Part 12

"Things Have Become All Too Clear..."

For over a year, I have found myself almost entirely unable to watch much of the “alphabet news” shows on TV (CNN, ABC, NBC, CBS, MSNBC et al) without getting a knot in my stomach.  Too many overwhelming visual images at once—large imposing mastheads accompanied by loud electronic “War on Terror” theme music jack hammering my brain, overlaid with staccato synthesized percussion assaulting the psyche like a rapid fire AK-47—yes, graphics and audio as subtle as primal therapy, constantly pounding out war cries—brightly lit split-screen images, video bytes like bombs bursting, banners rapidly scrolling more news across the bottom of the screen—complex and varied imagery, input--designed not for informing, so much as for confounding.

I sit watching, overwhelmed, as the knot gnaws into my stomach, cognitive dissonance inevitably setting in (see Part 1 of this essay).  This is not an accidental or imagined bombardment of the senses but an intentional one, creating confusion and dependence.  Like junkies, we tune in to be over stimulated.

Except that I can no longer take the jolt.

Since moving to the country almost three years ago, my body began a process of weaning itself from such blood pressure elevating hypnotic media machinations.  I have lost my pressing need for escapism.  Moving to the country IS an escape.  I have subsequently lost track of an old TV Guide mentality.  I have forgotten what is “on” which days, which times. Gene and I have not subscribed to the only newspaper in town in almost 20 years. And living 40 miles from the nearest media generator, we don't get a wide array of commercial radio channels to choose from when stillness becomes its own burden.

I should mention that it rarely does.

I never realized how much constant visual and aural (ears) agitation we are daily subjected to, until we moved out here.   In the country, every somatic function subsequently slows down—blood pressures can drop, heart rates slow, breathing deepens--peace seems once again almost attainable.  Gene and I live too far out to have commercial water services or cablevision.  In fact, we are insulated against a majority of urban assaults.  I realize this especially when I drive into town for supplies, because I only have to get within five miles of the city limits to start feeling my neck tightening and my breathing changing.  Everything in my visual and aural realm jacks up a notch upon entering that carnival-esque realm known as ‘civilization.’  And I am too soon assaulted by bright and often flashing lights, rapidly racing automobile drivers possessing inherent dog-eat-dog determination to be first by being fastest--flagrantly indifferent to all life forms, whizzing past billboards and advertisements covering a large portion of urban landscape—endemic in proportion; unnoticed by most--in the same way Gene and I once had grown so conditioned to the constant rumble of neighborhood freight trains that until folks came to visit and queried us about the alarming regularity of it; we forgot it was there.

 “We just don't hear it any more,” we would honestly respond.

Same was true with our little Big Ben mantle clock.  We just didn't hear it anymore, although it chimed four times an hour.  On the hour it produced a symphony of chimes.  It simply became part of an environmental cacophony we had gown accustomed to; hence, we no longer noticed.

Moving to the country really exposed all that we had previously been sensorally inundated with.  There are no trains passing by us now.  Our Big Ben mantel clock finally wound down and is but a silent sentimental mantel ornament.

It is startlingly quiet out here.  It is so quiet that an old friend visiting our new home on the plateau for the first time grasped our back porch rail, closed his eyes, and opined, “Why it's so quiet out here, you can hear your ear noise.” I cannot improve on that observation, but will try to expand on it.   Without the incessant inundation of urban environmental input, my brain can now breathe.  When one’s brain can breathe, one can think better.   In suburbia, I often had headaches.   I used to try to explain to Gene how my brain just sometimes felt too full.  Now I know—it was.

Not a problem out here anymore—Gene and I can breathe better all the way around.   Think of it like this—could you perpetually enjoy a TV channel that was constantly loud and snowy and scratchy and distorted?   That's what a constant state of white noise is like to your ears.  Frantic images and loud noise create distortion in and overstimulation of the senses. Overstimulation also creates massive agitation and anxiety.  It is why lots of city dwellers often seek the sensory depriving attributes of retreats to mountains, woodlands, and other less populated, remote places.   We instinctively, though not always consciously, need for our internal molecules to move at a lower RPM than we have grown accustomed to.

I could go on about the incredible physiological benefits to be derived from the peace and quiet of the country, but truly that is not the thrust of this chapter.  I want to talk about what many of you are still being inundated with and how you've grown to accept subjection to a constant sensory assault   And why it might be that those of us somewhat farther removed from the perpetual pounding of incessant war drums, are finding ourselves increasingly less influenced by them

Along with our quiet country home, we inherited an old C-band satellite system. On it we can get approximately 200+ television shows and international radio stations.  For the first month I lived here (Gene was out on tour) I didn’t even turn the thing on.  Well, truth was, I didn’t know how.  But I didn’t mind because just being here was its own adventure.  In fact it took a year before we completely figured out how to get around on the machine at all, mostly because there is generally much to do out here and at the end of the day, little time left for “escape” via the boob tube.

However, in the Fall of 2000, after a long string of cold, rainy days here by myself, I had about all I could take of staring repeatedly down the misty canyon and, voilla-- I gathered up the remote control and C-band handbook.

Interestingly, much of what can be viewed on this contraption is not commercial in nature.  For example, there are at least 20 different Nebraska Educational channels, alone, on one satellite.  We can also get NASA.  I have yet to count the array of diverse radio signals beamed in via satellite—but to name a few: the Canadian Broadcasting system, the BBC, CNN worldwide, some kind of radio Pakistan, France, and probably something in the neighborhood of 60 shortwave radio channels which, unlike actual shortwave transmissions, do not float.  Oh, we also have a regular antenna on the roof which allows us to receive “local” programming as well.  Including PBS in two adjacent Texas cities.  (Gene can enjoy the Antiques Road Show twice on Mondays.)

I have to tell you, though, that for the most part we are outdoor people, and we don't spend much of time with the satellite on.  We have seven acres on which to which to roam, hills and woods, and a 2-acre pond at the foot of our hill to walk around, canoe, or fish in, and lots of cedar to chop, and a year-round garden to tend.  The dogs love it out here—it must be healthier for them, too; our little dog Wally will be 18 years old in May, and though his eyesight is failing, as well as his hearing, he still takes the long walk with us to our mail box each time that we do.

Here’s what we see on our way to the mailbox:

I can honestly say that shine or rain, there isn’t an ugly day out here.  This is an entirely inspirational place to be.  There is little evidence of man's dominance here.  Consequently, I am once again forced to contemplate the origins and meaning of our existence.

Dawn, from our back porch....

You see, in the asphalt jungle there mostly exists evidence of all that man has made.  Out here, we must consider the possibility of Creation.  And yet regardless of where one lives, whatever (pre)dominates the landscape can become exalted as lord in that domain.  In many civilizations humans worship the thing exalted.  And sometimes entire civilizations are governed by the thing exalted.

