We are aware of President Donald Trump’s, um…shall we say disdain for the media.
Branding reputable news outlets as “fake” is more serious than just juvenile name-calling, though.
It’s indicative of a bureaucracy openly hostile to the “fourth estate” charged with providing Americans information free of government and corporate influence.
But what happens when oligarchy consumes our media?
Since the federal government stopped enforcing the Fairness Doctrine in 1987, we have witnessed the steady corporate takeover of that fourth estate, leaving a for-profit media infrastructure to supplant its more egalitarian predecessor.
Fox News is a perfect example.
Rupert Murdoch’s entrenched media connections and deep pockets made former political strategist for presidents Richard Nixon and George H.W. Bush, Roger Ailes’, vision for “GOP TV” come to fruition.
On Sunday, we witnessed another millionaire-media merger.
In addition to Time, the Kochs will now have a direct stake in People, Fortune, and Sports Illustrated.
In a statement announcing the deal, Meredith Corp. affirmed it was building “a premier media company serving nearly 200 million American consumers.”
Why does this matter?
Why should we care?
Well, those familiar with the Kochs are aware they are benefactors for libertarian and conservative causes, especially climate change denial.
Independent Vermont senator and 2016 presidential candidate Bernie Sanders sums them up best:
“For the Koch brothers, $80 billion in wealth, apparently, is not good enough. Owning the second largest private company in America is, apparently, not good enough. It doesn’t appear that they will be satisfied until they are able to control the entire political process… It is well known that the Koch brothers have provided the major source of funding to the Tea Party and want to repeal the Affordable Care Act…The agenda of the Koch brothers is to repeal every major piece of legislation that has been signed into law over the past 80 years that has protected the middle class, the elderly, the children, the sick, and the most vulnerable in this country…It is clear that the Koch brothers and other right wing billionaires are calling the shots and are pulling the strings of the Republican Party.”
And influencing our media is an insidious, and, perhaps foolproof, way of motivating average Americans to vote against their own interests.
“It’s a very proper business decision – a cheap way to wield even more political influence. The return on investment on their political work is off the charts, I fear.”
Jay Rosen, journalism professor at New York University, said:
“Time magazine doesn’t move the needle on anything any more. It just doesn’t make a lot of sense to me. Unless they want to influence the Fortune 500 rankings or something.”
The Kochs have dumped hundreds of millions on not-for-profit organizations, universities, advocacy groups, and political campaigns.
In Time, they will now have an additional asset.
Former Time science editor, Charles Alexander, is concerned.
On Wednesday, he wrote in The Nation:
“For decades, the Kochs’ ‘dark money’, as the New Yorker’s Jane Mayer called it, has financed a campaign of disinformation designed to convince the public and politicians that climate change is nothing to worry about.”
Time used to devote cover stories and special issues to climate change before other media outlets followed suit.
Under the Kochs, it may refuse to cover it at all.
Charles Alexander added:
“I confess I don’t know what the solution is, but it is perverse and dangerous for two billionaires with no commitment to factual truth to be permitted to buy a magazine that has been a voice for reason and use it to further their narrow business interests.”
But Time is not the first casualty of right-wing influence.
Of course there’s Fox, but Fox has been hemorrhaging viewers the past couple years.
Most younger audiences are looking to alternative internet sources (like this one) for their news, shaking the strength of the trance the right-wing media cornerstone has previously enjoyed.
Circa is one of more than 170 media outlets Sinclair Media Broadcast Group owns or operates. As its reach expands, it is threatening to become a formidable challenger to Fox. Sinclair is fast gaining the nickname of “Trump TV.”
Could we have lost Time as well?
Image credit: Toronto Star