Transcript: Thom Hartmann: The Big Picture: Why the news from NPR to the networks doesn't tell the truth. 19 September '11
Who’s the latest victim of the right-wing spin machine?
The entire news media itself.
Today - President Obama unveiled his deficit reduction plan to force millionaires and billionaires to pay the same tax rates as average hardworking middle class Americans.
But if you were listening to the mainstream media’s take - the plan was a bit more one-sided - here's how NPR - National Public Radio - so-called left-wing radio - put it:
David Greene: And as part of today's recommendation, Mr. Obama is expected to spell out a plan for a big increase in tax revenue...
The White House is saying that his vision is going to be balanced. What does that mean? I mean, is that a code for tax increases?
Scott Horsley: It is. That's the expression he's used to say that you've got to attack the deficit not only on the spending side, but also on the revenue side. And he'll be calling for one and a half trillion dollars in additional tax revenue today. Most of that would come through higher taxes on the wealthy.
Tax the rich! Notice how they left off the critical second part of the sentence - tax the rich… so they pay the same rate as the rest of us working stiffs.
I don’t even think they realize it anymore - but right-wing talking points have infected news rooms all across America - so that even NPR can’t distinguish between actual honest reporting - and Frank Luntz’s poll-tested right wing messaging.
We saw this on clear display last week - when the entire news media jumped on President Obama in so-called “Solyndra-Gate.”.
The media suggested that the White House cut an ill-advised $500 million check to the solar company Solyndra - which eventually went bankrupt - in exchange for campaign contributions. They didn't go bankrupt for campaign contributions, they cut the check, that was the argument.
Even Jon Stewart fell for the media’s narrative:
So does the failure of one company discredit the entire idea of a green energy economy? Of course not. But if in, let's say, 1936, you spoke about the growing importance of air travel in front of, I don't know, the Hindenberg, you'd be right about the future of air travel, but you'd still be on f****** fire! Oh, the stupidity!
But now - as ThinkProgress - one of the last bastions of investigative journalism - has uncovered - the Solyndra loan had more of Bush’s fingerprints on it than Obama’s.
It was Bush who created the loan program - and spent 2 years urging the Department of Energy to approve the Solyndra loan - which it only did, or finally did only 2 months into President Obama’s term.
The media ignored that.
And - one of Solyndra’s top investors got their money from the Walton family - as in the people who owned Wal-Mart and are notorious contributors to the Republican Party - not exactly fans of the Obama presidency.
But putting all that aside - Solyndra represented just 1.3% of the entire Department of Energy’s loan portfolio - and is the only company receiving loans to fail - a little piece of information the media left out while trying to manufacture a scandal at the behest of their corporate shareholders.
Here's another example:
Did you know that thousands of people took to Wall Street over the weekend - and are currently camping out there as we speak to demand reforms to our economy - and demand that banksters be held accountable for their high crimes.
No? That’s because there pretty much wasn’t a peep from the mainstream media about it.
But if a few dozen Tea Partiers hold a rally in Kansas - then expect Fox so-called News to give it wall-to-wall coverage - which will then get picked up by the rest of the media, from CBS to NPR.
Not only is the right-wing spin machine distorting news stories - it’s also selecting which stories are and are not considered news.
I was a keynote speaker at the Fighting BobFest Rally in Wisconsin over the weekend - surrounded by ten thousand progressives - and didn’t see one member of the mainstream media there covering the event - not one.
Which is a shame - because if they were there - then they would have heard these words by investigative journalists Greg Palast - about how the media isn't doing its job anymore - and how it's more worried about protecting its corporate donors instead:
I don't want anyone crying or screaming or running for the exits but PBS, the public broadcasting system, doesn't always tell you the full truth... now, when PBS ran its program, it said literally, and I quote, that the BP culture is unlike the culture of Chevron and Shell. What they didn't tell you - what they left out of the story - well, let me see if you can guess. I'm going to bet you your Ken Burns CD/DVD set if you can tell me the name of the number one corporate sponsor of PBS.
Well, according to Greg, it's BP.
That's why PBS, he says, dropped the ball in covering the corporate crimes at BP - crimes that left 11 men dead in the Gulf of Mexico last year.
As Greg Palast went on to say:.
Eleven guys didn't die because of bad cement, they died because of a lie... Thank God you're here, because you're not going to hear it on the petroleum broadcast system, you're going to hear it here.
With the rise of corporate media - and our news dependent on turning a profit - investigative journalism just isn't profitable anymore.
Especially when you take on profitable and powerful industries that may advertise on or sponsor or underwrite your network - have you noticed all those oil and gas ads, for example, recently?
And while the nuclear industry has been keeping their heads down, they are huge and influential as well.
For example, did you see this protest over the weekend?
It was more than 60,000 people taking over and shutting down a large part of Tokyo, chanting "Sayanora, Nuclear Power" - goodbye, nuclear power.
And you probably didn't hear that two nuclear reactors are being built on the Gulf Coast of Texas - with Rick Perry's enthusiastic support - and one of the major partners is Tokyo Electric Power Company - TEPCO - as the owners and operators of Fushikima.
More people want to hear about which movie star broke up with her boyfriend in Hollywood - than about how some transnational oil corporation is poisoning the water supply in anytown, USA.
So - news bureaus react accordingly - and devote more resources to entertainment reports than actual journalists like Greg Palast.
And what do we get?
Low Information Voters - people who usually call themselves "independents" but in fact are just largely uninformed.
They're the biggest part of our electorate - they're the part that buys into lies about so-called "job creators" - and the President's birth certificate - and socialism - and keeps electing Republicans - and even a few Democrats - who push these lies year after year after year.
Real news media's job isn't to give us the news we WANT to know - it's to give us the news we NEED to know - the news that's crucial to keeping our democracy intact and functioning.
And, tragically, that's the news that their corporate donors today - don't want us to know.
As the man who wrote the Declaration of Independence - Thomas Jefferson - said -
Whenever the people are well-informed, they can be trusted with their own government;... whenever things get so far wrong as to attract their notice, they may be relied on to set them to rights.
If we want a functioning and successful democracy in this republic, we need to bring back programming in the public interest - the way it used to be before Reagan blew up the Fairness Doctrine in the 1980's - and bring back the investigative journalism that once shone a light on oligarchs and corporate corruption in America.
Only then will "We The People" have enough information to hold our politicians to account and truly make this country work well.
That's The Big Picture.