Out here the ranchers have an old saying—“Texas; where CATTLE is KING!”

Probably toward the western rim of the state, they say, “Texas; where OIL is KING!”

Well, it was my experience while in our previous urban context, there was other stuff exalted, as well—success, business, the economy, real estate, education, entertainment, and those various strata of government.   Within those contexts there were the lords of the domains, too, the Michael Dells, the Gary Bradleys, the Coach Royals, the Tim O’Conners, the Mayor, the City Manager, the City Council, PTA presidents, etc.

And so it goes.   Each context has its own icon/leaders/kings/gods –often as a result of those individuals’ successive achievements.  And wherever there's an icon/leaders/kings/god, there's a kingdom to keep in order/obeisance.

Out here, there are different choices of icons to consider—nature (pantheism), a creator of nature (theism or deism), our successful and retired neighbors (humanism), ourselves (narcissism or atheism).  And, of course, there rural icons within each context, and so on.  Like ranchers exalting cattle.  Farmers exalting trucks.  Yuppies exalting riding lawn mowers.  Astronomers exalting stars.  Foresters exalting trees.   Hunters exalting the chase and/or guns.  Fishermen exalting lures and/or boats.   Quilters exalting digital sewing machines.   Bakers exalting convection ovens.   Writers exalting their own musings……

Every kingdom has its icons.  Every universe has its god(s).

And the primary tool constantly shaping and influencing what we know of our contexts, remains, as always-- the media.

Out here, survival is contingent upon receipt of accurate information concerning weather and ranch reports, road closings, and school lunch menus.  World issues do not tend to prioritize our attention unless such threaten our existence.  We trust what we hear and read out here to be true because our lives literally depend on such truth.  But just like our neighbors in the city, country media is sustained by whoever purchases advertising (and subscriptions), by whoever spends money in it.  And just like city dwellers, country dwellers/reader/viewer/listeners get our information filtered through that financial lens. In other words, there is a (in)vested financial interest in the news, and wherever large $$$ is thrown down, there is sway.  This is the reality whether one lives in Metropolis or Podunk—whatever sells, is king.

In North Carolina where I was raised, tobacco was king. “North Carolina—where tobacco is KING.” And yet, as we learned from the deceit of tobacco companies, whoever can control human choice/behavior, can better maintain financial security.  In other words,  rather than waiting to find out WHAT sells (effective as rolling dice), it is way more efficacious to inform people what to buy (rolling your own weighted dice).  A wise initial investment for those seeking to make money selling product, is to find out what people like (or what is forbidden to them), then offer it and make them think they thought of buying it.  Ruth Handler understood this when she spun a mere plastic doll into sheer iconography. [1]

In a more sinister context—if you want to control a social context--create a problem, bring it to the attention of the masses, and offer a (limited range of) solution(s).  Control how they view the problem, and one can control the solution.  Offer them two political parties.  Minimize the significance of the rest.  Let them think they should only pick between those two valid parties possessing social primacy.

Hegelian Dialectic: problem, reaction, solution. (See Part 2)

Now type Hegelian Dialectic into a search engine and read.   It is a highly effective means of control.   Great tyrants understood this.   First define the problem,  others will react, then offer a (limited choice) solution.  “Either you're with us or against us.”  If you want to make people think they have a voice or have participated in the solution, offer them more than one choice—false choices; control the parameters--Democratic or Republican; Libertarians are communists—set up a contrived solution, limiting choices, and you control the outcome.

Sound far fetched?  Monopolies are acquired easily on this premise.  We know who the best automobile manufacturers are.  Or do we?  We know who got to the moon first.  Or do we?  We know who invented the television.  Or do we?  We know who first landed at Plymouth Rock.  Or do we?  We know which Bible was carried over by the Pilgrims.  Or do we?  We know our country was founded as “One nation under God.”  Or do we?  We know who won the 2000 presidential election.  Or do we?   We know why air force jets weren't scrambled to intercept any of the four deadly jets on September 11. Or do we? We know Saddam Hussein is worse than Hitler? Or do we?  We know a war is justified because Iraq has weapons of mass destruction.   Or do we?

Well, I ask you—HOW DO YOU KNOW???  Where did you get your information?

How do news anchors and journalists get paid?  Who pays their salaries?  Where do the TV and radio stations get money to pay salaries with?   Who owns the newspapers you read?  How are they owned?  Have you ever considered that if the news does not generate viewers, generate advertising $$$, broadcasters and news stations would be out of work.  Why do you think PBS means PUBLIC radio?  Whose donations keep it afloat.  Who are their biggest contributors (whose names ran at the beginning and end of every single PBS show)?   Did you ever ask yourself what kind of money had to be contributed to PBS give one’s (corporate) name primacy in the credits of a particular program?    How dependent was PBS on those major contributors?  How influential do you think those $$$$ are in the actual choice of program material?  Now, PBS is called Public Radio INTERNATIONAL.  H-m-m-m-mmm.

I learned how the financial ‘game’ was played as an independent recording artist.  Even though “payola” ($$$ for airplay) was allegedly outlawed years ago, financial influence found its way back into airplay via various alternative INCENTIVES in order to secure the promise of and control airplay—i.e., dinners, vacations, backstage passes et al.  And as the financial stakes climbed, the subsequent ante also escalated.   And as the money and merchandise flew around in a swirl of courtship, small independent stations not offering the promise of million-selling-listenership, got swallowed up financially and spit out by bigger, more financially promising fish—players—corporate radio.  And independent artists like myself who could not afford to purchase advertising or spend thousands of dollars in self-promotion, or offer vacations to radio programmers—get lost in the shuffling of bigger wallets.  If it were not for the emergence of the internet and its universal visibility, I would have disappeared from the musical landscape altogether.

Knowing the futility of my own battle with the thing which makes or breaks all artists—the commercial media—I can promise you, the principle works the same for everyone.  If you want to insure stardom, you must invest in your star, then control their training and image, spend money on promoting your product, and purchase advertising, and give incentives to radio stations.

If you want to start a war, be prepared to spend dollars necessary to insure your war gets airplay, so you and your war become part of the “news.”  And if you or your contributors/constituents can afford the $$$$$$ for repeated airplay of your “product” on the news, you can guarantee that people will “buy” (rather, support) it.

Listen to Simon explain this premise the nest time you are watching American Idol.  How do you think Brittney Spears ‘made it’?   Someone invested a boat load of money to insure her success and a return on their investment.

