Posted by: Nathan Dinsdale | November 21, 2011

Err, America

McChesney makes compelling points about the dangers of media deregulation (chapter 19) and the importance of loosening the corporate media stranglehold on information and public discourse. Indeed, the “corporate media explosion” that has hastened “the implosion of public life” (chapter 20) is both increasingly evident and entrenched.

Unfortunately, it’s exceedingly difficult to close that regulatory barn door after the horses are already out. McChesney was grim when he wrote the book a few years ago. Nowadays, I suspect he’s popping blood-pressure medication ad nauseum given the trench warfare of contemporary U.S. politics.

Consider how politically difficult it’s been to place increased regulations on financial institutions even though the free-wheeling sins of the financial industry are almost universally regarded  as being a primary cause of the current economic morass.

To initiate a regulatory overhaul of media and telecommunications is a non-starter for the foreseeable future even though I’d agree that there’s an increased distrust of corporate media (chapter 22) across ideological lines.

While I support McChesney’s “Case for U.S. Public Broadcasting” in chapter 21, the prospect of increasing assistance for public broadcasting through legislative means is a dead-end street in this political environment. Conservative ideologues are particularly hell-bent on eroding the already rickety public broadcasting system as it exists.

At the risk of sounding naïve, the best bet for preserving non-partisan media outlets at this juncture is through grassroots measures like social activism, social media and direct philanthropic support. The pledge lines are open.

Discussion questions: 

Juxtaposed against the widespread success of conservative talk radio, why do you think the liberal counterpoint—Air America—was such a failure?

Given the current political climate, which do you think is more likely: increased regulation of corporate media or even further deregulation of those same companies?

McChesney discusses the antitrust case against Microsoft. On what grounds could you argue that a media conglomerate like News Corporation is in violation of antitrust laws?

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