Saturday, February 13, 2010

A literal market place of ideas

From The Wrecking Crew by Thomas Frank

Like many winger ideas – anticommunism, for example – it sounds good at first. A “free market of ideas” sounds like “free inquiry,” or a "free exchange of ideas”; an environment in which hypothesis are tested and bad ones are weeded out while good ones go on to earn the respect of the community of scholars. But this is not what the phrase means at all. Markets do not determine the objective merit of things, only their price, which is to say, their merit in the eyes of capital or consumers. To cast intellectual life as a “market” is to set up a standard for measuring ideas quite different from the standard of truthfulness. Here ideas are bid up or down depending on how well they please those with the funds to underwrite inquiry – which effectively means, how well they please large corporations and the very wealthy.
From "The Lobbying-Media Complex" by Sebastian Jones in The Nation.

Since 2007 at least seventy-five registered lobbyists, public relations representatives and corporate officials--people paid by companies and trade groups to manage their public image and promote their financial and political interests--have appeared on MSNBC, Fox News, CNN, CNBC and Fox Business Network with no disclosure of the corporate interests that had paid them. Many have been regulars on more than one of the cable networks, turning in dozens--and in some cases hundreds--of appearances.

For lobbyists, PR firms and corporate officials, going on cable television is a chance to promote clients and their interests on the most widely cited source of news in the United States. These appearances also generate good will and access to major players inside the Democratic and Republican parties. For their part, the cable networks, eager to fill time and afraid of upsetting the political elite, have often looked the other way. At times, the networks have even disregarded their own written ethics guidelines. Just about everyone involved is heavily invested in maintaining the current system, with the exception of the viewer.


Mark Vuletic said...

Good reason either to Google every single person invited to speak on a news channel, or, better yet, to just shut off the TV whenever "commentary" or "analysis" comes up.

Hume's Ghost said...

Another reason not to watch is that almost every commentator and analyst is some kind of politician/political strategist.

Heck, even the Washington Post is well on its way to hiring W. Bush's entire speechwriting staff.

Hume's Ghost said...

I wonder if at the end of Obama's run MSNBC will hire all of his staff as "analysts".