Why do you think certain movies are in LOTS of theaters, while other "artier” movies may not be appearing at all in a theater anywhere near you?  That's right….they were not only made with, but promoted with, smaller budgets.   It’s $$$ that greases the media wheels.  It’s $$$$$ that dictates who and what you hear on the radio; you do not pick stars—artists are shoved into your consciousness via FM and CNN and Entertainment Tonight (did you really think they proffered what interests you—no, they proffers what they've invested in—like, for example, Entertainment Tonight on Fox promoting Fox's Michael Jackson interview), and you unwittingly are swayed thusly.  $$$$$$ influences decisions. $$$$$$$$$$ dictates outcomes and $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$ manipulates the future.  The lure of $$$$$ and personal gain influences congressional leaders, and busboys, alike.

How many dealers ever sold drugs because they enjoyed the company they were keeping?   How much of what you eat, see, wear, listen to, and think about, was influenced by someone else's $$$$$$$$$ investment?

You’d be greatly surprised.

Do you think the public actually clamored for GAP clothing stores, or was GAP just a store we discovered at the mall one day when we went shopping for jeans?  Then, there were all those great GAP commercials.  For awhile, everyone in them wore the same baggy GAP clothes.  Imagine exalting a deadly way of life to the point of making the clothing that urban “gangstas” wear, a fashion trend.  Even country boys eventually chose baggy jeans with large pockets (for concealing weapons/handguns) over bib overalls.  How were they persuaded to accept this bizarre fashion trend?  MTV.  Movies.  Radio.  Persistence.  Repetition.  Lack of apparent choices.  Soon all clothing stores carried baggy jeans, not wanting to be left out of their chunk of the $$$$$$$$ but kids just thought they all wanted to dress that way.  Wherever sufficient financial force is exerted, one's product can become exalted.  And whatever is exalted also becomes desired.

God did not waste his “sheep” metaphor on a landscape of leaders.  We are indeed sheepish.   And if we fall into a ditch we have trouble knowing how to recover.  We look for others to lead us, help us, encourage us.  Most of us do not instinctively lead.  Such is our ilk as governed people.  And we count on the news to tell us what our leaders are doing, and what we should do ourselves (as well as what to eat, what not to eat, what to wear, what sports event to watch, and who’s climbing up the charts that we should rush out and purchase that CD).

Additionally, we are continually subjected to information foisted upon us by commercials and advertisements.  Commercials tell us who to invest with, what to drive, where to buy, what kind of ISP is best, which cell phone service to purchase, and generally offer us a (limited range of) choice(s) for how to survive.  The are products and philosophies shoved into our urban consciousness daily via billboards, bus and subway marquis, bus benches and magazines.   And we select product from only the available reservoirs.  I mean, is there any other cell phone service besides ATT Wireless, MCI, Sprint, and Cingular?

How do you know?

Who were the other presidential candidates in 2000?  Why were they not as preferred as the Democrat/Republican choices?  Is it really because anyone who is neither a Democrat nor Republican, is an idiot?

How do you know?

Is there really so little money in the state coffers that severe cutbacks must be made in education, teacher employment, teacher salaries, and property taxes are going to increase again?

How do you know?

Our country is in economic crisis, we have an impossibly huge national debt, we are to fund a hundred year war on terrorism, and yet recently our President has offered Turkey upwards of $24 BILLION DOLLARS to let us park our ships nearby [2], and offered Vladimir Putin $10 BILLION for Saddam's head [3].  What kind of checkbook accounting is that?   Is there an economic crisis here, or not?

How do you know?

Look at the price of gasoline going up.   What about all that gas we are pumping BACK into the ground in Alaska--isn't there enough gas and oil in that state alone to reduce/eliminate US dependency altogether on outside sources? Answer--yes there is...oil and gas for at least a couple of hundred years. [4]
How do I know this?  Try reading a copy of "Petroleum News, Alaska," for yourself.  While you're at it, step outside the box--read a copy of the "Caspian Oil Industry News Online", as well.

Now I ask you again, how is it that you know Saddam Hussein is evil incarnate and that he indeed is developing/has weapons of mass destruction?   Right—you trust what you hear over and over.

Please go read these articles about "truth" re: The Gulf War/ Operation Desert Storm:

What is the FCC? Can anyone have a monoploy on the media?  How do you know?

Did you know Colin Powell’s son, Michael is Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, our FCC?  Do you think there could be a bias there?

Now, I want to ask my more conservative friends and family, why do you think you haven’t heard that Saddam Hussein governs one of the only Christian- tolerant countries in the Arab world?   In Saudi Arabia, there are no Christian churches.  Many Christian churches worldwide keep lists of those (rare to non-existent) Christian churches in Islamic countries. Surprisingly, there are around fifty in the city of Baghdad, alone.

Where was the birthplace/cradle of civilization was alleged to be?   What about the ancestral leader of ethnic and spiritual Israel, itself, Abram (later, Abraham)—he was born in, that’s correct—Ur of the Chaldees, in what is now Iraq.   What were the original boundaries of God’s “promised land” to Israel?  DId you know that the northernmost boundary was to be the Euphrates River itself, right there in Iraq.

Informative articles & maps here:,0,1563608.htmlstory?coll=ny-sbp-headlines

What about this issue of oil?  What about it?

Well, let's see if I can first demonstrate that what we are learning via our limited, bought and paid-for biased media, is not all we need to know, and that the paradigms of "liberal" and "conservative" are false ones and foisted on us to keep us bickering amongst ourselves so that we don't seek more information that we are given....then we'll look at oil's relationship.......

On October 25 of last year, 2002, PBS commentator Bill Moyers interviewed FFC Commissioner,  Michael Copps, and Tribune Media (L.A.Times et al) Vice President, Shaun Sheehan-- regarding the (aforementioned) increasing “commercialism” and (then) impending consolidation of the media:

(For a current transcript go to:

BILL MOYERS: The FCC was established in 1934 to see that the nation's broadcasters served the public interest — making sure the airwaves were used for more than commercial purposes alone.

HISTORICAL TAPE: "The item is adopted..."

MOYERS: Things have changed over the years. Just listen to FCC Chairman Michael Powell:

    FCC CHAIRMAN MICHAEL POWELL (...son of Colin Powell; FROM TAPE): “This is the most unique period in the history of the Federal Communications Commission. Every single             area  that we have regulatory oversight for is in the midst of its most profound revolution ever."

MOYERS: That revolution has brought new technologies, like the Internet, cable and satellite television. But it has also brought on the greatest concentration of media ownership in American history. Now the FCC is considering dismantling the last rules that would prevent even more consolidation. That's exactly what media giants have been lobbying the name of economic efficiency.

SHAUN SHEEHAN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE TRIBUNE COMPANY: In Chicago, we have 650 people on the editorial staff. In LA, in Los Angeles for the LA Times, it's well over 1,000.

MOYERS: Shaun Sheehan is Vice President of the Tribune Company, one of the country's largest broadcasters and newspaper publishers. The Tribune is pushing for an end to the rule that prevents a company from owning a newspaper and a television station in the same market.

SHEEHAN: If you take that reportorial talent and put it to use on television, Internet, what have you, get the words out over multiple platforms, you better serve your audience.

