The corruption of Big Media is now evident to all but those in Big Media. On Saturday night the tombstone epitaph was written by Frank Rich.
Saturday night, the curtain fell for the last time on the magnificent Otto Schenk Metropolitan Opera production of Richard Wagner’s Götterdämmerung (“The Twilight Of The Gods“) – the final opera in the four part operatic cycle Der Ring Des Nibelungen.
As the curtain fell on Saturday night, Frank Rich, at the New York Times, unwittingly authored his own personal Götterdämmerung and that of his fellow “journalists”.
Frank Rich, most Democrats and Republicans, and we too, agree on why Big Media is in such obvious self-inflicted peril:
IF you wanted to pick the moment when the American news business went on suicide watch, it was almost exactly three years ago. That’s when Stephen Colbert, appearing at the annual White House Correspondents’ Association dinner, delivered a monologue accusing his hosts of being stenographers who had, in essence, let the Bush White House get away with murder (or at least the war in Iraq). To prove the point, the partying journalists in the Washington Hilton ballroom could be seen (courtesy of C-Span) fawning over government potentates — in some cases the very “sources” who had fed all those fictional sightings of Saddam Hussein’s W.M.D.
Colbert’s routine did not kill. The Washington Post reported that it “fell flat.” The Times initially did not even mention it. But to the Beltway’s bafflement, Colbert’s riff went viral overnight, ultimately to have a marathon run as the most popular video on iTunes. The cultural disconnect between the journalism establishment and the public it aspires to serve could not have been more vividly dramatized.
Frank Rich did not have the honesty, or possibly the wits, to notice, let alone mention, that at the very moment he hit the “publish” button on his column the very same “partying journalists” again fed in a Washington ballroom “fawning over government potentates”. This time the “partying journalists” were “fawning” over Barack Obama and his gang of looters.
It is no longer George W. Bush looting the American economy for his friends. Now it is Obama looting the American economy. Now it is Obama borrowing “almost 50 cents for every dollar” spent. Now it is Obama looting the American economy with a “charge it” credit card for this year alone of at least $1.84 TRILLION. Big Media “partying journalists” only briefly mention the looting while fawning and partying along with the
Bush Obama Crimelords.
Americans know neither Big Media opinion nor “news” is to be trusted. That is the main reason why Americans won’t pay for their Big Media news. Americans know ‘you get what you pay for’ – and American Big Media “news” is not worth a single copper alloy penny.
Frank Rich did not lay the death of Big Media at their worthless product. In a shocking lack of self-awareness, the Obama fawning New York Times columnist diagnosed the disease as – technology.
Technolog!. Rich states that the causes of journalism’s downfall are well known and “some self-inflicted”. The entirety of self-criticism is 2 words “self-inflicted”. The huge bulk of Frank Rich’s argument, aside from “economic meltdown” which came well after the rejection of Big Media by Americans, however is the “irreversible history” of Big Media’s “self-destructive retreat from innovation”.
Many paragraphs are devoted by Rich to blame technology. Rich’s audacity of hope is that like the “Hollywood movie studios, radio and the Broadway theater” Big Media will learn to “adapt” and “collaborate” with the new technologies.
Rich reminds us all that Thomas Jefferson considered journalism as “essential to a functioning democracy”. We agree with the need for journalism in American life and democracy. But Big Media is no longer in the news business. Big Media is nothing more than a massive corruption and a self-interested and self-perpetuating political party.
Rich rattles his tin cup as he attempts to fool Americans that “journalism” has done much good but does not bother to list Big Media’s refusal to report news that do not fit into the Big Media Party agenda.
Rich rattles his tin cup for “journalism” but fails to mention that the beneficiaries of Big Media wealth are not investigative journalists who search and publish the news American Democracy needs to function – the beneficiaries of the Big Media Party are the “bloviating” Big Media Party blowhards and interests.
We can’t know what is happening behind closed doors at corrupt, hard-to-penetrate institutions in Washington or Wall Street unless teams of reporters armed with the appropriate technical expertise and assiduously developed contacts are digging night and day. Those reporters have to eat and pay rent, whether they work for print, a TV network, a Web operation or some new bottom-up news organism we can’t yet imagine.
