The 60 Minutes Benghazi story is a window into the state of corporate media today. Media consolidation, profit pressures, demographic pandering and acquiescence to the wishes of corporate advertisers have all combined to divert the focus from presenting the truth to enhancing the bottom line- and to furthering the agenda of corporate America. Today an Edward R. Murrow would be seen by the networks as a risky bull in their profitable china shop. He would never make it on the air.

CBS News Chairman Jeff Fager, facing initial criticism of the Benghazi piece, announced that he was “proud” of the presentation and the work behind it. Only after numerous other news organizations discovered the duplicity involved, by both the key source for the story and CBS itself, did CBS apologize for their “mistake.” But for CBS the only mistake was the reliance on a source proven to have lied previously- a fact CBS knew ahead of time (just not the number of lies). What CBS did not apologize for was two other important aspects of their reporting: That the story was tied to a book deal with a CBS subsidiary and the fact that the presenter, Lara Logan, had announced her bitter Benghazi antagonism toward the Obama Administration in a speech a year before the report.

Violating the bounds of journalistic integrity, Logan was assigned to a story for which she already had an answer. The obvious conclusion is that there was an agenda here to resurrect Benghazi and reignite the supposed controversy. It worked. GOP Senators pounded their chests again and used the story as pretext for promising to block unrelated Presidential appointments. Anti-Administration and Benghazi conspiracy theorists now had the justification that previously eluded them. Even after the retraction the blocking and chest thumping continued.

The real surprise was the reaction of the pundits. How could this have happened, they wondered as if this was an aberration? If they had read the chapter in America Adrift, entitled “The Divisive Impact of Our Profit-Conflicted Media,” they would have known that this was no aberration. I urge you to read it as well. The only “mistake” made by 60 Minutes is that they got caught doing what other media do regularly today. Put profit before truth. More importantly, the major media have become to varying degrees the willing co-conspirators in the effort by corporate America to propagandize the public to support their economic and anti-government views. The widespread economic misunderstandings and antagonism toward our government (apart from the politicians) is a product of the relentless drumming of the media that continues to drive a wedge between Americans. It is all part of the larger story of why America is adrift.

 

 

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