On the Edge with Max Kaiser: Danny Schechter on the information war


PressTVGlobalNews | December 25, 2010

In this edition of the show Max talks with the director of Plunder: The Crime of Our Time and investigative journalist, Danny Schechter. Danny Schechter says the economic situation in the US is much worse than most people think. He says everything including the media is controlled by the big banks and companies. He believes that there is an information war going on and if they succeed in destroying WikiLeaks the next target is the internet itself. Enjoy the show.

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Danny Schechter on the financial crisis and Wall Street as a crime narrative


TheRealNews | July 24, 2010

Danny Schechter, “The News Dissector,” is a former network TV producer, radio newscaster, and edits MediaChannel.org. He has written nine books on media themes. His latest, ‘Plunder’, was inspired by his latest film, In Debt We Trust: America Before The Bubble Bursts

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“Plunder: The Crime Of Our Time” – Danny Schechter Takes on Wall St. in New Film


Democracy Now!
April 28, 2010

“Plunder: The Crime Of Our Time” – Danny Schechter Takes on Wall St. in New Film

We speak with investigative journalist, filmmaker, and author Danny Schechter, ‘the News Dissector.’ His latest film features interviews with industry insiders to reveal how the financial crisis was built on a foundation of criminal activity. It’s called “Plunder: The Crime Of Our Time.” [Includes rush transcript]

via “Plunder: The Crime Of Our Time” – Danny Schechter Takes on Wall St. in New Film

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Danny Schechter: Plunder, a Wall Street story




Danny Schechter: Financial meltdown is a crime story

Danny Schechter, “The News Dissector,” is a former network TV producer, radio newscaster, and edits MediaChannel.org. He has written nine books on media themes. His latest, ‘Plunder’, was inspired by his latest film, In Debt We Trust: America Before The Bubble Bursts


Wall Street’s Power Grab by Michael Hudson

Kucinich Subcommittee Findings Triggered Expanded Enforcement

Financial crisis inquiry begins + Causes of the 2008 Financial Collapse

from the archives:

In Debt We Trust (Full video; must-see)

Keiser Report: Markets, Finance, Scandal and Suicide Bankers

Dandelion Salad

November 19, 2009

In our new program – “Keiser report”, hosted by the renowned financial analyst and former stockbroker Max Keiser – the most provocative questions in US politics are tackled head-on.

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The Edge of the Abyss by Danny Schechter

Dandelion Salad

by Danny Schechter
Global Research, October 9, 2008

The Edge of the Abyss: As Economic War Threatens It’s Time to Fight Back. Let’s Start With National Teach-ins

The other day as I was out promoting my book Plunder with a talk at a New York bookstore on the day the market dropped precipitously. It was a day that I led my blog with a quote from financial analyst fearing we are on the edge of the abyss.

I was introduced by Steve Fraser, a scholar, who wrote a major study on Wall Street and the American dream. As we chatted, I asked if he had expected the intensity of the crisis we are now experiencing.

“Yes,” he said, “I always knew this was possible, even likely but I am in a state of shock by the severity and seriousness of the crash. Honestly, I thought they would avoid it.”

We all want to believe everything will turn out ok. We all tend to believe that the folks in charge at Wall Street are too smart to let their own world go down, along with ours, and that they somehow will fix it because it is in their interest to do so. Most of us don’t have much of a sense of how systems and institutions and economic laws and cycles operate.

We expect rationality in a marketplace driven by panicky irrationality.

A night earlier, on CNN, a poll reported that 6 out of ten Americans expect things will get worse and turn into a depression. I am not sure most know what a depression means but that expectation shows diminishing confidence in the public at large. Of course, CNN’s financial analyst, an editor of Fortune was soon waxing more optimistically about the need to solve the problem, not go after wrong doers.

Financial writer Mike Whitney disagrees:

“The United States is headed into another Great Depression and has probably dragged the rest of the world along with it. The global financial system will look very different by the time we reach the other end of the tunnel.”

Somehow the lessons of history were forgotten as we watched a Congressional committee grill a banker about the greed that led to his downfall. As I stared at the screen, watching his shifty, uncomfortable dazed look, and at the feigned condemnations by our elected representatives who hadn’t been paying attention when they should have, I realized that we were watching a rerun without knowing it.

I thought of the great Harvard-based economist John Kenneth Galbraith who I knew in his last years and had wanted to make a film about. He had written about this moment before we started living it, only it was in 1929, as London’s Telegraph reminded us by quoting his words.

“As the ghosts of numerous tyrants, from Julius Caesar to Benito Mussolini will testify, people are very hard on those who, having had power, lose it or are destroyed. Then anger at past arrogance is joined with contempt for present weakness.

“The victim or his corpse is made to suffer all available indignities. Such was the fate of the bankers. They were fair game for Congressional committees, courts, the press and comedians.”

These are the observations of economist J K Galbraith in The Great Crash, 1929. First published in 1954, his analysis of the greed and self-delusion that led to the unraveling of America’s stock market and the subsequent Depression is undimmed by time.”

Now it’s our turn, in our time, to watch as ‘undimmed’ as possible.

He added: “Cause and effect run from the economy to the stock market, never the reverse. In 1929, the economy was headed for trouble,” wrote Galbraith.

As now, too few understood this. Many who foresaw disaster kept quiet. There was a conspiracy of silence. “The foolish thus [had] the field to themselves.”

