I now have a freelance position as WFPL’s media critic. My first column about the lack of student perspectives in local media coverage has already been posted. Because I submit my writing for the WFPL staff to post instead of posting it myself, the gap between writing and posting is long (several days — an eternity in news time), which means I’m not able to quickly comment on Louisville news media events as they happen. For instance, the resignation of John David Dyche brought up a lot of issues about the definition of censorship, media dominance, and the obligations of local media.
From my perspective, it seems that many (but not all) conservative critics of the Courier-Journal are not upset that the newspaper is biased, but that it has a specifically liberal bias. These particular critics demand that the CJ publish more conservative columnists, even though it already carries George Will, Thomas Sowell, and Cal Thomas. They demand that the CJ stop publishing its own editorial opinions (something every newspaper around the United States does) and start publishing conservative editorial opinions. Nevermind that the CJ’s letters to the editor are routinely conservative; nevermind that the CJ routinely publishes conservative political cartoons. The idea is not just that bias must be eliminated, but that all liberal thought must be eliminated.
Having read Dyche’s rejected column, I’m not sure why the Courier refused to publish it. The public reasons given by Platt seem insufficient and inconsistent. That said, I’m also not sure why Dyche quit. He should have given his column to another local media outlet and then made a public stink about it until the CJ either apologized or severed their relationship. It hurt his case (and his cause) for Dyche to take his ball and go home.
Now imagine the same situation in reverse: suppose Thomas Frank wrote a scathing column critiquing the Wall Street Journal, the WSJ refused to publish it, and Thomas Frank stormed off in a huff. How would the conservative world react? “Too bad,” they would say. “It’s their newspaper and they have a right to control their content. If you don’t like it, start your own newspaper!”
And that’s exactly what I would say to John David Dyche and the conservatives of the Metro Louisville area: start your own newspaper. If you sincerely believe that the Courier-Journal is out of touch and out of tune with the mindset of area residents, then what an incredible opportunity this is for you to start your own print version of Fox News and attract all those angry former CJ subscribers. As Glenn Beck discovered, there’s gold in them thar hills!
The legend of this Robert Smigel TV Funhouse segment is that it was yanked either by Lorne Michaels, NBC executives, or GE executives who either thought it wasn’t funny or hit too close to home. A Google search turns up not only multiple copies of the video on YouTube but also commentary from eager conspiracy theorists. Once you see it, though, you can understand why some touchy executive at Rockefeller Plaza might want it taken out of circulation (which exactly what the Chomsky/Herman propaganda model would predict). However, it did eventually turn up on the official SNL TV Funhouse DVD, and Robert Smigel has gone on to a very successful career, so I guess it couldn’t have pissed off too many important people, right?
Whatever you think might be the reason that this segment was pulled from subsequent repeats of SNL, it does make some legitimate points about corporate ownership and deregulation of the media. Here are the lyrics (with links to relevant information):
It’s a media-opoly
The whole media is controlled by a few corporations
thanks to deregulation by the FCC.
You mean Disney, Fox, WestingHouse, and good ol GE?
They own networks from CBS to CNBC.
They can use them to say whatever they please,
and put down the opinions of any one who disagrees.
Or stuff about PCBs.
What are PCBs?
They come from power plants built by WestingHouse and GE.
They can give you lots of cancer that can hurt your body,
but on network TV, you rarely hear anything bad about the nuclear industry.
Like when WestingHouse was sued for fraud?
GE made defective bolts.
It was an unreported crime.
Or when it was boycotted for robbing nuclear bomb plants just to squeeze a dime.
That’s a footnote by the way.
A footnote protects you from folks who doubt what you say.
Now maybe the voices in my head will go away.
But the bigshots don’t care.
They’re all sitting pretty thanks to corporate welfare.
What’s that now?
They get billions in subsidies from the government.
It’s supposed to create jobs, but that’s not how it’s spent.
They use PACs and soft money to support Congressmen
who will vote for weapons programs again and again
and let them dump toxic waste where the young ones play.
GE made the bullets that shot JFK.
You contribute to this chain every time you buy a product sponsored on this show.
That’s what NBC doesn’t want you to know.
So the next time… BEEP
Please stand by, please stand by.
It means there’s technical difficulties supposedly,
so if you see a “Please Stand By,”
you know it’s all part of GE’s big lie.
Why’d they take Norm MacDonald away?
Because he made too many jokes about O.J.,
but Lorne Michaels overruled.
Now don’t be fooled.
He and Marion Barry went to the same high school…