It’s immaterial whether we find the fruits of their labors on paper, a laptop screen, a BlackBerry, a Kindle or podcast. But someone — and certainly not the government, with all its conflicted interests — must pay for this content and make every effort to police its fairness and accuracy. If we lose the last major news-gathering operations still standing, there will be no news on Google News unless Google shells out to replace them.
Americans will pay for news but not for the garbage agenda of Big Media. Frank Rich does not know this. Rich begs for money to pay the rent – presumably for Washington ballrooms – where fawning on Obama and fluffing of pillows can continue on the agenda. The public has already said “NO, we will not pay Big Media bills for garbage. We will pay for news.”
The real question is for the public, not journalists: Does it want to pony up for news, whatever the media that prevail?
It’s all a matter of priorities. Not long ago, we laughed at the idea of pay TV. Free television was considered an inalienable American right (as long as it was paid for by advertisers). Then cable and satellite became the national standard.
By all means let’s mock the old mainstream media as they preen and party on in a Washington ballroom. Let’s deplore the tabloid journalism that, like the cockroach, will always be with us. But if a comprehensive array of real news is to be part of the picture as well, the time will soon arrive for us to put up or shut up. Whatever shape journalism ultimately takes in America, make no mistake that in the end we will get what we pay for.
Americans know “we will get what we pay for” which is why Americans will pay NOTHING for the product of Frank Rich and Big Media. To borrow from King Lear “Nothing begets Nothing.”
Last week Newsweek borrowed our moniker for “journalism” of today – “Big Media”. Newsweek explained what Big Media is and why it is dead:
It’s an idea that was born when Time Inc. merged with Warner Communications Corp. in 1989, to form Time Warner. It endured as the industry’s prevailing business model for nearly a generation, spawning such clones and mongrel breeds as Viacom, News Corp and GE’s NBC Universal. The vertically integrated media conglomerate was—or was supposed to be—many amazing things, giving a handful of companies unprecedented power over the media—and the chance to earn outsized profits in the process. But its defining characteristic was its sheer size, earning it a fitting nickname: Big Media.
But the theory behind the strategy relied on more than size. Housed under one roof, a single Big Media entity would control the means of producing and distributing media content, from magazine and books to television shows and movies, from cartoons and theme parks to sports franchises and the cable networks that carry the games to recorded music labels and music publishers. In Time Warner’s prototype of the model, it would control everything from the first letter of a Time magazine story or Warner Books novel to the last alphabet of the credits at the end of a Warner Brothers flick or HBO series based on the magazine story or the book division’s fiction.
Big Media needed a stooge in the White House to complete its “vertical integration” and set about to get one. Big Media won a temporary victory with the vertically integrated White House. But Newsweek says Big Media is dead:
No more. On April 29, in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes officially announced the death of Big Media. [snip]
The entertainment industry is only the latest in which the idea of vertical integration failed to live up to its promise. [snip]
So what was Big Media’s legacy? What did it contribute, positive and negative, to humankind? It’s bad form, of course, to speak ill of the departed, but the model has left mostly a negative mark on the media landscape and corporate America. Consider this list of dubious contributions:
MOGULDOM: More than any other industry, Big Media established the prototype of the modern mogul, perhaps corporate America’s most damaging form of management and leadership in history. Two prime examples: Sumner Redstone, who bashes his daughter in public, and Gerald Levin, the overreaching visionary behind the AOL transaction. The idea of the celebrity business executive—outsize personalities with jet-setting lifestyles, fantastic salaries, a sense of corporate omnipotence and entitlement—mushroomed across all sorts of industries in the last two decades, but in many ways its genesis was in Hollywood.
If it worked in Hollywood, Big Media figured it would work to have a “celebrity” executive to do their stooging in the White House. It worked. Temporarily.
Frank Rich and Big Media need to brush up, not their Shakespeare, but their Wagner. In Das Rheingold, the first of the four operas in Der Ring Des Nibelungen the Rhinemaidens sing a song. The song is addressed to the “partying” Gods who have looted their gold:
Traulich und treu
ist’s nur in der Tiefe:
falsch und feig
ist, was dort oben sich freut!
[Now only in the depths is there
tenderness and truth:
false and faint-hearted
are those who revel above!]
Frank Rich and his corrupt “journalist” brethren have heard the fat lady sing.