Look at our “real economy.” Inequality has deepened over decades. Wages have not risen. Unemployment is growing. A social safety net has been largely shredded. Free market ideologues have dominated the discourse.

As the economy seems to be collapsing with central banks pumping in still more billions, as the markets gyrates, as investors in Hong Kong rally outside a bank demanding their government act because Americans had defrauded them, there is an overall sense of fatalism, if not futility. Anger is building. We can see a conspiracy of silence about the causes, maybe even about the conspiracy, or at least, the cabal behind the calamity.

There will be some kind of a rebound. No one knows when or how much damage will done before it occurs. There still seems to denial in many quarters as if this is something happening to others. The Presidential candidates were perfunctory about it, acknowledging the problem but then reverting to message points and symbolic superficial steps. The media records the crisis but offers little by way of proposals.

We seem to be confronting a trifecta of failure: a financial failure, a political failure and a media failure all reinforcing each other. It’s the perfect storm.

What to do as an economic war against most Americans is unleashed? We need to fight back. We need an economic justice movement because the Democratic Party is vacillating. One way to start might be the way the movement against the Vietnam War started—with a national teach-in movement on campuses and communities to educate the change-oriented community to put this issue and some real solutions on the agenda.

Who will fund it? Who will join me? If not now, when?

News Dissector Danny Schechter’s latest book is Plunder: Investigating Our Economic Calamity (Cosimo Books—at online book stores) and the director of the film In Debt We Trust (indebt wetrust.com) Comments to dissector@mediachannel.org

© Copyright Danny Schechter, Global Research, 2008

The url address of this article is: www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=10496


How to Save the U.S. Economy by Richard C. Cook

The Biggest Bank Heist in History (Interview with Richard C. Cook)

Renewed Interest: Analyst Ties Monetary Reform To Social Credit Movement (2007; Richard C. Cook)

“To the Bunkers!”: Central banks slash rates in emergency “midnight” meeting By Mike Whitney

Does the Bailout Bill Mark the End of America as We Know It? by Richard C. Cook

Perpetual Growth Is Impossible – The Coming End of Usury as the Dominant Social Paradigm

The Fed Now Owns The World’s Largest Insurance Company – But Who Owns The Fed? by Dr. Ellen Brown

The Economy Sucks and or Collapse

The Question that should be at the Heart of the Bailout Debate: Will The Paulson Plan Work Or Potentially Make Things Worse?

Dandelion Salad

by Danny Schechter
Global Research, October 3, 2008

Most of the people who oppose the bailout do so for ideological reasons. Conservative Republicans fear the advance of socialism in the form of government intervention. They picture themselves as saving the Republic from collectivist marauders out to destroy the free market. And that includes Henry Paulson the former head of Goldman Sachs who came to government from Wall Street and still embodies its values.

Democrats are divided too. Some say they’re voting for the bill while holding their noses. Others say they have to “do something” or else, and have no alternative plan. Still others see it as rewarding the people who created the crisis.

What the media often misses are the people who argue that the measure is unlikely to restore confidence or get credit flowing again.  These people are actually pragmatists and work in the financial industry. In large part because politics is polarized along partisan lines, their non-partisan assessments are not taken seriously.

Others don’t really analyze what’s in the bill and present it in symbolic terms as a needed solution without noting that in just a week it went from just three pages to over 451.

Actually, since everyone agrees that the crisis is unlikely to go away anytime soon, we have to look at more than one bill.

As for the insiders, there’s David Tice, a respected Denver investment advisor who told Investment News: “We don’t believe these bailout packages will fix the Wall Street credit mechanism,” he said. “Credit will be restrictive no matter what happens with the bailout package.”

Tice is projecting pain, doom and gloom for the next five years. The business outlet reported, “Mr. Tice provided a litany of reasons why he believes the U.S. economy is headed toward recession, if not a full-blown depression.”

The bill the Treasury Department insisted had to be simple and “clean” and could not allow the adding of provisions for bankruptcy reform ended up getting vast tax breaks tacked on as Bloomberg reported, “The U.S. Senate approved tax cuts valued at more than $100 billion, including a host of alternative energy credits and dozens of breaks for businesses and individuals, as part of its $700 billion bank rescue bill.”

Websites like Naked Capitalism were filled with contributions by economists and traders pointing to technical flaws in the plan that will undermine its effectiveness.

Example: “I think it’s very telling that in two days of hearings and two weeks of discussion we have yet to see *any* detailed mechanism for how Paulson’s plan will increase the supply of, say, inventory loans. It’s not that every economist in the world is an idiot, it’s just not going to help. I think people have fallen into the fallacy that if it costs a lot it must be valuable. Paulson’s plan falls into the category of very expensive way to hurt ourselves. (As for its cost, A treasury official was pressed on why they sought $700 billion: “where did that number come from, a study or data point?” No, he replied, we just wanted it to be big!”)


As for the bill itself, listen to Ralph Nader’s dissection, even if you think he’s a hasbeen.

“The revised bailout legislation is the same $700 billion piece of burnt toast, with some window dressing, sugar coating, and $150 billion of pork tax cuts covering everything from casinos to coal.

But this isn’t even the main course that Senate is serving up for Congress on Friday. The main course is on page 92 of the 451 page document:

BORROWING LIMITS TEMPORARILY LIFTED. – During the period beginning on the date of enactment of this Act and ending on December 31, 2009, the Board of Directors of the Corporation may request from the Secretary, and the Secretary shall approve, a loan or loans in an amount or amounts necessary to carry out this subsection, without regard to the limitations on such borrowing under section 14(a) and 15(c) of the Federal Deposit Insurance Act (12 U.S.C. 1824(a), 1825(c)).

