Posted by: vernacularsnoop | August 28, 2008

How the corporate media covers politics

AT&T logo on Democratic National Convention merchandise

AT&T logo on Democratic National Convention merchandise

During the Democratic National Convention there was an extremely interesting segment on Democracy Now! called – take a deep breath – “AT&T throws party to support Dems who voted to grant telecoms immunity for illegal domestic wiretapping.” Amy Goodman of Democracy Now! and a few others from the independent media decided to crash the AT&T party to ask attendees why the giant telecom corporation was throwing a private party for Democratic legislators just weeks after the Democratic congress passed the FISA bill with retroactive immunity for the telecom industry. The few journalists who wanted to cover the event couldn’t get past the bouncers, so we may never know how AT&T thanked its friends in the Democratic party for the early Christmas gift of retroactive immunity.

Retroactive immunity – a phrase that conjures images of Richard Nixon – is not only a way for the telecom corporations to dodge legal accountability for violating our 4th amendment right to be free of unreasonable search and seizure. It will also put an end to the class-action lawsuits that, in the face of Speaker Pelosi’s see-no-evil attitude towards the Bush administration’s crimes against the constitution, may have been the last way to discover some of the truth about what Cheney, Bush, Rove and the other neocons were really doing in the deep, dark heart of the Bush white house. By the way, the house and senate – both controlled by Democrats – passed the bill 293 to 129 and 69 to 28, respectively.

Issues regarding the telecom industry are usually buried by the corporate media. The reason that the FISA controversy got so much airtime was that Senator Obama, after claiming that he would filibuster the FISA bill if it included telecom immunity, changed his mind and decided to vote for it after all. In other words, it’s the usual story about a Democratic candidate talking a lot of bull to placate the base, then turning around and voting to please giant corporate donors once the nomination is locked up. The AT&T party in Denver is a symptom of the disease of pay-to-play politics, which is steadily turning both the Republican and Democratic parties into corporate sock puppets.

One of the most interesting moments of the Democracy Now! story was when Amy Goodman encountered Salon.com blogger and constitutional law attorney Glenn Greenwald, who also had no luck getting into the AT&T party. When Greenwald started describing his experience with the mainstream corporate media, he summarized some of the feelings I’ve had about CNN, Time and other corporate media outlets but couldn’t put my finger on:

GLENN GREENWALD: Well, what’s interesting is, we had a party at Salon.com, and there were a lot of members of the media, the sort of mainstream media, who were there, and what was interesting to me, interacting with them—I don’t normally do that, thankfully, but I did that that night—is they sort of look at politics from the most cynical and the shallowest perspective, which is, they do what they do on television, which is, they talk about whether certain things are politically beneficial, how it will play in the eyes of the mythical American that they convince themselves they speak for, and it’s completely bereft of any substance. They’re just pageants, and that’s how they cover them.

Insightful stuff. The full Democracy Now! story is here:

AT&T throws party to support Dems who voted to grant telecoms immunity for illegal domestic wiretapping

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