Are US Corporate-Media Businesses ‘Independent’?


Professor Noam Chomsky is one of the most cited scholars in history.  His work continues to be prominently taught in classes at top US universities like Yale.  He teaches classes on US government at MIT, and has written some 100 books on political and social science topics.  He has been voted in multiple polls as the world’s most important public intellectual.

So why do Western corporate and government media outlets like the New York Times (whose board members have often also been on the boards of weapons manufacturers) almost entirely avoid quoting or citing him?

Perhaps because they do not want to call much attention to his work, which includes meticulously documenting and exposing that what outlets like the Times produce is largely fake news – a new buzz-word for propaganda.

The New York Times, Chomsky has noted, is a particularly odious offender.  He refers to the output of that publication, which claims to offer “all the news that’s fit to print”, as “pure propaganda”, and documents how and why this is the case.

Chomsky has published many articles and books that detail the US propaganda system, but here is a concise, 8-minute summary of how it works:

Thus, media outlets that Western elites refer to as “independent” really are not independent.  They are major corporations with inherent conflicts of interest that both determine their output and allow them to peddle it widely.

The most-watched news channel in the US, for example, NBC, has been owned by one of the world’s biggest nuclear weapons manufacturers, and does not like to publicize this or its many other conflicts of interest, even though they might be of some interest to viewers.

But one might argue that we could still call corporate media businesses independent since at first glance they appear to at least be independent of government.  We would have to admit this would be a sneaky move because it would still attempt to downplay the corporate conflicts of interest, but let’s see if it is even accurate to say corporate media are independent of government.

The owners of these corporations are some of the wealthiest people in the US (and world), and as major studies out of US Ivy League universities have amply documented, US government policy is determined not by the US population, but by people in the top tiers of the income scale.  (Chomsky points out the US is “not a democracy, and was not intended to be.”)  So to claim that major corporations are independent of government is also misleading, since major corporations, to a very large extent, are the US government.

Not only do their owners exert major influence over government policy, but people from the highest points in the media corporations also continually cycle between the corporations and influential positions within the government.

Further, as has been amply documented by many journalists including Carl Bernstein, this corporate government clandestinely collaborates with top media corporations to further regulate their output.  Bernstein quotes William B. Bader, a former CIA intelligence officer, who divulges that “[y]ou don’t need to manipulate Time magazine, for example, because there are Agency people at the management level.”

Thus, it seems a bit of a stretch to call the major US media corporations “independent” in any sense of the word.

We can also ask whether Western elites are really opposed, in principal, to media outlets being directly financed by governments, or if they are simply opposed to government-financed media outlets that disprove claims published in Western media (such as, for example, “the US is a democracy”).

US officials and elites regularly condemn and spurn government-financed media outlets like RT (Russia Today).  But at the same time, they are perfectly content to promote media outlets funded by the US and other western governments (let alone the corporate “independent” media discussed above), and take no issue with outlets funded by favored non-Western governments, like the Saudi dictatorship, lead by strongman Salman bin Abdulaziz, who enjoys beheading civilians and then crucifying them with their heads in plastic bags stapled to their bodies.

So it also seems dubious to claim that Western elites are opposed in principal to government-funded media outlets.

It seems what they really have a problem with is people getting all sides of the story.  Indeed, when we read news stories from Western outlets and then read coverage of the same events from non-Western outlets (see here), it is readily apparent that the only way to figure out what really happened is to get all sides directly from all sides, not all sides filtered through one side – the West.

This also seems to be why, in court, both a prosecution and a defense present their sides to the jury: so the jury can make up its mind about what really happened.  If the jury only heard the prosecution’s side, it would likely get a somewhat distorted view that favored, intentionally or not, the prosecution.  Same for defense.

But Western elites are currently suggesting that we should only listen to the prosecution – media from the propaganda system discussed above, with all of its conflicts of interest, propaganda, control and censorship, and blatant fake news production.

Rationally speaking, it would seem to make more sense, and be more fair, to try to get all sides – the idea behind the jury-trial system.  And it seems a particularly lame, crude, and desperate move for one of the sides, in this case the West, to entreat the public to only listen to its side of events.

True, many governments, including the US, continually do this.  But most of them are weak and under serious attack by internal or external forces (often US or US-financed).  That the US, even as the most powerful empire in the history of the world, continues to engage in this practice seems to reveal a level of personal insecurity, fear, or cowardice in the US elite character, something that may be traced to the origins of the brutal oligarchic state in settler-colonial genocide and mass enslavement.

Robert J. Barsocchini is an independent researcher and reporter who focuses on global force dynamics and has served as a cross-cultural intermediary for the film and Television industry. His work has been cited, published, or followed by numerous professors, economists, lawyers, military and intelligence veterans, and journalists. Updates on Twitter.


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