Translation: Bush, McCain, and Obama want Congress to co-sign off on the mother of all blank checks, paving the way for a sinking dollar and higher interest rates.”

So before you turn the bailout into an argument between the sensible and responsible versus the emotional and angry, look at the details, consider the costs and ask why you are persuaded it will have the effect its proponents claim. TED spread is at a new record. Bad news

On Friday morning, the economist Paul Krugman sounded like a desperado:

“Double plus ungood news on multiple fronts this morning. The credit crunch is getting worse: LIBOR jumped again, the on employment: payrolls down 159,000, average work week down, official unemployment rate flat at 6.1 percent but broad measure (U6) up from 10.7 to 11.

We are going over the edge.”

China’s Premier Wen Jiabao told China Daily on Friday, “I’m very concerned.” He didn’t seem to buy into all the fear mongering, asking: “What is the actual degree of the problem? How will develop? What will be the effect on the US and the world.”  His advice: “Pluck up one’s courage and be confident as these are more important than gold or currency.

Ok, I am “plucked,” even as they plunder on, but we still don’t know with any certainty if the ever expanding bailout will straighten a system out of wack, create jobs, restore capitalism and make it all OK again?  Remember the NY Times first described the bailout as a “hail Mary play” in which you throw the football and pray. Has it come to that?

What if all of this “debate” is just more sound and fury, signifying less than meets the eye? Markets are still deeply “stressed” and its unlikely that the solution our Congress is backing will solve anything.

Danny Schechter is the author of PLUNDER: Investigating Our Economic Calamity (Cosimo—Newsdissector.com/Plunder) and the director of IN DEBT WE TRUST the film that warned of the crisis. (indebtwetrust.com)
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© Copyright Danny Schechter, Global Research, 2008

The url address of this article is: www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=10428


Dennis Kucinich: Why! Why! Why! + Paul: You’re Going To Guarantee A Depression!!!

Betrayed by the Bailout: The Death of Democracy by William Cox

Goldman Sachs Bribed Senate To Pass Bailout Bill

Will the Crisis Brings Down the Global Financial System? Go Get Your Dollars Out Now! FAST!!!

Bailout Bedlam: Robbing the Taxpayers to Save the Banks by Dr. Ellen Brown

US congressman: If we don’t pass this bill, we’re going to have martial law in the United States

Does the Bailout Bill Mark the End of America as We Know It? by Richard C. Cook

The Economy Sucks and or Collapse

Ralph Nader Posts & Videos

House of Cards By Danny Schechter

Dandelion Salad

By Danny Schechter
28/06/08 “LA CityBeat

You thought the housing crisis was bad? You ain’t seen nothing yet.

The Mess

Nationwide, two million homes sit vacant. Home sales are at a nine-year low. Former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers says that housing finance has not been this bad since the Depression. We still don’t know the full extent of the colossal subprime rip-off, but a recent Bank of America study did some guesstimating on the scale of the consequences of the “credit crisis.” The meltdown in the U.S. subprime real estate market, the bank said, had led to a global loss of $7.7 trillion dollars in stock market value since October.

While many eyes are focusing on the housing meltdown and its hugely negative effect on an economy clearly moving into recession, few are paying attention to the next bubble expected to burst: credit cards. Combined with the subprime losses, such a credit card nightmare has the potential, experts say, of bringing down the entire financial system and global economy. You and your credit card have become key players in the highly unstable financial crunch. Mortgage lender cupidity and bank credit card greed wedded to financial institution deregulation supported by both political parties, have been made manifestly worse by Bush administration support-the-rich policies. It has brought us to a brink not seen since just before the Great Depression.

While campaigning in Edinburg, Texas, in February, Barack Obama met with students at the University of Texas-Pan American. “Just be careful about those credit cards, all right? Don’t eat out as much,” he said. After the foreclosure crisis, he warned, “the credit cards are next in line.”


FAIR USE NOTICE: This blog may contain copyrighted material. Such material is made available for educational purposes, to advance understanding of human rights, democracy, scientific, moral, ethical, and social justice issues, etc. This constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Title 17 U.S.C. section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use’, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

Behind the Rise in Prices: The Plan to Torpedo the Dollar

Dandelion Salad

by Danny Schechter
May 19, 2008

Who do you think was one of the Bush Administration’s key players on the economy?

If you say Paulson or Bernanke, you might be half right. But there’s another no-name lurking around in the background who tends to be doing the wrong thing at every key moment in the covert history of the Bush (or should we day “Bush League”) Republic.

His name is Jim Wilkinson. He helped organize the GOP “protest”/obstruction of the Miami election recount in 2000. He was the White House’s key media spinner at the Doha Coalition Media Center in 2003. A reporter from Texas said he used techniques first perfected by Stalin. He was an architect of the Republican convention in New York in 2004. He was later dispatched to keep an eye on, and act as “dissembler-in-chief” for Condi Rice.

But at a crucial moment in the history of the Western world, Mr. “I work in the shadows” Wilkinson became chief of staff to Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson, the Goldman Sachs embed in the Cabinet.

Operative Wilkinson was then given the assignment of monitoring the world’s financial markets in a secret operation modeled no doubt on the great intelligence plan that produced the Iraq War.