MICHAEL COPPS, FCC COMMISSIONER: If you take this to its logical conclusion, you could end up with a situation where one company owns the newspaper, the television station, the radio station and the cable system.

MOYERS: Michael Copps is the lone Democrat on the FCC.

COPPS: That may have some economic efficiencies attached to it, but I daresay it also has some profound democratic and social and political considerations that we ignore only at our own tremendous peril.

MOYERS: But consolidation is the trend. In 1975 there were some 1500 owners of full-power TV stations and daily newspapers. By 2000, that number had dropped to about 625.

And remember the Telecommunications Act of 1996?  It led to a wave of mergers. There are now 1,700 fewer owners of commercial radio stations — a one-third decline. Today, just a few players dominate. One conglomerate alone - Clear Channel - owns more than 1,200 stations and controls 11 percent of the market. And by the way - that legislation was also supposed to lower the rates you pay for your cable service. Instead, costs have increased almost 30 percent. Why? Because the big giveaway of  '96 did not increase competition - it increased monopoly. The nation's seven largest cable operators control more than 75 percent of the market.

Yes, it's true: the typical cable consumer today receives about 60 channels. But those so-called "choices" are determined by a handful of corporate giants … companies like Viacom, AOL-Time Warner, Disney, and News Corp.

But do we hear about all this from the mainstream media? Hardly.  Of the major broadcasters, only ABC reported the FCC's recent decision to review media ownership rules … and that report was at 4:40 in the morning. While the big newspapers did somewhat better, only the LOS ANGELES TIMES mentioned that its corporate owner, the Tribune Company, was actively lobbying for deregulation.

GENE KIMMELMAN, CONSUMERS UNION: Those broadcasters and newspapers are whom we rely upon to tell that story and allow the American people to have that public debate. And they don't want to have that debate. They want a deregulatory minded administration just to get out of their way, eliminate ownership limitations, let them join together. And the American people unfortunately may find out about this on the back end after its all happened.

MOYERS: And while the public's been left unaware of what's happening, time is running out. The FCC has set a December 2nd deadline for public comments on the proposed changes. Commissioner Copps wants more debate and more time for it:

COPPS: I think we need to go out across the country and talk to all of the stakeholders in the great American communications revolution of our time. And in point of fact, every American is a stakeholder.

This past rainy Friday (Feb. 21, 2003) night I channel surfed to PSB, stumbling into a surprising interview, again with Bill Moyers, who was once again examining the issue of rapidly growing media control and its prohibitive filtering of information.

I offer it for your edification:

(Moyers interviews media experts John Nichols and Robert McChesney, co-authors: OUR MEDIA, NOT THEIRS, about the current state of the media in the United States and how it’s affecting democracy.  McChesney, a research associate professor in the Institute of Communications Research and the Graduate School of Information and Library Science at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, is the author of "Telecommunications, Mass Media, and Democracy: The Battle for the Control of U.S. Broadcasting, 1928-35" & "Rich Media--Poor Democracy,"and other books on media-- and Nichols, Washington correspondent for THE NATION, evaluate the influence of corporate interests on the free press, which they contend have become a major barrier to the exercise of democracy.)
BILL MOYERS: John Nichols, you call your book OUR MEDIA. What do you mean by that?

JOHN NICHOLS: The media in this country was intended by the founders of this country to be ours, to be something that served us as citizens.

ROBERT MCCHESNEY: And what we've had happen to our media system in the United States in the past 50 years especially, is it's increasingly become the province of private commercial interests to use — to suit their own naked self interest to advance their commercial concerns. And the political concerns and the social concerns of free press as a hallmark of democracy have been lost in the shuffle.

JOHN NICHOLS: I don't think that the current structures of media allow journalists to do the job that Jefferson and Madison and the founders of this country, intended. Their concept was that you don't restrain what people say. That you — and here's the critical thing — Jefferson and Madison, I hate to inform Rupert Murdoch on this, that they weren't thinking about him. That was not their idea that some Australian press magnate could come to the United States and buy up media and create Fox, or do whatever. They were anticipating small farmers, small business people, coming together maybe to start a newspaper in their town. And...

BILL MOYERS: But we don't live in that world anymore.

JOHN NICHOLS: Well, we don't live as far from it as we think. We have created structures that make it virtually impossible to do that.

BILL MOYERS: What do you mean?

JOHN NICHOLS: Look at how our broadcast systems are structured in this country. Look at what we're talking about...

ROBERT MCCHESNEY: Giving all the air waves to a handful of firms to own. There's nothing written in natural law that we have to turn over these lucrative monopoly licenses to our prime air waves to a handful of enormous trans-national firms. There's nothing in the First Amendment that says that. The press system is really the oxygen of a free society. You can't govern your own lives with a viable press system. The founding fathers, Jefferson and Madison, understood that. Their notion of freedom of the press was that the people of the country have to consciously construct a system that fosters diverse views and examination of policies, and draws people into social life.

BILL MOYERS: So how is the media failing us in your judgment, in your estimate?

ROBERT MCCHESNEY: Well, I think the problem we face is that the sort of drawing people into social life to understand issues, to understand how people in power operate, to keep them in check, and people who want to be in power, gets lost in the shuffle. That's not where the most money can be made.

Unfortunately, where the money lies, where the profits are for the firms that own and dominate our media system, comes in sort of zeroing out the journalism. Because that's too expensive to do the hard stuff. Gets you in trouble with people in power. So you have a situation where the same companies that control our broadcast journalism, they're going for the government, trying to get tax relief and deregulation, so they get bigger and bigger. Or are they gonna want to be tough on the same government they're looking for special deals from.

BILL MOYERS: Give me some examples of how you think journalism, corporate journalism, is failing us. Take politics. What's an example?

JOHN NICHOLS: We had, in the fall of 2000, a political crisis in this country, and one that the whole world took very, very seriously. We had an unsettled Presidential election. And yet, our media tended to cover that as purely a political fight between two parties.  Baker would get up and say the Bush line. Warren Christopher would get up and say the Gore line. And that would be accepted pretty much as the end of the story. There were too few people saying, "Look, we're not gonna 'do stenography', to power. We're not gonna take this official source versus that official source. We're gonna go for the truth. And I think that what we have in this...

BILL MOYERS: Because truth would have been?

JOHN NICHOLS: The truth is, who won?

ROBERT MCCHESNEY: Investigate what they're saying...

JOHN NICHOLS: Yeah, let's really get in there and...

ROBERT MCCHESNEY: ...balancing the two claims, investigate what they're saying...

BILL MOYERS: Some papers did that, don't you think?

JOHN NICHOLS: Some did. And, but you know what the interesting thing is? That much of the best journalism about it — and this is, I think, broadly accepted — was done by British papers. What I'm saying is that the notion of a pox on both your houses is a healthy one for journalists to practice, to disbelieve both official sources, and to go for — suggest that, well maybe they're both spinning us.

