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

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."

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.

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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.

Laura Flanders

Laura Flanders

Laura Flanders is the award-winning host and executive producer of The Laura Flanders Show, a nationally-syndicated TV and radio program that looks at real-life models of shifting power in the arts, economics and politics. Flanders founded the women’s desk at media watch group Fairness and Accuracy In Reporting (FAIR) and produced and hosted the radio program CounterSpin for a decade. She is also the author of six books, including The New York Times best-seller BUSHWOMEN: Tales of a Cynical Species. Flanders was named Most Valuable Multi-Media Maker of 2018 in The Nation’s Progressive Honor Roll, and was awarded the Izzy Award in 2019 for outstanding achievement in independent media.

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