His qualifications for this historic role?

See above.

As Mike Whitney reported for Information Clearing House at the end of October in 2006 — a day before Halloween — the US was then engineering the drop in the dollar to “improve competitiveness” — i.e. subsidize US exports in a flawed attempt to reduce the growing balance of trade gap. Was it a trick or treat? Read on.

The result was summed up in his headline: “The U.S. Dollar is kaput. Confidence in the currency is eroding by the day.”

Whitney saw then what our media has still yet to report or understand.


FAIR USE NOTICE: This blog may contain copyrighted material. Such material is made available for educational purposes, to advance understanding of human rights, democracy, scientific, moral, ethical, and social justice issues, etc. This constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Title 17 U.S.C. section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use’, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.


The Dollar’s Full-System Meltdown By Mike Whitney (econ)



News Dissector Danny Schechter Takes on C-NBC (video)

Dandelion Salad


“News Dissector” Danny Schechter speaks to a C-NBC reporter outside the NACA protest at Bear Stearns, in a never-to-be-broadcast interview.

Vodpod videos no longer available. from www.youtube.com posted with vodpod


h/t: News From Underground

As Big Banks Fall: The Bear Has Fallen & the Bull is Gone + In Debt We Trust Trailer

Dandelion Salad

by Danny Schechter
The Smirking Chimp
March 18, 2008

Why the Financial Crisis Is Not Just About Finances

New York: If you walk through London’s High Gate cemetery and wander over to the grave of the late Karl Marx and then listen closely with your ear to the ground, you might hear a repetitive murmur of the phrase “I told you so” in a distinctly German inflected accent.

You might also see the earth moving ever so slightly as what’s left of the bones below turn over in the realization that capitalists, not the proletariat, are the ones bringing down the system.

Fellow blogger Ian Williams, a former disciple of the bearded prophet, is now chanting, “Shareholders of the world unite” in recognition of the way the world is changing. The fall of Bear Sterns and the collapse of confidence in our financial system is a profound turning point.

When you turn this rock over — and not just England’s Northern Rock bank that failed earlier — you see a seamy swamp of delusion, and deception, with `Wall Street worms slithering off to their condos in Colorado or their hangouts in the Hamptons.

This could be the end of an era of legalized greed, aided and enabled by the deregulation policies of the Busheviks with the active complicity of so many bi-partisan worshipers at the temple of the Free Market. Alas, it is not just Republicans who were implicated or who rely on funding from Hedge Fund and FIREcrats: the Finance, Insurance and Real Estate industries.

If you were a fellow banker on The Street this past Sunday, you realized that your master of the universe days may be over. “Layoff Fear in Stox Shocks” was the headline in the New York Post. Prosperity has been displaced by panic.

8000 jobs had been lost before “the Bear,” the nation’s number #5 broker, was sold at a ridiculous discount, bought with $30 billion pumped through JP Morgan who picked up what was left of the firm at $2 a share. (It had been trading a day earlier at $170).

Many more and other dominoes are expected to fall.

Some experts believe that JP Morgan overpaid because the shares they bought actually had no value. The money was used to monetize junk sub-prime holdings not yet written off — so much for the doctrine of moral hazard” that holds speculators should not be rewarded. In fact, there is evidence not only of unethical practices but Enronesque illegal ones.

A week earlier, Bear Stern’s former CEO bought a Manhattan condo for $28 million, no mortgage needed. In December, compromised Wall Streeters walked off with $31 billion in bonuses, just a billion below the record set a year earlier.

The resumes are flying now with fears of mass layoffs spreading. The people who will be hurt initially are the lower paid back office workers.

The pain will not remain there.

How you understand these fast moving developments depends on where you sit in our highly stratified culture and how much you know about why a Wall Street crash can ripple into all of our lives.

If your name is Hank Paulson or Ben Bernanke, you have been huddling in alarm with the White House’s “Plunge Protection” team coming -up with inventive new rationalizations for printing new money and bailing out bankers. With the president directed to sound upbeat, the ex-Banker and former Professor are contradicting all their earlier assurances that the market would correct itself.

If your name is Max Wolff, a New School professor and brilliant young economist, you were on a panel at the Left Forum in New York about “the Coming Depression” explaining how the derivative game had been repackaging fraudulent mortgages and then, slicing, dicing and “Securitizing” them off quickly with 72 hours to buyers all over the world.

Those buyers were mesmerized by the high returns but then found there were no assets behind these “asset-based securities.” Once turned on by Wall Street, they are now turning on it. The law suits blaming our Suits are coming. Foreigners have lost their confidence in how assets are valued.

If your name is Nicklaus Skaggs of Vacaville California, you are one of tens of thousands of homeowners who are walking away from your homes and their mortgage burdens.

Reported the San Francisco Chronicle:

“As their home values tumble and their mortgages rise, these “walk away” homeowners” decide to cede their houses to their lenders.

“It’s throwing good money away after bad” to pay an escalating mortgage on a home that’s plunging in value, said Army Sgt. 1st Class Nicklaus Skaggs.. He and his wife, Tishara, stopped paying their mortgage in February. They signed up with a new company called You Walk Away to help guide them through the multi-month foreclosure process.”

Other homeowners are so angry that they trashing or burning their own homes. Still others are moving into tent cities springing up near Los Angeles. It took a British media outlet, the BBC, to report on that.

