I recently listened to an old Alex Jones – Noam Chomsky interview. I absolutely detest Alex Jones, who’s essentially the Rush Limbaugh of the tinfoil hat crowd. What I find reprehensible in his pseudo-journalism is the net effect of it, which is to discredit and marginalize legitimate points of concern in the political spectrum, for example corporate manipulation (well, ownership) of the media and manufacturing consent being perhaps the most vital.
The problem is AJ has a much bigger audience and visibility than intelligent, reasonable individuals (like Chomsky) who are working hard at exposing this stuff and educating people. So when you start talking about corporate and elite ownership of the media, the average person will likely have heard these concepts first from a wing-nut source like Alex Jones, and will likely glaze over. So while A.J. ended his interview with Prof Chomsky by calling Chomsky a corporate-elite schill, the truth is that A.J. does far more to further the corporate-elitist agenda. I’ll be discussing that at some other point, but I want to talk about a concrete example of this kind of corporate media control that’s taking place right now.
Maybe you’ve heard about the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood? These guys a a national coalition of health care professionals, educators, advocacy groups, parents and individuals whoare trying to “reclaim childhood from corporate marketers”. They managed to push Disney into offering refunds on their “Baby Einstein” videos, because (surprise!) watching a video doesn’t educate your kids, and in fact watching videos is probably harmful for young kids, no matter what’s being watched. This wouldn’t be a problem if Disney hadn’t claimed that these videos were “education”.
So Disney had to offer refunds, and the companies involved had to drop the word “educational” from their marketing. Good news all around. But mega corporations (and Disney’s among the worst) doesn’t like it when people try to execute some kind of democratic control or accountability. So Disney called up the Judge Baker Children’s Center (a Harvard affiliated children’s mental health center). Apparently Disney put pressure on Judge Baker, who in turn pressured the heroes in this story not to advocate against corporations, and not talk to the media. Wow. Now the JBCC is evicting the C.C.F.C., apparently because “the mission of the C.C.F.C — to protect children from harmful exploitation by corporate marketers — is not in line with the Judge Bake mission”.
Now Karen Schwartzman said Judge Baker received no money, and no promise of money from Disney, so one has to wonder what form of motivator Disney used? Hints of research grants (this wouldn’t be money to JB after all, but to the childrens center), or pressure through Harvard (does Disney donate or have joint research programs with Harvard)? Or perhaps it was just the threat of frivolous lawsuits. Disney is a particularly nasty beast, because, in addition to having the huge financial resources available to all major corporations, they have such an overwhelming hold on the American collective unconcious. I think it’s hard for the average American to think of Disney as evil, which no doubt has helped in Disney’s efforts to plunder and deny the public domain.
There’s a fairly good article at the NYT.