Seven years ago, Outfoxed exposed Rupert Murdoch’s top down journalism at FOX News, and the dangers of ever-enlarging corporations taking control of the public’s right to know.
In the wake of Murdoch’s NewsCorp scandal, and as we witness the widening impact of corporate dominance on media practices, it is even clearer that we need to continue the discussion around how we can restore integrity in journalism.
What has changed over these seven years?
The story keeps unraveling before our eyes, and yet no true accountability has caused the Murdochs to change their behavior. One of the latest pieces of news in this story is that 11 people have now been arrested in the News of the World hacking scandal, yet both James and Rupert stand to receive several million dollars in bonuses, supposedly due to their job performance. We’ve also recently learned that BSkyB is keeping James Murdoch on their board. At this point, it seems as if the Murdochs are getting away with their criminal and unethical behavior with barely even a slap on the wrist.
If the level of corruption involved in this scandal doesn’t bring about serious conversation and a push for a change in how things work, there might be no hope for fighting the evil that comes from such corporate conglomerate control. That is why Brave New Films has decided to celebrate the anniversary of Outfoxed by holding an event with some of the smartest minds in our country.
I invite you to join a live and online discussion that will take place Tuesday, August 9th at 5 pm PST/8 pm PST at bravenewfilms.org/outfoxed.
This one-hour anniversary event will feature clips from Outfoxed and Fox Attacks, along with commentary from such notable media and public figures as Cenk Uygur (The Young Turks; former MSNBC host), Janeane Garofalo (Actor/Comedian), Katrina vanden Heuvel (The Nation), James Rucker (ColorofChange.org) and Ilyse Hogue (Media Matters). I will also use the opportunity to answer live and previously submitted questions from the audience. (I encourage you to send your questions in advance.)
Outfoxed heeded numerous warning signs on the dangers of ethic-less journalism. Seven years later, the world is witnessing what happens when corporate conglomerate power runs unregulated and lacks the checks and balances required for there to be any accountability. As a company, NewsCorp, with FOX often leading the way, has led an imaginary war in which it sees itself as “against the world.”
Over the last year, Brave New Foundation has continued to expose the corruption that comes from consolidated power that runs unchecked. Our Koch Brothers Exposed campaign has revealed how the wealth and political power of the Koch brothers echoes some of the lessons we’ve learned from Outfoxed. When conglomerate profit increases and is allowed to drive any agenda unchecked, the health of our democracy and our journalistic institutions pays the price.
The current Murdoch investigation continues to unveil the criminality, corruption, distortion and overall unethical behavior woven through the NewsCorp fabric. And yet, over these last seven years, not much seems to change about the level of accountability to which we hold the Murdochs’ actions. This coming Tuesday we will discuss what this accountability should look like, and what can be done to stop this pattern of corruption from spreading.
The Rupert Murdoch NewsCorp scandal is a loud and overdue warning bell about what has long been Murdoch’s standard for professional ethics in journalism.
In 2004, I created Outfoxed to expose Rupert Murdoch’s war on journalism. Outfoxed examined how media empires, led by Murdoch’s Fox News, have long been running a “race to the bottom” in news delivery. The film provides an in-depth look at Fox News and the dangers of ever-enlarging corporations taking control of the public’s right to know. Through exploring Murdoch’s burgeoning media kingdom, the film examined the negative impact had on society when one person controls a broad swath of media. Clearly, the story didn’t end there.
We’ve moved far beyond only hearing from the canary in the coalmine. As we now see layer upon layer of corruption exposed, the full extent of the story remains unknown. News of the World is shuttered. BSkyB is temporarily no longer in play for full Murdoch takeover. There are questions about how deep and how complicated the corruption spreads. We know that the voicemail of a murdered thirteen-year-old was hacked. We know bribes were paid to police. We know that soldiers killed in action and their families were also targeted for illegal spying. And now US senators have moved to call for a Department of Justice investigation into whether American citizens were additionally targeted; including whether 9-11 victims too had their phones hacked.