Has our media prepared us for this disaster? Yes, there are headlines now since these developments can’t be ignored. But where were the TV networks and the press when all these practices which we now hear denounced were first taking place and building steam?

Where were the warnings and the outcry against the engineered dropping of the dollar and the likelihood that the interest rate cuts would drive up prices and lead to the stagflation we are now experiencing. Unfortunately this was not a celebrity sex scandal. Those worries were buried.

The business press told us about the ups and downs of the market, not how the underlying debt burden and all the subcrime game playing could destroy our economy. Concludes Dean Starkman in the Columbia Journalism Review, “Today, as the credit crisis unravels, the business press can be fairly blamed for inattentiveness to the growing strains on middle-income borrowers. Maybe that’s why so many middle-income people don’t read it.”

If they had, they would have seen the chorus of complementary coverage of Alan Greenspan who was lionized as a genius. Now critics point to how his policies created the housing bubble. Today, he says the economy is at its “worst points since WW2.” One blogger dismisses him as “Mr. Obvious.”

I met him — and have less amusing words to describe him with.

But what are we seeing in the rest of the press and TV media? More and more ads selling us deceptive mortgages and credit cards. The media is always more about selling (and buying) than telling the truth. Their failure as watchdogs helped bring about this economic failure not to mention the Iraq War now marking its fifth year. And they make money on the misery.

Even today, it’s hard to get a critical narrative out on these issues. Some months ago, the Independent Film Channel told me they would broadcast In Debt We Trust, the documentary I made warning of the crisis. Late last week, they killed it. No real reason given. On the same day, John Conyers, chairman of the House Judiciary Committed had staffers meet with me to schedule a screening on the Hill. He thinks members of Congress should see it urgently.

This is part of the media-reality disconnect we have to confront. You can’t trust the financiers or the media that gave them a pass. We have to arm ourselves with information and prepare for the possible catastrophe to come.

News Dissector Danny Schechter spent eight years working for ABC News. He now edits Mediachannel.org. Info on his latest film at InDebtWeTrust.com. Comments to Dissector@mediachannel.org


In Debt We Trust Trailer


In Debt We Trust – A Film by Danny Schechter

Added: February 13, 2007

FAIR USE NOTICE: This blog may contain copyrighted material. Such material is made available for educational purposes, to advance understanding of human rights, democracy, scientific, moral, ethical, and social justice issues, etc. This constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Title 17 U.S.C. section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use’, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.


The Collapse of American Power By Paul Craig Roberts

Massive Debt Default by Mike Whitney

“Bernankerupted”: Bear Stearns Fire-sale sends Global Markets Plunging; Dollar Routed

The Total Collapse Of The Global Economy (video)


Big Media & The NWO – The Murdoch Empire by Stephen Lendman

Dandelion Salad

by Stephen Lendman
Global Research, February 7, 2008

For Big Media, truth is a scarce commodity and in times of war it’s the first casualty, or as esteemed journalist John Pilger noted: “Journalism (not truth) is the first casualty (of war). Not only that: it(‘s)….a weapon of war (by its) virulent censorship….by omission (and its) power….can mean….life and death for people in faraway countries, such as Iraq.”

Famed journalist George Seldes put it another way by condemning the “prostitution of the press” in an earlier era when he covered WW I, the rise of fascism, and most major world and national events until his death in 1995 at age 104. He also confronted the media in books like “Lords of the Press.” In it and others, he condemned their corruption, suppression of the truth, and news censorship before the television age, and said “The most sacred cow of the press is the press itself, (and the press is) the most powerful force against the general welfare of the majority of the people.”

Orwell also knew a thing or two about truth and said telling it is a “revolutionary act in times of universal deceit. ” Much else he said applies to the man this article addresses and the state of today’s media. He was at his allegorical best in “Animal Farm” where power overwhelms freedom, and “All animals are equal but some….are more equal than others.” And he observed in “Nineteen Eighty-Four” that “Those who control the present control the future (and) Those who control the future control the past.”

Today’s media barons control the world as opinion makers. Like in Orwell’s world, they’re our national thought control police gatekeepers sanitizing news so only the cleansed residue portion gets through with everything people want most left out – the full truth all the time. They manipulate our minds and beliefs, program our thoughts, divert our attention, and effectively destroy the free marketplace of ideas essential to a healthy democracy they won’t tolerate.

None more ruthlessly than Murdoch and the info-entertainment empire he controls. Its flagship US operation is Fox News that Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR) calls “the most biased name in news….with its extraordinary right-wing tilt.” In response, Murdoch defiantly “challenge(s) anybody to show me an example of bias in Fox News Channel” because in his world the entire political spectrum begins and ends with his views. For him and his staff, “fair and balanced,” we report, you decide” means supporting the boss. Alternative views are biased, verboten and rarely aired. But they’re hammered when they are as the “liberal” mainstream that’s code language for CNN and other rivals at a time all media giants match the worst of Fox and are often as crude, confrontational and unprofessional.

Distinguished Australian-raised journalist Bruce Page wrote the book on Murdoch called “The Murdoch Archigelago.” It’s about a man he calls “one of the world’s leading villains (and) global pirate(s)” who rampages the mediasphere putting world leaders on notice what he expects from them and what he’ll offer in return. It’s “let’s make a deal,” Murdoch-style that’s uncompromisingly hardball. Acquiesce or get hammered in print and on-air with scathing innuendo, misinformation and outright lies. Few politicians risk it. Others with alternative views have no choice, and world leaders like Hugo Chavez are used to this type character assassination.