ROBERT MCCHESNEY: You know, I think what happened is our whole electoral coverage has really deteriorated in the country. And if you look at the figures, the amount of coverage of electoral campaigns in broadcast media has plummeted. At the same time, what's happened is the amount of campaign advertising has risen dramatically. So we've seen that the main unit for a candidate to run now is their political advertising.

BILL MOYERS: You write in your book, "Elected leaders refuse any longer to address what the American people want to know about. But they will tell you, the media mavens will tell you, "We're giving people what they want."

JOHN NICHOLS: I wish they'd come out and talk to my mom.

BILL MOYERS: Your mom?

JOHN NICHOLS: My mom, on Union Grove, Wisconsin. And...

BILL MOYERS: Population?

JOHN NICHOLS: It's about 3,000.


JOHN NICHOLS: And you know, my mom has pretty much, gotten pretty close to giving up on television news. She says, "You know, it's just — this is just ridiculous."

"I wanna know what's going on. I wanna know real information about whether we should go to war. When the question of "why do they hate us" comes up, I want a real dialogue about that. I don't want, you know, 'Well, they must be crazy because they're French.'"

BILL MOYERS: But John, they wouldn't be doing this if it didn't make money. They wouldn't be making money if enough people weren't watching to satisfy the advertisers.

ROBERT MCCHESNEY: You know, you're right. But the way to look at this, it's not all demand driven. I think the crucial thing is much of this is supply driven. The reason we don't have international coverage, or hard investigative pieces on how power works in our society, isn't that people aren't necessarily interested in it. That basically isn't done because it costs so much. It's so much cheaper to have a couple of blowhards exchange insults...

BILL MOYERS: Well now, let's not get personal.


ROBERT MCCHESNEY: Or so much cheaper to have some sort of press release of what someone in power is, than to go out and investigate the press release. So it's really supply driven. It's just inexpensive to do. And then of course when people watch it, they say, "Well, we're giving people what they want." But let's give them some really good investigative journalism, how power works in our society. I think people love that. They're just not given a choice to vote for that in the marketplace.

BILL MOYERS: What's the truth we're not getting right now from the press in the Iraqi buildup?

ROBERT MCCHESNEY: Let me put this one in context. The United States has been in 7, 8  major wars in the last 100 years. World War I, World War II, Korea, Vietnam, the Central American wars, the first Persian Gulf war. Those are the major ones. We now know historically that in each case the administration in power wanted to push a war and it was willing to lie, do whatever it took to get the support of the American people to do it.  So I think if you're a working journalist, and I teach journalism, what you should go — any  time there's a government that says, "we've got to go to this war" and starts waving the flag and telling you, "we have to...have to..." and the more passion you get, the more you check for your wallet. The more you get skeptical, the more you say, "Well, wait a second, we've been down this road before. We're journalists. We better get to the bottom of this and investigate all this and not take them at face value." And that's the starting point of good journalism when it comes to getting into war.

And if you start there, I think John, you can field this, but in the claims that we're being given, a lot of them are just taken at face value and not being investigated.

JOHN NICHOLS: Now one of the things in this incredible period is the way that we treat the French. There is sort of this line of, "well the French must be crazy." You know how could they not be with us? And how can the Germans not be with us? And what's with this 'old Europe'?  Well, the fact of the matter is, it's a good question folks might ask. Could it possibly be that the French and the Germans know more than we do? Like they have learned a lot more over a number of recent years certainly, about Afghanistan and about Iraq and about those parts of the world.

And more importantly, might they have had experiences that would be worthy of pondering? And I think good journalism would go and ask, you know, "why aren't you with us?" And I would also look at one other thing that I think has really been lost. And that is, that in every country in the western — every western democracy, there's a huge debate about this war.

Let's actually go beneath that surface level, are you with us or against us? And look at what's really going on in all of these countries.

BILL MOYERS: But the United States government ostensibly has intelligence sources that say there is a link between al-Qaeda and Iraq. Maybe the French intelligence don't have that or the German intelligence don't have that. Are you saying we shouldn't give our leaders the benefit of the doubt when they say that we have this information and you need to trust us?

JOHN NICHOLS: Of course not.

ROBERT MCCHESNEY: Of course not.

JOHN NICHOLS: Why would you ever give any — this is...

ROBERT MCCHESNEY: In the matter of war and peace given the track record of our leaders in war and peace this century?

BILL MOYERS: These people are trying to kill you and you and me. These terrorists who struck one mile from here on the 11th of September.

JOHN NICHOLS: The war on terror is a terrific example of where, I think, media has failed us. But it didn't fail us after September 11th. It failed us before. If you remember the summer before September 11th, think about what the big story of that summer was. There were two of them actually. One was Gary Condit's sex life. And boy, the cable channels were going back every night. You know we found he maybe tied somebody to a bed. We knew more details about Gary Condit's sex life than our own.

BILL MOYERS: And the audiences were way up.

JOHN NICHOLS: Oh they were. And the other big story was shark attacks off Florida. Now it turned out there weren't any more shark attacks than any other year but it was a fun story to do. And so again and again reporters on the beach talking about shark attacks.

 Well, you know what? Maybe if during that period we had devoted — we in the media, and I count myself as a part of it — if we'd devoted a little more of our resources to just checking the official terrorism warnings, to listening to Gary Hart and Lorne Rudman who had put in quite a remarkable report.

BILL MOYERS: Former Senators who were...


BILL MOYERS: ...who were heading this commission on...

JOHN NICHOLS: They're saying that there's a — we are looking at a potential terrorist attack. Maybe if we've done what much of the rest of the world's media do, which is actually spend  some time in Afghanistan. Look at some of the 'churn' that was going on there. And maybe  if we asked the question of, "well, why did we send planes over to bomb Afghanistan a few years ago? What's there that we're so concerned about?" Maybe if we'd done a better job before September 11th, at the very least, if September 11th had happened, we wouldn't have had ordinary citizens the day after saying, "What's going on here? Why do they hate us?"

I think George W. Bush has every right, and indeed a responsibility, to 'spin' this situation and to talk about this situation as he believes is proper. As he believes we should go. But I think good journalism takes George W. Bush and his opinion and then takes other opinions. Mixes it all up. Gives people access to a lot of that dialogue, to a lot of that debate and let's the American people make some decisions. Remember, this is not just about the  President. This is about the people.

BILL MOYERS: Now you say in here that the system that has created our media is one of the  most corrupt you can imagine. What do you mean by that?