As I follow the unfolding story, it reminds me not only of the warning call of Outfoxed, but also of Brave New Foundation’s latest project, an expose of the corruption and power of the Koch brothers. The conglomeration of too much power in the hands of ethic-less ideologues is a shared theme. When this happens in the world of journalism, and when this happens in the world of politics, the public inevitably pays the highest price.
A recent segment of Koch Brothers Exposed examined the intricate right-wing echo chamber the brothers fund in order to propagate policy lies into the mainstream debate. Unsurprisingly, Fox News was a key outlet through which they could accomplish this.
Such pooling of power and control has caused our political and journalistic institutions to lose integrity and to move away from the service they should provide to society. At what point do we say enough to such ideological conglomerate control of journalism and democracy? If the rash of stories this week isn’t enough for us to seriously reconsider the role of corporate control of our society, I don’t know what will be.
The ever-exposed corruption of Murdoch’s empire, along with the ever-exposed corruption the Kochs cause our democracy, can no longer run unchecked. With clear eyes we need to examine the power distribution such entities have, and what must be done to bring ethics and standards back into our public sphere. We need to do this now and with the seriousness a fight for the survival of democracy requires.
Satire is an effective tool to take the conservative opposition’s perceived strengths and use it against them, which is what we’re doing here with Palin’s movie. This is not a film, but our best chance to redirect the nonstop media attention she’s getting with her bus tour and upcoming film.
It feels like every time Sarah Palin blinks she’s written up in the news, and we don’t intend to give her more media attention. We can’t stop the presses from covering her every move, but we can help focus, undercut and change the Palin narrative.
Her film is likely coming to a theater near you, and we’ve all been carpet-bombed by the film’s plot, importance and potential. Thank you news media, but you don’t need to be a film critic or TV anchor to know the film misses the truth.
That’s why we’re giving everyone a chance to tell Sarah what’s missing from her film. We’re going to take the best submissions and put them to a vote. The winner receives a Sarah Palin collectable bobblehead doll.
Her movie isn’t out yet, but there’s plenty of ammunition when considering things the film’s missing. Early reviews focus on the films omission of the Troopergate scandal, when Palin fired an aide who declined to retaliate against a state trooper who went through a bitter divorce with Palin’s sister.
The film also fails to acknowledge or ‘refudiate’ the smorgasbord of liberal, independent and conservative criticisms of Palin, preferring instead to portray celebrities like Bill Maher, David Letterman and Matt Damon as political clairvoyants.
The film’s flawed on its most basic Film Production 101 levels too. Even the New York Post, never to be misidentified as a liberal rag, panned the film because music was awful and the plot would contradict earlier scenes. Ed Morrissey at Hot Air, certainly no fan of my work, was also disappointed a two-hour movie relied on so many quick cuts.
“I’d guess the average shot length has to be somewhere around three or four seconds,” Morrissey wrote. “It reminded me of the cable-TV series Dream On, and not in a good way. Like the soundtrack, the overall effect is decidedly unpleasant.”
“With a $1.6 trillion deficit,” Sen. Bernie Sanders told Jon Stewart recently, “it is insane to think that the only way you’re going to move toward a balanced budget is by slashing college Pell grants, by cutting Medicaid, by converting Medicare into a voucher program, by cutting programs that working class and middle class people desperately need.”
The Senator on social security: “Social Security has a $2.6 trillion surplus. It could pay out every benefit owed for the next 26 years. It is not going bankrupt. It’s not going broke.”
On income inequality: “You have so few who have so much and so many that have so little. Those are themes not usually discussed here in Washington, for kind of obvious reasons.”
Senator Sanders is a bold voice, and one that’s missing every Sunday. He’s a passionate advocate for the middle class and yet his last morning show appearance came late last year.
Compare that to Sen. John McCain, who leads everyone with 10 appearances this year alone. His friends and ideological allies, Sens. Lindsay Graham and Joe Lieberman, round out the top seven interviewees this year, with six and five appearances each.
The Sunday shows often set the tone for the upcoming political week. As the same voices drone on, the Senator’s absence means the political and media elites are overlooking the forces squeezing working and middle class Americans.