He mostly worries about the other kind and with good reason as long-time Latin American expert James Petras reported November 28. Four days before a crucially important constitutional reform referendum, he published an article headlined: “Venezuela’s D-Day – The December 2, 2007 Constituent Referendum: Democratic Socialism or Imperial Counter-Revolution.”

In it, he reported that the Venezuelan government “broadcast and circulated a confidential (US embassy) memo to the CIA” revealing “clandestine operations….to destabilize (the referendum) and coordinate the civil military overthrow of the elected Chavez government.” It’s because independent polls predicted the referendum would pass even though they proved wrong. The dominant media readied to pounce on the results but instead went into gloat mode on a win Chavez called a “phyrric victory” but Murdoch headlines trumpeted “Chavez’s president-for-life-bid defeated.” This is the type vintage copy Page covers with reams of examples in his book.

Its central theme is that the media baron wants to privatize “a state propaganda service (and manipulate it) without scruple (or) regard for the truth.” In return he wants “vast government favors such as tax breaks, regulatory relief, and monopoly” market control free from competitors having too much of what he wants solely for himself and apparently feels it’s owed to him.

Because of his size and media clout, he usually gets his way and mostly in places mattering most – in the biggest markets with greatest profit potential in a business where truth is off the table and partnering with government for a growing revenue stream and greater influence is all that counts.

The Murdoch Empire from its Inception

Murdoch’s empire is vast and is part of his News Corporation that was incorporated in Australia in 1979 (Murdoch’s home). It was then reincorporated in 2004 in the US in the corporate-friendly state of Delaware with its headquarters in New York. The company was huge when media experts Robert McChesney and Edward Herman wrote about it in their 1997 book, “The Global Media Giants.” Back then, it ranked fifth in size among the giants (it’s now third after Time Warner and Disney) with $10 billion in 1996 sales when the authors called the company “the archetype for the twenty-first century media firm….and the best case study (example) for understanding global media firm behavior.”

Gross revenue today tops $28 billion, operating income is nearly $4.5 billion, the company has over 47,000 employees, it operates on six continents, 75% of its business is in the US, and one industry analyst told McChesney and Herman 10 years ago “Murdoch seems to have Washington in his back pocket” as he keeps getting favorable rulings to do what he wants. And that was under Bill Clinton who signed the outrageous 1996 Telecommunications (giveaway) Act for Big Media and Big Telecom that let them consolidate further through mergers and acquisitions and be able to squash competition and diversity.

In those days and earlier, Murdoch aimed high to control “multiple forms of programming – news, sports, films and children’s shows–and beam them via satellite or TV stations to homes (around the world with) Viacom CEO Sumner Redstone (once saying) Murdoch ‘want(ed) to conquer the world.’ ” Other media chiefs said he was doing it, and he’s “the one media executive they most respect and fear, and the one whose moves they study.”

Murdoch inherited his father’s Australian News Limited newspapers in 1952. He had no journalistic background but compensated by cultivating political influence through favorable electoral coverage. He became managing director of News Limited in 1953 and then took over running Adelaide News in 1954. He founded News Corporation in 1979 but years earlier concentrated on acquisitions and expansion to build his business. In 1964, he launched Australia’s first national daily, The Australian, later acquired The Daily Telegraph in Sydney, and in the late 1960s entered the UK market by snaring The News of the World. In 1950, it was the world’s most popular English language newspaper with a peak circulation of around 8.4 million. It was about six million when Murdoch got it in 1968.

More acquisitions followed. They included The (London) Times and The Sunday Times in 1981, and by the 1980s he was a dominant force in the US. He bought the film studio, Twentieth Century Fox, that launched Fox Television and now notorious Fox News.

Today, the company is in everything media-related (except music) and describes itself on its web site as “Creating and distributing top-quality news, sports and entertainment around the world.” That’s in the eye of the beholder where there’s considerable disagreement with the official company position. Nonetheless, the site lists a vast array of News Corporation operations:

— Filmed entertainment: 20th Century Fox, 20th Century Fox Espanol, 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment, 20th Century Fox International, 20th Century Fox Television, Fox Searchlight Pictures, Fox Studios Australia, Fox Studios Baja, Fox Studios LA, Fox Television Studios, and Blue Sky Studios;

— Television: Fox Broadcasting, Fox Sports Australia, Fox Television Stations, FOXTEL, MyNeworkTV, STAR; and the newest entry, Fox Business, to compete with CNBC and Bloomberg;

— Cable: Fox Business Network (just launched), Fox Movie Channel, Fox News Channel, Fox Sports Channel, Fox College Sports, Fox Sports Enterprises, Fox Sports En Espanol, Fox Sports Net, Fox Soccer Channel, Fox Reality, Fuel TV, FX, National Geographic, Channel United States, Channel Worldwide, Speed, and Stats, Inc.;

— Direct broadcast satellite television: BSkyB, DirectTV, and Sky Italia;

— Magazines and Inserts: Big League, Inside Out, donna hay, ALPHA, News America Marketing, Smart Source, The Weekly Standard, and Gemstar – TV Guide International Inc.;

— Newspapers: 21 in “Australasia” including the Daily Telegraph and Sunday Telegraph, Herald Sun and Sunday Herald Sun, Post-Currier, Sunday Mail, Sunday Times, The Australian, The Mercury, and the Weekly Times; 6 in the UK including The Times, The Sunday Times, The Sun, and News International; and two in the US – the New York Post (the Columbia Journalism review calls “a force for evil”) and Wall Street Journal as of December 13 when News Corporation announced the completion of its acquisition of Dow Jones & Company;

— Books: HarperCollins Publishers, Australia, Canada, Children’s Books, United States, United Kingdom, Zondervan;

— Other assets: 25 are listed including Broadsystem, Fox Interactive Media, IGN Entertainment, FoxSports.com, Fox.com, News Outdoor and others.

