How is a protest on Wall Street not news?

I had slacked off reading some of the latest news, so I missed some of the events going on. I particularly missed that a major protest had been going on near Wall Street, and more particularly has received a lack of coverage by the news media. If anyone needs evidence of the perils of corporate-owned mass media that have the power to band together and censor the free flow of information when it is bad for corporate interests as a whole, this is it.

For those new to this whole thing, the following makes for good background reading (note that most of these will display in reverse chronological order, so you might want to page to the end and read up):

  1. The AdBusters site for Occupy Wall Street.
  3. Reader Supported News coverage.

The most important events so far are that Yahoo censored emails about the demonstrations, and that dozens of protesters have been arrested (at least 80 at last count).

This is the problem with trusting large for-profit corporations to give us our news: Disney, Comcast, GE, News Corporation, CBS Corporation, Time Warner, Clear Channel, Google, Yahoo, AOL, Hearst Corporation, Gannett Company, just to name a few. No one corporation of these wants their own media outlets reporting on what could be considered an embarrassment to their own interests. Am I against the idea of for-profit media in principle? No. But something is really broken when a protest like this can go on for a week with barely any coverage in the major media outlets.

Worst of all is the flagrant censorship by Yahoo, a company I had honestly held in high regard and considered above such actions. Shame on you, Yahoo. You have no business scanning your users’ private emails for mentions of Occupy Wall Street. This in addition to being censorship is an invasion of user privacy and a betrayal of trust.

And shame on every so-called “news media outlet” that has chosen to ignore this, who has put their own corporate self-interest above doing what they have been entrusted to do: report the news. Occupy Wall Street is news. To ignore these protests is to ignore news.

I should have jumped on this sooner, and I apologize for not being more timely with this post. But the protests are still ongoing and the cause that the protests are being held for is still relevant, so I figure it is still not too late to spread the word.

Simply distasteful: censorship by mutual agreement

Since it looks like I’m on an anti-censorship kick, for better or worse, I offer the following story.

Glenn Greenwald writing for Salon reports on what was originally a New York Times story detailing a highly suspicious agreement between the corporate leadership of both GE and News Corporation, the parent companies of MSNBC and Fox News respectively.

In essence, the chairman of General Electric (which owns MSNBC), Jeffrey Immelt, and the chairman of News Corporation (which owns Fox News), Rupert Murdoch, were brought into a room at a “summit meeting” for CEOs in May, where Charlie Rose tried to engineer an end to the “feud” between MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann and Fox’s Bill O’Reilly. According to the NYT, both CEOs agreed that the dispute was bad for the interests of the corporate parents, and thus agreed to order their news employees to cease attacking each other’s news organizations and employees.

Most notably, the deal wasn’t engineered because of a perception that it was hurting either Olbermann or O’Reilly’s show, or even that it was hurting MSNBC. To the contrary, as Olbermann himself has acknowledged, his battles with O’Reilly have substantially boosted his ratings. The agreement of the corporate CEOs to cease criticizing each other was motivated by the belief that such criticism was hurting the unrelated corporate interests of GE and News Corp:

Note that it is not about ratings. The two companies are engaging in censorious collusion, gagging their respective personalities based purely on corporate interests.

This is corporate sleaziness at its worst. We know damn well MSNBC and other GE-owned networks will be hesitant to report negatively against its corporate parent, and the same for Fox News reporting negatively against its corporate parent.

Most nauseating, would be this quote from Charlie Rose in 2003. The context of this quote is Rose interviewing Amy Goodman, the well-known host of the independent news program Democracy Now! which airs nationwide on Pacifica, a non-profit radio network, and as a TV show on several local cable networks. Rose is responding to Goodman’s explanation of independent news:

ROSE: My point in response to that would be that we do need you… Having said that, I promise you, CBS News and ABC News and NBC News are not influenced by the corporations that may own those companies. Since I know one of them very well and worked for one of them.

Shame on you, Charlie Rose. My outrage at your hypocrisy is only equalled by my disgust at the fact you make absolutely no attempt to hide it.

Glenn Greenwald goes into further detail about GE’s control of NBC and MSNBC. Most of it is more of the same but one highlight of this second article is a quote from Gary Sheffer:

“We all recognize that a certain level of civility needed to be introduced into the public discussion,” Gary Sheffer, a spokesman for G.E., said this week. “We’re happy that has happened.”

Civility? There’s nothing civil about censorship for greed, censorship to keep the stockholders happy. At the end of the day, news organizations exist to report news to the people, not to make money for the shareholders of their corporate parents.

For the benefit of some new readers of the blog I may have picked up in the last couple of weeks: censorship is one of my pet peeves, and the archives speak for themselves. If you have not already, please take a look.