Will you call or write the network producers and tell them to Bring Senator Sanders On? (Their contact information is at bottom.)
Senator Sanders waves during a Memorial Day parade. (Photo by sanders.senate.gov)
You’ve probably heard the Senator’s zingers and social philosophy picked up despite the shows’ pattern of interviewing the same half-dozen politicos each week. It’s not rocket science. It’s because what the Senator says is popular and widespread that it shines through the media muzzle.
“Medicare for all” is something the Senator’s pushed for years. More fundamentally, Senator Sanders is one of the few leaders who understands that political debates exist in terms of individuals and lives.
“I would not support Medicaid cuts when you have 50 million Americans who have no health insurance today at all,” the Senator said.
As GOPers coalesce around the plan to end Medicare, the Senator speaks for millions of Americans when he reminds us about the 45 million Americans who will die this year because they don’t have health insurance.
“It is morally obscene to cut programs for the most vulnerable people in this country,” he says.
Why is Senator Sanders being kept off the Sunday shows? It must be ideological discrimination because nothing else explains how the same tired trope of alleged newsmakers is trotted out each week.
Like McCain, Graham and Lieberman, the Tea Party is overrepresented on the shows too. Rep. Michele Bachmann, Sens. Rand Paul and Mike Lee all have far more appearances on Sunday shows than Senator Sanders. It doesn’t take much when the Senator has never been interviewed in 2011.
These conventional wisdom weather vanes are, as you’d expect, all the same. They are for spending cuts of different sizes, for interventions of different scopes and favor radical changes like dismantling the Federal Reserve or Education Department for different reasons. Many Democrats aren’t so different either, but Senator Sanders is one of a kind.
The Senate’s only self-styled socialist, Senator Sanders is passionate, outspoken, and offers a unique worldview among the elected American political spectrum and news media elite.
He has a wide following across the country and around the world, which is partly due to his uniqueness in contemporary American politics. He has an incredibly engaged Facebook community of 66,300 individuals, a Twitter following of more than 38,000 and an email list that reaches thousands upon thousands more.
The Senator can make the mundane policy differences engaging and catch fire. In a committee hearing about access to health care, Sen. Rand Paul equated “a right to health care” to enslaving medical professionals. Senator Sanders was able to transform Paul’s talking point into inspiration for his supporters and common sense reasonableness to his critics.
“My profound question to the [doctor] is, do you, as an employee at a federally qualified health center, consider yourself a slave?”
Even Paul had to laugh off his absurd question.
With Bernie absent from the Sunday shows, and their trend toward booking the same politicians each week, there exists an echo chamber within an echo chamber. With a lack of diversity each week, the Sunday shows move further away from their historical origins in American broadcasting.
They were conceived as a way to justify using public airwaves. The Federal Communications Commission licenses networks the right to use public radio waves because it’s a public service. That’s been precedent since the very beginning of American broadcasting.
Ideological discrimination is bad for ratings and worse for our democracy. As the Sunday shows move away from their historical moorings, our democracy suffers from a dearth of journalistic public service.
All the while, the “crooks on Wall Street [who] caused the recession” and politicians “who go after the middle-class, working families, low-income people” – in Bernie’s words – will be wearing television makeup and living comfortably in the networks’ green rooms this Sunday.
Will you call or write producers for Face the Nation, This Week, Meet the Press and State of the Union and respectfully ask them to bring Bernie on?
Face the Nation: Carin Pratt, (202) 457-4481, email@example.com
Meet the Press: Iliana Drimmer, (202) 885-4598, firstname.lastname@example.org
This Week: (212) 456-7777 (push 5 and address your message to Rick Kaplan, executive producer of This Week)
State of the Union: Michelle Jaconi, (404) 827-1500, email@example.com
For 22 days, Wisconsin state Sen. Chris Larson and 13 Democratic senators were on the lam in Illinois and fighting to stop the state GOP and Republican governor from ending collective bargaining rights for teachers, custodians and other public employees.
