the wall of separation between the corporate media and the government — never that strong to begin with — is coming down, and this prospect is truly ominous.

I never fail to smile when I read contemptuous references in American news outlets to the "state-controlled media" of, say, Russia or China. This from the same crowd whose news "reporting" in the run-up to the invasion of Iraq might have been written by someone in the Pentagon press office — and probably was! With billions in bailout money pouring directly or indirectly into the corporate "mainstream" media, only the thinnest pretense of independence remains, with the more honest journalists like Matthews coming out of the closet, so to speak, as shills for the government, or this government, at any rate.

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