ROBERT MCCHESNEY: Well, just go back to the founding period again. The debates over the postal act and the printing subsidies were public debates, passionate. People were involved in it. They understood the importance and the significance. We have similar policies today that set up our current media system. All our largest media companies today — and they're very large — are built on government regulations, subsidies, monopoly rights, the spectrum, the cable systems, copyright. But the crucial policies that created these aren't done with public involvement. They're not out in the open with people debating it in Congress, newspapers and media covering it. They're all done behind closed doors in the most corrupt manner imaginable. These powerful lobbies duke it out, with no public recognition, to get these enormous monopoly subsidies.  The whole system is built in our name, but without our informed consent.  It's their system, but it should be ours.

BILL MOYERS: Even as we talk, the Federal Communications Commission is considering yet another move toward further consolidation. What's going on?

JOHN NICHOLS: Well, what they're talking about a series of rule changes. One of the changes they're talking about would remove a very old barrier in this country that says that you can't own T.V., radio, and the newspaper in the same town--can't be one guy that owns it all. And the reason for that is common sense, I think.
That, number one, you want a diversity of voices. And the diversity of voices is fostered by different owners, at best. Two, we have one owner of everything, and that's what would happen if you blow out this cross ownership rule. You have one owner of everything in town.

BILL MOYERS: Is it conceivable that if these rule changes are made by the FCC, that a Rupert Murdoch, or a Ted Turner, could own the newspaper, the T.V. station, the radio station, in Madison, Wisconsin?

JOHN NICHOLS: It's totally conceivable.

ROBERT MCCHESNEY: Not only conceivable...

JOHN NICHOLS: It would happen.

ROBERT MCCHESNEY: It's almost positive it would happen. Because that's where the money is. You can have one newsroom service an entire community, instead of having three newsrooms. Think of the savings if you've got one set of reporters serving all your news media in a town, instead of having to pay for three different sets.

BILL MOYERS: At what cost?

ROBERT MCCHESNEY: Well, the costs socially are enormous, which is exactly why we should be very concerned, because it violates every core liberal principle. When in doubt, it's always better to have more voices than fewer voices in media. That's the sort of — you start from there.

JOHN NICHOLS: And if you believe in a free market, if you really believe in a free market, you ought to believe that there should be a lot of different people competing within that, and maybe trying to be better than the other.

If you have one individual, or one company, really more likely a stockholder driven corporation, owning all of the media in a community, well, there's not a competition to be better per se. And because of the way media structures exist today, it's very hard to create new media there. So the result is that you are gonna go toward those commercial values. You're gonna go to  that lowest common denominator, because it's cheaper, and yeah, it appeals at some basic level.

BILL MOYERS: I think you say in your book that about a dozen companies own the greatest percentage...


BILL MOYERS: ...of radio, television...

ROBERT MCCHESNEY: An overwhelming majority.

BILL MOYERS:, everything.

ROBERT MCCHESNEY: That's right. And we're in a situation where we can actually look at an industry that was sort of deregulated just a few years ago, radio. In 1996, in the Telecommunications Act the radio lobby was able to get a clause put in there. It was never debated by Congress. Wasn't discussed at the community level, which lifted the cap of how  many radio stations a single company could own nationally in the United States. It used to be, before that it was 40. And for years, you probably remember coming up in media, was only seven, and then 12 stations, no more than two in a single community.

And they lifted the total nationally a single company could own. And they said you can own up to eight in a single community, in the largest communities. And what's happened since 1996 is radio's been turned upside down. Something like 60, 70 percent of the stations have been sold. *   A single company based in your home state of Texas, *Clear Channel, owns over 1,200 stations. And radio's--I think it’s fair to say, unless you're a shareholder in the Clear Channel company-- the consensus of everyone else in this country is radio's a disaster area. Localism's been wiped out. There's almost no local news coverage. We're getting sort of piped in announcers in the communities. There's more advertising than ever in radio. So this is an example of what we're gonna get if we do this in the rest of our media, that's our future.

BILL MOYERS: Obviously, Michael Powell, the chairman, is an ardent believer in deregulation [Betty’s note here: remember;  FCC Chairman Powell is the son of Colin Powell]. He says that if you take off government restrictions, you will let a thousand flowers bloom.You'll have the internet, you'll have DV— you'll have a lot of other choices out there.


JOHN NICHOLS: One of the big problems is that the debate on...

ROBERT MCCHESNEY: ...if that's right.

JOHN NICHOLS: Yeah. It's...

BILL MOYERS: You agreeing with Michael?

JOHN NICHOLS: Well, I think he's agreeing with Mao, who is the hundredth, at least. But the thing to understand about the debate on media in this country is it's perhaps the most unhealthy debate imaginable.  There are a handful of very interested parties who are deeply engaged, who think about it every day, who hire lobbyists, who spend a great deal of money, not nearly to lobby Congress, but also, to lobby the FCC.

BILL MOYERS: Who are they?

JOHN NICHOLS: The companies themselves, as well as The National Association of Broadcasters.

ROBERT MCCHESNEY: The trade associations.

JOHN NICHOLS: Trade associations. And they're in there fighting among themselves a little bit. "We want this structure. These guys want that structure. But it's all agreed that we're the ones at the table, we're the ones who will decide."

ROBERT MCCHESNEY: "It's our system."

BILL MOYERS: It is a closed meeting when they get together to discuss...


BILL MOYERS: ..."what do we want?"

JOHN NICHOLS: And there's a lot of closed meetings before, all along the way. And what we're suggesting is that the reason that the debate takes the shape it does is because so many other doors are shut. So much of it is inside dialogue.

Ordinary Americans, real people, my mom, your cousin, whoever, they don't even know that these debates are being — that they're taking place. And they also don't know, I think, that they have a right to be a part of them.

BILL MOYERS: When the Telecommunications Act in 1996 passed, which made this big giveaway, Bill Clinton signed it, Al Gore was there. Republicans, Democrats...


BILL MOYERS: ...all glowing at this accomplishment. I mean both parties, are they not...

ROBERT MCCHESNEY: They're both in bed with this.

BILL MOYERS: ...serving...

ROBERT MCCHESNEY: Absolutely. And I think...


ROBERT MCCHESNEY: This is the...

JOHN NICHOLS: There's some corruption.

ROBERT MCCHESNEY: This is the question...


JOHN NICHOLS: Corruption.

ROBERT MCCHESNEY: Pure corruption. This is really where big money crowds everything else out. The way to understand how policy makers make media in this country, communications, there's a great movie, THE GODFATHER, PART TWO.

There's a scene early in the movie where all the American gangsters are on top of a hotel roof in Havana. It's a classic scene. Hyman Roth and Michael Corleone. And they've got a cake being wheeled out to them.

And Hyman Roth is cutting up slices of the cake. And the cake's got the outline of Cuba on it, giving each gangster a slice of Cuba. And while he's doing this, Hyman Roth's saying, "Isn't it great to be in a country where we have a government that respects private enterprise, they let us own the country. And that's how media policy...

