Glenn Greenwald: The Myth of a Free Press
As most of you know, we are harsh critics of the corporate-owned media in this country mainly because they’ve neglected their duties given to them by our Constitutional framework. We need thousands of Glenn Greenwald in this country. They are actually whining about the decline of the industry when they are the ones who have brought it upon themselves by choosing to join the private sector.
It’s hard to be an antagonist of the free market when you’re a member. Once the large appetite of capitalists devoured the free and independent press, they also found it helpful to consume our government. Thereby leaving nothing to check its incessant need for power and growth. This corporate media state uses the press to protect itself from criticism by destroying anything critical of its methods. The press also promotes different versions of the truth meant to appeal to a targeted demographic.
In order to properly assess what is going on within a system so corroded with collusion and corruption, it must stay free and independent. We understand the exact words of our framers when they wrote about the importance of the free and independent press and what the consequences would be to our democracy should it fail its mission.
Let’s not be subtle, it has failed its mission. James D. Wolfensen echoed these sentiments when he was the president of the World Bank:
A free press is not a luxury. A free press is at the absolute core of equitable development because if you cannot disenfranchise poor people if they do not have a right to expression if there is no searchlight on corruption and inequitable practices, you cannot build the public consensus needed to bring about change.
As we’ve seen with many changes in Indiana being forced upon us by right-wing republicans in the statehouse, once the public gets a taste, they begin pushing back. We are seeing this across the country. Change comes from building a public consensus that demands changes by elected officials. As many articles have pointed out, our elected officials aren’t listening.
Listen to Justice Thurgood Marshall in the 1974 case Procunier v. Martinez, “The First Amendment serves not only the needs of the polity but also those of the human spirit – a spirit that demands self-expression.”
The Constitution’s framers gave the press broad freedom for a specific purpose. This freedom and authority were necessary to set up a strong, independent voice referred to often as the ‘fourth branch” of government. An independent press can offer citizens various information and opinions on matters of public importance.
So, as we’ve said, what happens when this “fourth branch” of government is acquired by industry and information is contrived, or journalists are told what they can or cannot say? It’s not really free speech, so what would you call it?
Check out the definition of “public relations” from Wikipedia, “Public relations is the practice of managing the spread of information between an individual or an organization and the public.
See the difference between a “free press” and “public relations”? The father of modern public relations was Edward Bernays or Sigmund Freud’s nephew. We’ll discuss the relevance of Mr. Bernays in a later article.
The role of the press is to seek truth and report the findings, where the role of public relations is to manage the flow of information.
We had to bold the above sentence because it is extremely important – a free press is meant to inform while the role of public relations is to control or shape the flow of information. The key difference is management of the information occurs from the top down.
A boardroom’s executives can dictate or control the message, thereby influencing public consensus. They tell us what they want us to hear for a specific response. It’s called control.
If you’ve followed the Edward Snowden case, you’ll understand the distinction by the reactions of members of the press. Edward didn’t go to NBC, Fox, CBS or ABC. He didn’t call in to the Today Show or 60 Minutes. He didn’t call the Washington or Huffington Post. He specifically contacted Glenn Greenwald at the Guardian.
He couldn’t trust any other media outlets – the ones Fox News calls “liberal because they side with Obama on everything”.
These media outlets are all part of corporate-owned media controlled by the 1%. A total of six companies own 80% of all media outlets. They control the “spread and flow of information.” Corporate media is a public relations firm for the same 1% who buy and sell politicians – consisting of all republicans and many democrats.
Wikipedia describes the United States as a corporatocracy as a tacitly coordinated collective composed of corporations, banks, and governments.
The concept has been used in explanations of bank bailouts, excessive pay for CEOs, as well as complaints such as the exploitation of national treasuries, people, and natural resources. Critics of globalization have used it, sometimes with criticism of the World Bank, unfair lending practices, and criticism of free trade agreements.
Glenn Greenwald is an adversarial journalist – tough on the corporatocracy which owns politicians and media alike. If you’ve listened to any of the interviews with Glenn, you know his colleagues treat him more like a criminal than a peer. Here is a great example of a BBC on-air reporter who tries to drill Glenn for writing about GCHQ and NSA spying on citizens, but it backfires.
For nearly thirty years, this Elite Ruling Club has found ways to keep journalists operating as public relations officers by acquiring them into their fold where our government is simply a division of private enterprise, thus, preventing them from doing their job… “You tote the corporate line or you’re out.”
Due to the information age and social media, the tide is beginning to turn. Journalists don’t need a major platform to publish their articles. They can blog and share on social media. The corporatocracy is losing control of the information flow. The information age has also put the power of information into the hands of people, but most don’t realize they have it yet.
As for Glenn Greenwald, he’ll be doing more than blogging since he has found a financial backer in Pierre Omidyar, the billionaire founder of eBay, who committed $250 million for NewCo. Glenn, along with Laura Poitras
and Jeremy Scahillwill be building a new investigative journalism platform. This should be fun to watch.
Edward Snowden has been called many things, but you’ll have to agree it took a lot of courage to retrieve those documents and share them, knowing it would cause serious embarrassment to the United States, causing a strong threat of retaliation and lengthy detainment if captured.
It took less courage for Glenn Greenwald to weave them into manageable articles, but it involved tremendous sacrifice, knowing that your job as a journalist will never be the same. In fact, many journalists and elected officials are seeking his detainment as a conspirator of Snowden’s for writing about the NSA in the Guardian. It’s bad enough to stifle and control journalists, but requesting they be jailed for doing their job goes beyond scary. It means our society is closing – our democracy is failing.
When journalists are challenged to do their job like Obama has done during his presidency, and trade agreements are made in secret without representation of the people, we don’t have a democracy. When Gov. Pence ignores the will of Hoosiers about education reform in Indiana by setting up his own “educational board,” our democracy takes a hit.
When a journalist for the IndyStar tells Glenda Ritz to stop the “political bickering, ” he is failing us citizens – the entire weight of a free and independent press should be thrust at Gov. Mike Pence for circumventing Indiana law and ignoring the will of Hoosier voters. Instead, the Gannett-owned IndyStar diminishes their role by cowering under the power of the governor’s office.
As opposed to democratic principles, we see mostly autocratic rule backed by corporatocracy. Despite the large monolithic controlling interests, we can’t ignore “the spirit demands self-expression.” We expect a tremendous power shift with Glenn Greenwald’s NewCo enterprise backed by Pierre Omidyar. This new journalistic enterprise has the potential to shed a very bright light on the monied interests that collude with our governments to prevent meaningful change benefiting the greater good.
With good information in our hands, we can build a solid “consensus for change,” which Mr. Wolfensen spoke of at the grassroots level. The only thing keeping the 99% from coming together in this country is intentional mass disinformation campaigns perpetrated by the Elite Ruling Class through their public relations firms (newspaper and media).