Live from our Culver City studio, Larson spoke with us exclusively about Gov. Scott Walker’s tactics and what we can learn from the protesters.
“[Walker] wanted to be the first, hot new guy on the block,” Larson said. “It has everything to do with a strange Republican fantasy to try and be Ronald Reagan.”
The anti-union bill that sparked the outrage and demonstrations in Wisconsin became law weeks ago, and Larson said he expects it to reach the state Supreme Court. In the meantime, the solidarity movement that began in Wisconsin and spread nationwide is proof that GOP scare tactics don’t work.
“Our state was united because Green Bay won the Super Bowl,” Larson says in this next clip. “Walker came along and tried to divide the middle class against itself… [and] he united the people against him.”
For more on this story and all of our campaigns, follow Robert Greenwald on Twitter, click here!
Next month will mark the one-year anniversary of the launch of President Obama’s escalated military campaign in Afghanistan. One year later, violence is still getting worse and costs are skyrocketing. After more than nine years, it’s time to end this war.
On February 13, 2010, NATO troops launched Operation Moshtarak in the Marjah district of Helmand Province. It was the first major military action enabled by President Obama’s 30,000-troop escalation, and was supposed to be proof-of-concept for Generals McChrystal’s and Petraeus’ counterinsurgency doctrine. The military hype said Afghan forces would be in the lead as coalition forces invaded Taliban-controlled areas. They’d deliver “government in a box, ready to roll.” Over and over, military officials repeated their mantra that the new troops would enable them to “protect the population.”
What followed was a fiasco that still hasn’t ended.
The pattern of hype and embarrassment repeated itself across Afghanistan all throughout 2010, as U.S. military officials repeatedly asserted that an influx of troops would bring security and protect the population, only to see those areas remain violent hot-spots where civilians were rarely safe. NATO similarly invaded Kandahar in force later in the year, and that area remains hotly contested and violent. In fact, violence in Kandahar and Helmand account for more than half of insurgent-initiated attacks for all of Afghanistan. Worse, areas that were previously relatively secure suddenly saw a spike in the number of insurgent attacks at the Taliban continued their relentless expansion across the country.
So. President Obama has had a full year now to prove that his new strategy is worth the costs. What are the results?
Numerous polls show that opposition to the war is at an all-time high, with 63 percent opposing the war. When you do the math, that’s more than 196 million Americans who want our troops to come home.
While we were wasting $100 billion on this war per year, Americans fought to stay above water in a horrible economy. Unemployment has now topped 9 percent for 20 months straight. Groups like the Salvation Army are reporting an alarming shortfall in resources to help the hungry. And state budgets all across the country are considering huge draconian cuts to their public structures and social safety nets that millions of people rely upon. Not only do most Americans oppose the war, but they rightly worry that it’s making it harder for us to fix these problems here at home.
After a year of escalated fighting across the country–after more than nine years of this war!–it’s absolutely clear that military solutions won’t work in Afghanistan, and they’re certainly not worth the cost. More than 195 million Americans want this war to end, yet their faces don’t seem to be reflected among elected officials to timid to take the morally courageous action of forcing this war to a close. So we’re giving people a chance to put their face and their opposition to the war in full public view.
Today, we’re launching “Because It’s Time” on Rethink Afghanistan to help Americans who oppose this war to make their voices heard. On this page, you can post your photo and a reason why it’s time to bring troops home.
Starting next Wednesday, you’ll have the chance to vote on your favorite comments. Those who get the most votes will get to star in an upcoming Rethink Afghanistan video.
This Monday, January 17th, is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. It’s a day for us to celebrate one of the most important peacemaking heroes in our nation’s history, and an appropriate moment to reflect on the power of nonviolent social activism motivated by love and a sense of justice. For the millions of us who oppose the Afghanistan War (and yes, there are many, many millions of us in the U.S.), Dr. King points the way to the end of the Afghanistan War and beyond, to the onset of the Beloved Community.
Just don’t tell the Pentagon.