BILL MOYERS: So they divided up Cuba.


BILL MOYERS: You're saying the big media dividing up...


BILL MOYERS: ...the country of...


BILL MOYERS: ...of...of...

ROBERT MCCHESNEY: ...of the United States.

JOHN NICHOLS: Our air waves.

BILL MOYERS: ...for the world.

JOHN NICHOLS: Our air waves.

BILL MOYERS: Our air waves.

ROBERT MCCHESNEY: And what they're doing, though, is that they're fighting among each other. They've got these huge lobbies like Hyman Roth and Michael Corleone, they each want the biggest slice. But what they all agree is that no one else gets a slice. It's their cake. The door is shut, no press coverage, no public awareness of these policies.

BILL MOYERS: I think that's realistic but it's very pessimistic. What would you have done? Would you have the government take over the media?


ROBERT MCCHESNEY: Well, the government makes the media as it is. These policies are government policies. The question is whose interests are they gonna represent?  Private interests, commercial interests in our name, or actually our involvement? The argument is that people need to participate in these policies. We give 50 to 100 talks a year around the country. And we find people are really interested in this issue. This is an issue that cuts very close to them. Not just in terms of journalism, but sort of the commercial tidal wave that's overwhelming people's lives.

BILL MOYERS: What do you mean?

ROBERT MCCHESNEY: Well, we see advertising and commercialism not just increasing in sort of the number of advertisements you see on television and our media. But also, permeating the editorial content, both in journalism and programming.

BILL MOYERS: More and more commercials...


BILL MOYERS: ...more and more...

ROBERT MCCHESNEY: Product placement.

BILL MOYERS: ...commercial values, and share...

ROBERT MCCHESNEY: And I think that people are deeply concerned that this is corrosive to sort of the integrity of our public culture, that this is a real problem. It's not a left-right issue. It's — there's some people who personally benefit by — who made money off it, and there's everyone else. It's much like the environment.

JOHN NICHOLS: What we really need in this country is a movement not unlike the environmental movement of the early 1970s, that accepts the notion that, as with the environmental movement, it wasn't that the government took over every bit of land, and every sea, and every lake, and stuff like that, but it was that government regulation was seen as something that citizens ought to be a part of, not just the corporations that were regulated. And that begins to insert a public voice in this debate.

And the interesting thing is we find, in talking to members of Congress, that a lot of them are actually more interested in this than you think for an intriguing, very self serving,  perhaps, reason. Members of Congress are noted, saying that in this churn of media ownership, they don't get paid attention to at the local level, either.

ROBERT MCCHESNEY: More and more commercial values. And I think people are deeply concerned that this is corrosive to sort of the integrity of our public culture. That this is a real problem. And I...

BILL MOYERS: If there were this movement, what would it be asking? What would it want?

ROBERT MCCHESNEY: Well, there's a whole range of issues we can work on let's have fewer stations that one company's allowed to own, for example. It's silly to let one station own 1,200 stations. A tangible thing. Let's say ten stations per owner, so we get more community owners. Let's  come up with something to reduce the amount of commercials that we bombard our kids  with. What we're doing to children in this society is absolutely obscene.

Most other democratic societies in the world, most — many in Europe — prohibit, or sharply limit, the amount of advertising on television to children under 12. It's just irrational.

BILL MOYERS: In the interest of?

ROBERT MCCHESNEY: Of the children. That we can't... it's just, they take a two year old and marinate their brains in 30,000 T.V. ads a year, with the most sophisticated, psychological thinking done to go in to get them to brand imprint brands and their names is just an outrageous thing to do to children in society.

BILL MOYERS: But the media executives would say, "Look, that's for the parents to do."


BILL MOYERS: "That's not for the government to... "

JOHN NICHOLS: You know, they'd said that about cigarette advertising, too, at one point.  The fact of the matter is that in this country, we accept regulation of advertising. We accept there {sic] be a public role in this.

It's just that what we've been told up to this point is in some narrow little public health areas. Well, I would suggest that we ought to take a look at the public health of our democracy. Majority of Americans don't vote in most elections. We have every civic group — you go talk to the Rotary, you talk to the Lion's Club. They're all saying, "You know, there's just this decline in civic life. There's a decline in connectedness in this country."

And we know that the dominant part of most of our lives, as regards communication, is media. I think that we can suggest that media ought to have a role in making our civic life work better, and that that oughta be a part, not the whole of it. It can be entertaining. It can even make money for folks. But a part of it ought to be more civic.

BILL MOYERS: But you're flying in the face, are you not, of a business culture?

ROBERT MCCHESNEY: This is serious business. You're absolutely right. This isn't a—a tangential or marginal thing. We are going exactly at some of the crucial institutions in our society.  And I think we have to look around and look at the caliber of our democracy. It's deeply troubled. And it's not gonna take a band aid. And the founding fathers, not to keep harping on them, but I think their legacy here is very rich.  They understood that setting up a diverse, well funded media system with a broad range of viewpoints was the essence of building of the oxygen for democracy. And it took conscious  policies. It didn't happen naturally. You had to work at it. And we've gotta return to that principle and get public participation in the policies. There's nothing natural about our media system.

BILL MOYERS: These corporations will tell you that they earned their success and their power the old-fashioned way, the American way, by winning the robust competition of the marketplace.

ROBERT MCCHESNEY: Nonsense. They, the most important comp... look, they do compete. Don't get it wrong. And the people who make movies and T.V. shows are trying to get the most viewers. That's true. But the most important competition these companies have is behind closed doors in Washington, getting these valuable monopoly licenses. Once you're given a monopoly  license to T.V. spectrum in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Detroit and Washington, a trained orangutan could become a billionaire. It's no great genius then. But once you win that fight, the rest is a downhill slope. So I mean, yes it's true they do compete but at the same time, the most important issue is this whole system's set up by government policy. Those policies are made correctly.  Once you win the policy behind those closed doors, the rest of it's easy.

ROBERT MCCHESNEY: But no one else is allowed to play but the people who win those policy fights.

ROBERT MCCHESNEY: When you said that you can own eight radio stations in a single market, when you said that you can own as many radio stations nationally as you like, that decision allowed Clear Channel to win in the public marketplace. It didn't — there wasn't some sort of competition...

BILL MOYERS: You're saying these decisions that are discussed in economic terms...


BILL MOYERS: ...are really political decisions.


BILL MOYERS: Is that what you're saying?

JOHN NICHOLS: Absolutely.

ROBERT MCCHESNEY: That's absolutely right. With tremendous social implications.

JOHN NICHOLS: Made by — well, the decisions are made by the FCC or by Congress. I mean they're made the same way every political decision is. The problem is that, for instance, you referenced before the Telecommunications Act of 1996. Where was the robust national debate on really what is our media environment?

BILL MOYERS: There's a wonderful moment in that debate.