News Corp. even claims to be addressing climate change, says it’s “committed” to “lowering the energy use of its businesses” across the globe, will “switch to renewable sources of power when economically feasible,” and will “become carbon neutral by 2010.” True or false, it’s likely the company does address its energy consumption to cut costs as most other businesses also do, climate change or not.

Bruce Page picks up the story in “The Murdoch Archipelago” published in 2003. Even while attacking the media baron, he says he and others do some good. Murdoch, for instance, “exposes numberless sexual peccadilloes, and much lesser crime – but not dud military campaigns or Enronesque frauds.” He specializes in sensationalist pseudo-journalism that distorts the truth on the news and loads it with juiced-up reports on murder, mayhem, mishaps, celebrity gossip and soft porn. Page goes on to say “the world would be better off without News Corp.” and before he ever bought it “There’s certainly a good case that he should not own The Wall Street Journal.”

Too late, now that the Bancroft family sold it to him for the billions he offered and muscle he applied to get it like he always does. They might have considered former Chicago columnist Mike Royko’s comment when he left the Sun-Times after Murdoch bought it (and later sold it Hollinger, Inc.’s fraud convicted Conrad Black). Moving to the Tribune, he remarked “no self-respecting fish would (want to be) wrapped in a Murdoch paper….His goal is not quality journalism (it’s) vast power, political power.” Murdoch’s own private joke also should have scared them off that “God doesn’t trust (him) in the dark.” Nor should anyone anywhere, anytime.

Page’s polemic traces Murdoch’s history in his lengthy book covering his rise from early beginnings to his unrivaled status in today’s media world. It’s the story of power and a man who wields it ruthlessly as a world class predator – with deception and chicanery, arrogance and artfulness, charm and cunning and sheer muscle, will, intimidation, poisonous influence and toadying to get his way as he generally does. Whatever Rupert wants, Rupert gets, and nothing stands in his way. That goes for governments and his editors as well as reporters in print and on-air. No one crosses Murdoch. Anyone practicing real journalism gets dispatched elsewhere to pursue it.

Page explained from firsthand accounts that Murdoch newsrooms aren’t fun places to work. He upbraids editors and interferes with their work. Also, as explained above, he uses his operations for power play politics to bend governments to his will. As his influence grows, so does the bending, and along with it, fake journalism bearing no resemblance to the real kind. It’s a Murdoch specialty by a world class pariah in a media world beset with them, but Murdoch’s the worst. He’s bereft of ethics, an authoritarian boss, and the book is full of examples of how he throws his weight around, bullies people and prevails. It also expresses particular displeasure about the way he cozied up to the Chinese in 1994 by removing BBC World News (no media paragon, just classier than Murdoch) from Satellite TV Asia Region in return for special favors he got.

Page also exposes Murdoch’s absurd claim to be an enemy of the establishment, a populist, and battler for the common man. This from someone raised in privilege, courts the powerful, represents entrenched wealth, is now a billionaire, benefitted from nepotism, is passing his empire to his children, smashes print unions, runs a “bordello of papers” as the Sunday Times called it before he bought it, and has easy access to Number 10, the White House and other seats of power.

Page worries that media barons cause serious harm by undermining democracy, and Murdoch’s the worst of the bunch. He targets the vulnerable, attacks disenfranchised minorities and bashes gays, Muslims, innocent victims of war and oppression, and anyone getting in his way. Page warns that unless we see his threat and confront it, all free societies are at risk.

Page also exposes the Murdoch myth of an archetypical entrepreneur whose “journalistic (and business) genius” got him where he is. Nonsense about a man, like his father, who uses press power for business favors to gain more power. Yet he audaciously told his biographer, William Shawcross, to “Give me an example. When have we ever asked for anything?” Page has reams of it exposing Murdoch’s guile and mendacity about wanting a “level (media) playing-field.” Just the opposite. He’s obsessed with monopoly control and smashes competition for it.

He also smashes editors who disobey him. One observer called him unhinged, out of control and completely amoral while a former Sunday Times editor, Andrew Neil, describes the “terrorism” Murdoch spreads throughout his empire to get his way. Neil also wrote: “Rupert expects his papers to stand broadly for what he believes – a combination of right-wing Republicanism from America mixed with undiluted Thatcherism from Britain.”

Murdoch’s US Fox News Flagship

Fox News smoothes the way for him as a round-the-clock Bush administration commercial imitating real news. It debuted in 1996 and one of its on-air hosts explained the “Channel was launched (because) something was wrong with news media….somewhere bias found its way into reporting….Fox….is committed to being fair and balanced (covering) stories everybody is reporting–and….stories….you will see only on Fox.”

Later, the Columbia Journalism Review had a different view. It reported “several” former Fox employees “complained of ‘management sticking their fingers’ in the writing and editing of stories to cook the facts to make a story more palatable to right-of-center tastes.” One of them complained about never running into that before before while FAIR reported “Fox’s signature political news show, Special Report with Brit Hume, was originally created as a daily one-hour update devoted to the 1998 Clinton sex scandal.” So much for “fair and balanced” real news.

