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CBS chief Les Moonves. (Photo: Reuters)

Divisive Election Bad for America but 'Damn Good' for Corporate Media

The 2016 campaign 'circus,' rife with political attacks and 'bomb-throwing,' has kept the 'money rolling in,' says head of CBS

Deirdre Fulton

Building on remarks he made to investors late last year, CBS Corporation chief executive Les Moonves said Monday that Donald Trump's divisive, hate-mongering candidacy "may not be good for America, but it's damn good for CBS."

The 2016 campaign "circus," rife with political attacks and "bomb-throwing," has kept the "money rolling in," Moonves reportedly said at the Morgan Stanley Technology, Media & Telecom Conference in San Francisco.

"Man, who would have expected the ride we're all having right now?...The money's rolling in and this is fun," he said.

"I've never seen anything like this, and this going to be a very good year for us. Sorry. It's a terrible thing to say. But, bring it on, Donald. Keep going," added Moonves.

Of the cash cow known as political advertising, the corporate media honcho said: "Most of the ads are not about issues. They're sort of like the debates."

As Huffington Post reporter Nick Visser wrote, Moonves' comments "reflect an ongoing media blitz that revels in lambasting the xenophobic, racist and often false comments Trump makes, but outlets still opt to put him on the air."

Indeed, other candidates see no choice but to follow Trump's lead. The New York Times reported Sunday that Trump rival Marco Rubio has seemingly "determined that the only way to beat [Trump] to fight like him: rough, dirty and mean."

In turn, an "already surreal presidential campaign" has been sent "lurching into the gutter with taunts over perspiration, urination and self-tanner," the Times wrote, referring to some of the insults slung during and after last week's Republican debate.

As Common Dreams and others have reported, media companies are well-positioned to benefit from the unlimited campaign spending corrupting the U.S. political system. Moonves himself said in 2012: "Super PACs may be bad for America, but they're very good for CBS."

And Trump has found a surefire way to exploit an unprincipled press, journalist Matt Taibbi wrote last week at Rolling Stone. "Trump isn't the first rich guy to run for office," he noted. "But he is the first to realize the weakness in the system, which is that the watchdogs in the political media can't resist a car wreck. The more he insults the press, the more they cover him: He's pulling 33 times as much coverage on the major networks as his next-closest GOP competitor, and twice as much as Hillary."

Taibbi continued: "Trump found the flaw in the American Death Star. It doesn't know how to turn the cameras off, even when it's filming its own demise."

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