I was amazed and bewildered to find Pentagon officials and paid military propagandists scrabbling to claim Dr. King as a supporter for war-making. From the general counsel down to the writers at the American Forces Press Service, the military bureaucracy was humming with the asserting that if Dr. King were alive today, he’d “understand” the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and would consider the activities that take place while fighting those wars akin to the actions of the Good Samaritan from the Christian gospel story. It was one of the most shameful attempts to cover these brutal, futile wars in humanitarian wallpaper I’ve seen in years.
Of course, Pentagon General Counsel Jeh Johnson and the American Forces Press Service are wrong. As our new Rethink Afghanistan video shows, virtually every reason given by King in his “Time to Break the Silence” speech for opposing the Vietnam War would damn the Afghanistan War as well.
Here are just a few examples:
King decried the awful willingness of his country to spend $500,000 per each killed enemy soldier in Vietnam while so many Americans struggled in poverty. Yet last year, a conservative figure for the amount we spent per killed enemy fighter in Afghanistan was roughly $20 million.
King spoke of the “monumental dissent” that arose around the Vietnam War. “Polls reveal that almost 15 million Americans explicitly oppose the war in Vietnam,” he said. But today, 63 percent of Americans oppose the Afghanistan War, and when you do the math, that’s 196 million people, give or take the margin of error.
Dr. King also spoke of the “demonic, destructive suction tube” yanking resources and lives out of the fight to get Americans on their feet. That tube is still demonic and destructive: we’ve spent more than $360 billion on this war so far and it will cost us roughly $3 billion per week in the coming year. Add to that the 10,000 people, including about 500 U.S. troops and countless civilians who died last year alone, and you can see exactly what he’s talking about. The hope of our getting out of this abysmal economic vice is burning on the roadsides of Afghanistan every day we refuse to start bringing troops home.
No, it’s safe to say that Dr. King would not regard any conflict that killed 10,000 people in a year as a humanitarian exercise. Nor would he “understand” how a nation in the grip of an economic meltdown like this one could again throw lives and resources away for almost a decade. It’s safe to say that he would move beyond the “prophesying of smooth patriotism” and stand up to end this war that’s not making us safer and that’s not worth the cost.
Brave New Films received an early copy of the script and shared it with leading historians, including Ted Sorensen and Thurston Clarke, who charged the miniseries with being blatant distortions of the truth.
This victory proves that democracy requires history be vigorously defended from revisionism. Those who write the history of our country cannot do so without the eyes of truth tellers upon them. Today the truth in history won out.
To keep up with all the latest from Brave New Films, follow Robert Greenwald on Twitter by clicking here.
This video highlights some of the craziness around what extending the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans could mean in terms of spending. The average amount these tax cuts would give is $80,000, which would allow a rich American to hire the entire staff of the Jersey Shore to appear at a party, or it could pay one month of unemployment for 273 Americans. But when you look at the richest of the rich, say, CEOs of big banks on Wall Street, they would stand to gain even more, reaping between $700,000 and 1.6 million each from these tax cuts.
Extending tax cuts to the richest 2% of Americans would cost our country $700 billion in new debt. At a time when nearly 15 million Americans are out of work, and over 2 million are in danger of losing their homes, Congress’ priority needs to be the 98% of Americans who need the most support.
Tell Congress that they must NOT pass a tax cut for the wealthiest 2% of Americans.
Call Your Representatives now and tell them not to spend $700 billion on the richest among us. In this time of high unemployment and housing lost, we need to have better priorities!
Here’s the number for the House (202) 224-3121
Once you’ve made your call, visit here and share with us how it went and why you oppose tax cuts for the wealthy.
We have already seen the notes of appreciation start to come in from throughout the country.
Greg S. posted: “Congressman Grayson, the fact that the GOP worked so hard to defeat you was because you are right and you work for us. Don’t let January be the end. Let it be the beginning of a new Progressive movement, and please lead us there. You are respected and loved and we thank you! You are a truly great American!”
Kevin S. wrote: “I absolutely love Alan Grayson. This guy is a true American. He stands up for his/our rights, is for the average person, and tells it like it is. Obama/Grayson – 2012!!!!”