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As James Madison said, "A popular government without popular information, or the means of acquiring it, is but a prologue to a farce or a tragedy, or perhaps both."

Concentrated Media Power is Real Power: We've Let Markets Rule the Public's Airwaves

For months we have done our best here at the Laura Flanders Show show to keep it a Trump-free zone. As far as humanly possible we’ve not commented on Donald Trump's rise, his fall, his peaks, or his lows.

But maybe just maybe there is something positive that could come of this Trump fiasco. And that's the creeping realization that media critics were right all along. Concentrated media power is real power, and we should worry about it.

As James Madison said, "A popular government without popular information, or the means of acquiring it, is but a prologue to a farce or a tragedy, or perhaps both."

Or, to put it another way, years in office, climbing the political ladder, are no match for hosting fourteen seasons of the Apprentice.

Trumps success with real voters has put the GOP's gatekeepers in a snit. Media bias they cried way way way way too late in the game. But Trump is far from the only dangerous bully puffing himself up on the public's airwaves.

His eleven years on NBC isn't close to Bill O’Reilly’s twenty years on Fox. Just like Trump, O'Reilly's never seen a civil rights violation he couldn’t blame on a civil rights victim, or a goat he couldn’t scape. But who cares - only ratings matter in this game.

O'Reilly's bosses didn't even blink when O’Reilly, who spends much of his time ranting about derelict parenting by Black parents lost custody of his kids after his daughter told a court she’d witnessed him drag her mother down a staircase by the neck. Only ratings matter.

These are the public’s airwaves. And these are the people in whose hands we leave them. That's not a bias problem. That's a power problem. And its exactly what happens when we let markets, not sense, rule.

© 2019 Laura Flanders
Laura Flanders

Laura Flanders

Laura Flanders interviews forward-thinking people about the key questions of our time on The Laura Flanders Show, a nationally syndicated radio and television program also available as a podcast. A contributing writer to The Nation, Flanders is also the author of six books, including "Bushwomen: How They Won the White House for Their Man" (2005). She is the recipient of a 2019 Izzy Award for excellence in independent journalism, the Pat Mitchell Lifetime Achievement Award for advancing women’s and girls’ visibility in media, and a 2020 Lannan Cultural Freedom Fellowship for her reporting and advocacy for public media.

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