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A Word About 9/11 and Media Bias

April 26, 2007

With so much controversy and hype surrounding 9/11 in the current climate it is difficult to keep a clear focus on the real issues pertaining to it. On the one hand it is an immensely positive thing that the American people are at last beginning to find their long lost voice; demonstrating the possible revival of healthy, patriotic dissent. This is a step in the right direction. However the 9/11 hysteria also serves as yet another massive distraction from more pressing current affairs. It has other unfortunate side effects such as hugely increasing fear and distrust of the US government, without which the US cannot function – no matter how many corrupt or morally bankrupt officials exist within it. This situation highlights a problem that has not changed significantly in many decades: the American people are being deliberately distracted, misled, provoked and selectively informed by an extremely powerful and often biased mass media to such an extent that the majority of the population perceives the world in a largely prescribed manner.

All of the major television networks and newspapers in the US are privately owned companies with an overriding mandate to serve the interests of their shareholders. Those interests generally boil down to making as large a profit as possible. Profits are primarily generated from advertising revenues based on how many viewers or readers a particular network or publication commands. The highest priority is maintaining and expanding this critical base of consumers. Although each news company caters more or less to specific groups within the populace they all must make continually greater efforts to appeal to the widest possible base within their target audience. This implies a skewing of any given company’s product towards those amongst their possible target audience who are least likely to engage with their product in order to draw them in. Furthermore there is a powerful obligation to the sponsors who advertise through a news company. The advertisers’ interests need to be looked after by the news company because the shareholders depend on the advertisers for their profits. The hierarchical pyramid structure of a company practically ensures that the interests of the shareholders and sponsors can be translated into orders and carried out by the executive body. This is one of the key ways that the news gets filtered.

The debate rages in the US as to whether the media is biased towards the left or the right. This is a fruitless exercise. The terms liberal and conservative are no longer much more than divisive labels that serve as further distraction from difficult truths. The success of the media in helping to sell products and policies is measured in profits and legislation, not in how many articles seem to condone abortion or gay rights. The Bush administration for example has achieved an unprecedented set of goals during its time in office and this could not have been achieved without the help of the media. The 2000 election was seized by the Bush administration with the direct assistance of several major news networks. This is documented.

Publicly traded companies are legally required to place the interests of their shareholders above all else. This is a very telling fact. The media is essentially a public service provided by privately owned companies. As with nearly all public services that have been taken over by privately owned companies a massive conflict of interest inevitably occurs, regardless of the collective intentions of the companies involved or their directors.

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