BILL MOYERS: I remember when John McCain...

JOHN NICHOLS: Of all people.

BILL MOYERS: ...spoke up and said, "You will not see this on television."


JOHN NICHOLS: And he was right! And the incredible thing was that, when we go around the country, you know, we did town meetings in places like Montpelier, Vermont and you know, the amazing thing is we did one about a year ago. The room was packed. You literally —there were people standing along the side to talk about media and democracy. What the heck is that? And yet, the interesting thing is that when we started talking about that debate,  people were amazed. This was a first blush for many of them. They were saying, "You know, in 1996, they made all this stuff." And they're like, "Oh, yeah,  I think I might a heard something about that."

Well, that's ridiculous. That would be, to do an equivalent, that would be saying, "You know, I think I might have heard something about the Clean Air Act," or, "I think I might a heard something about, you know, just..."


JOHN NICHOLS: "...Civil Rights Act."


JOHN NICHOLS: This is absurd. This is--the Telecommunications Act of 1996 was a fundamental, structural shift in the way we live our lives.


JOHN NICHOLS: And yet...


JOHN NICHOLS: Because we, the average American spends, is it 11 hours?


JOHN NICHOLS: Twelve hours in contact with some kind of media. When you radically reshape who controls that, how it works, how it's structured, that affects our lives.

BILL MOYERS: Are you saying that in the name of deregulation we're creating monopolies?

JOHN NICHOLS: Absolutely. We call it deregulation.


JOHN NICHOLS: It is not deregulation.

ROBERT MCCHESNEY: Yeah. It's regulation on the behalf of private interests, versus regulation...

JOHN NICHOLS: It's regulation...

ROBERT MCCHESNEY: ...on behalf of the public.

JOHN NICHOLS: It is regulation to pick winners. We are picking winners. Now the winner, the people who get picked are the ones who have great lobbyists, and a huge push in Washington, and they do all the right things. But we are picking winners. And I can tell you, we're also picking losers.


JOHN NICHOLS: The losers are our communities. The losers are — is our democracy. In fact,  when John McCain had a hearing on this just in... end of January.


JOHN NICHOLS: There was a wonderful gentleman from Syracuse, New York there, a small town radio station owner, talked about how he was forced out. You know, that he was just... that advertising pressure and all sorts of things were brought upon him that he had to sell out.

But he told this wonderful story of how, just a few years ago, he was on there, and he was beating Clear Channel. He was doing a great job. And he was doing local reporting, and all sorts of stuff, creating it right now, in this media era, and doing a great job. The only way, as he said, that he got beat, was that they finally just said, "Well, we own all the other  stations," and they made all these deals for advertisers, so that it finally became impossible for him to compete.

BILL MOYERS: What does it say to you that recently when the FCC, all the commissioners, came to New York to have a hearing on the rule changes here in the heart of the media universe, only one camera showed up and it was not from the corporate media?

ROBERT MCCHESNEY: It was quite striking. And I think it's always been one of the problems is that the news media that we depend on to cover important public policy issues is conflictive. There's an extraordinary conflict of interest, because our news media are owned by firms which benefit by certain types of policies. And they have no stake in engaging the public in these.

BILL MOYERS: Do you think your mother's watching right now? I didn't...

JOHN NICHOLS: Oh she will be if I tell her that... yeah.

ROBERT MCCHESNEY: She watches PBS all the time.

JOHN NICHOLS: She does. She's obsessive about it.

BILL MOYERS: Look at your mother in the camera and tell her if she really wants to join a movement and do something practical what can she do right now?

JOHN NICHOLS: It's a very simple thing. Write to your Congressman, mom. And write to your Senator. This is a really important reality of what happens in media as regards the structures and the rules and regulations, is driven by Congress. At this point we have a dawning  recognition among a lot of members of Congress that things are amiss.

My mother's U.S. Senator, Russ Feingold from Wisconsin, has introduced a quite good Bill as regards radio consolidation and some things that need to be done. I'd hope my mom and people, other people in Wisconsin would cheer him on. I'd hope other people around the country would cheer him on. I think that we are at a point where dialogue can begin to be had. And there have been some wonderful people in Washington. Good activists who have been working at this for years and have done — who've put the seeds there. They've laid a lot of the groundwork.

Now we need the American people to come riding to the rescue. No change in this country has ever come out of Washington. It always comes when ordinary folks say, as they did with the environmental movement, or the anti-war movement, you know we don't like where it's headed. And members of Congress need to hear that. And members of the FCC need to hear it when they go around for these hearings around the country. If they do, I think we have a chance. Not a certainty, but a chance to begin to kind of turn some of this around and we need to. It's what our country needs.

You can read the terrific Bill Moyers’ interview on PBS’ own website at WWW.PBS.ORG.

And in the meanwhile, ask yourself this, who benefits from our ignorance and confusion?

Also take time to go here-- everyone should know about corporate broadcast companies, and list of House Members Who Oppose LPFM, Co-Sponsors of H.R. 3439.


(To be continued:  Next—Who or what is this "CLEAR CHANNEL COMMUNICATIONS" and how/why does that concern me; or, Connecting the dots between our leaders, the media--radio, TV, the press--our war mentality, and large oil…)

Back to betty's Table of Contents

~ INDEX to the rest of "A Hillbilly Draws in the Dirt" ~

  • PART 1(1/25/02) --"Frogs in the Pot..."
  • PART 2 (2/02/02) --"The Man Who Would Be King"
  • PART 3 (4/24/02) --"Our Search for Global Order"
  • PART 4 (5/01/02) -- "May Day, May Day"
  • PART 5 (5/13/02) -- "Telling Truth by Her Flower"
  • PART 6 (6/03/02) -- "Going Back to the Garden"
  • PART 7 (8/06/02) -- "Heaven on Earth"
  • PART 8 (9/12/02) -- "The Real War Being Waged Against Us"
  • PART 9 (12/31/02) -- "New Year's Eve Memories of 2002"
  • PART 10 (01/12/03) -- "Live Now--Pay Later"
  • PART 11 (02/19/03) -- "Patriot Act 2 and Concentration Camps"
  • PART 12 (02/21/03) -- "Things Have Become All Too Clear..."
  • PART 13 (3/19/03) -- "Not Too Clear for Some..."
  • PART 14 (3/26/03) -- "My Mind is Clearer Now..."
  • PART 15 (4/1/03) -- "Clearly Green"
  • PART 16 (5/20/03) -- "A Constitutional IQ Test"

    Questions or comments?  Write us here!


    1. "Forever Barbie--the Unauthorized Biography of a Real Doll",  M.G. Lord, 1994, William Morrow and Company, New York, NY., pps.18-43.
    4.  1980, Lindsey Williams, "The Energy Non-Crisis". You might even try reading a copy of "Petroleum News, Alaska." available online.