The “Women On Top” music video that my family and I created for the Hillary Clinton campaign has been getting an increased amount of views on YouTube this week, thanks to one of the bloggers on Daily Kos who liked it. I’m pleased that it is getting people to talk about the historical struggle for women’s rights and to do some research on women like Victoria Woodhull and Wilma Mankiller. The whole purpose of the video was to show Hillary’s bid for the White House in historical context and it seems that purpose was achieved. It’s especially exciting to see the involvement of so many young people in the political process, and I suspect that has much to do with the charisma and appeal of Senator Obama. For that, we can all be grateful.
I find myself much more attuned to this year’s campaign than in previous years. Though I’ve been politically active since I was old enough to vote, I’ve been following the cable news coverage of the campaigns more closely over the past month and I’ve seen a curious trend emerge. Why is it that the major media outlets who have been the virtual lapdogs of the Bush administration and neo-conservative oligarchy for the past 7 years are suddenly throwing their unabashed support to Barack Obama? I’d like to pose this as an open question to anyone reading this, but before I do, I need to provide you with my own historical context.
Back when I was part of the punk scene in the late seventies, I was about as politically naïve as they come. I had grown up believing in the notion of an impartial press. I was convinced that the newspapers and television news shows were unbiased and only presented facts and that it was up to the observer to interpret those facts in order to arrive at informed decisions. It was only as I became involved in activist events and causes that I realized that it wasn’t necessary to lie in order for the press to distort the truth or influence public opinion. They could do it by either focusing on or withholding their attention from an event or subject. I personally witnessed several of these instances of disinformation. I recall one especially large march and rally I attended with thousands of people in the streets of Downtown Los Angeles, protesting US intervention in Central America. We expected we’d be on the evening news and in the L.A. Times but the evening news came and went as did the next day’s paper, without even a mention of the massive rally. It was like the event never happened and those of us who participated were invisible. And that’s when I realized that the job of the mainstream media is not to inform the masses, but rather to help form and manipulate the opinions of the masses. Check out this link to Adbuster's Media Carta if you want to learn more: Media Carta.
As I’ve grown older, I am much more likely to question what the news media is selling on any given day. I already know who it benefits and it’s not the public interest. It’s the same with many crimes; follow the money and you’ll see who’s running the show and whose interests are being served. The appearance of impartiality wears a very flimsy frock these days. It seems that the taste makers are not just content to tell us what to buy, how to look and what to eat, they also have mastered a way to synthesize our values, add some slick packaging and sell them right back to us. Often, these values are sold to us through celebrities who are either held up as the embodiment of our values or as the antithesis of them. The celebrity making media machine cranks out pop stars to sell us everything from clothing to national policy. And that brings me back to my initial question: why is Obama their new darling? Has the media suddenly become liberal? Do they favor him because they want to change the status quo? Would a change in the status quo benefit the media or the owners of the newspapers and TV stations in the United States? Would it benefit their sponsors? Or is there some other reason?
I encourage you to write in, anonymously or otherwise, and I look forward to reading your thoughts on this subject.