This type attack never happens to a Republican and hasn’t for Fox’s presidential favorite, Rudy Giuliani, who was sinking fast, fared poorly in early primaries and now has withdrawn from the race. Nonetheless, his leadership failures and marital transgressions were ignored, and so were his ties to friend, business partner and former New York City Police Commissioner, Bernard Kerik. He was indicted on 16 counts of federal corruption, including bribery, conspiracy, tax fraud, and lying on his federal disclosure forms for not reporting a $250,000 “loan” (a likely payoff) from an Israeli billionaire that may have been sent to him for Giuliani for favors rendered.

An added twist is that a former Kerik lover, Judith Regan, sued Murdoch’s News Corp. and accused the company of pressuring her to commit perjury to protect Giuliani’s presidential hopes. Fox News won’t explain or cover it, but it daily airs preferential bias for Giuliani in its slanted reporting. It’s a blatant example of unethical coverage to manipulate news for its own purpose.

FAIR also blasted one of Hume”s regular features – “The Political Grapevine” that’s billed as “the most scintillating two minutes in television” as a sort of right-wing “hot-sheet.” It features anchor Hume “reading off a series of gossipy items culled from other (generally) right-wing” sources. It’s not subtle and is blatantly partisan calling Democrats, environmentalists, the liberal media, civil rights groups, anti-war activists and Hollywood and other liberals “villians” while Republicans are good guys or “heros who can do no wrong.” When critics jump on Fox, it hits back claiming a responsibility to correct the “liberal media’s bias” with Bill O’Reilly saying Fox “gives voice to people who can’t get on other networks.” What it does, of course, is slant the news its way to please the boss, and that means a distorted hard-right point of view only.

It also means the more people watch it, the less informed they are as News Dissector Danny Schechter explained about all TV news in his candid insider’s book “The More You Watch, The Less You Know.” That doesn’t bother Murdoch who spends millions for lobbying and hundreds of thousands more for political contributions – mostly to Republicans but also to friendly Democrats to buy and keep his growing influence. It pays off with senators like Trent Lott once telling the Washington Post: “If it hadn’t been for Fox, I don’t know what I’d have done for the news.” He means a right-wing echo chamber pretending to be unbiased.

Long-time Republican operative Roger Ailes runs it for Murdoch with FAIR once quoting former senior Bush aide Lee Atwater saying he operates on “two speeds – attack and destroy.” He also called Clinton a “hippie president,” refers to liberals as “bigots,” and assures all on-air programming conforms to his views. Only Republicans get hired to air them and those screened for jobs are asked to be sure.

As for punditry and political debate, here’s how FAIR characterizes it: on shows like Hannity & Colmes, The O’Reilly Factor and The Beltway Boys it’s like watching “a Harlem Globetrotters game (knowing) which side is supposed to win.” Or maybe pro wrestling. The discussion is so lopsided, it’s impossible hiding Fox’s partisanship, and it shows with on-air hosts like Tony Snow endorsing Republican Bob Dole for President in 1996 and then seamlessly becoming White House press secretary from May, 2006 to September, 2007. Other Fox “journalists” are as bad and collect handsome fees addressing Republican gatherings and corporate interest groups with big name ones like O’Reilly reportedly charging $50,000 per engagement on the lecture circuit delivering red meat to audiences that love it.

So do hard core Fox viewers who swallow the channel’s pro-Bush, pro-war, pro-occupation America uber alles type journalism combined with juiced-up infotainment reports imitating real news. It makes it hard knowing where one ends and the other begins. In the mainstream, much of it is the same, and all of it defiles what journalism should do –

— be the principle source of political information to create an informed citizenry Jefferson said was “the bulwark of a democracy;”

— provide a wide range of opinion and analysis of all key issues affecting everyone;

— hold governments accountable to the public interest and not just the privileged elite part of it; and generally

— “comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.”

Murdoch and the rest of the dominant media fail the test. Their concentrated power blunt democracy by destroying its essential free marketplace of ideas. Today, social control substitutes for diversity, free expression, and an informed electorate; pro-business ideology trumps the greater good; and the single-minded pursuit of profit triumphs over beneficial social change. Combating it means confronting the media barons who are as determined as Murdoch to squash us.

Organizations like Free Press are doing it. It’s a “national nonpartisan organization working to increase informed public participation in crucial media policy debates.” It aims to “generate policies that will produce a more competitive and public interest-oriented media system with a strong nonprofit and noncommercial sector” promoting greater diversity. The more democratic our media, the more accountable government will be to public concerns. Free Press focuses on four broad areas to help: “media ownership” for greater competition and diversity; “independent and public media” free from the single-minded pursuit of profit; “internet freedom” from corporate control; and “media reform” of a corrupted system aided by government that must end.

To happen, public participation is essential, and for that organizations like Free Press are crucial. Corporate media control is the core issue of our time along with overall corporate dominance with governments as their handmaiden. Democracy and a free society are impossible unless that changes. It’s we the people vs. the Murdochs of the world, and we’ve only just begun fighting back.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net.

Also visit his blog site at www.sjlendman.blogspot.com.

Stephen Lendman is a frequent contributor to Global Research.

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George Orwell’s classic Animal Farm (must-see film)