By Ben Cohen
While I'm fairly sure whole scale fraud occurred in the recent Iranian elections, the level of coverage and scrutiny of the Ahmadinejad regime has been somewhat bewildering. I touched on this in a previous article, but I think it is worth exploring some more.
The American media and even blogosphere has been completely obsessed with the elections in Iran, and have covered it with the same fervor as the death of Anna Nicole Smith. There are breaking alerts, in depth specials, round table discussions, and expert analysis from a variety of talking heads.
While the Iranian elections were certainly important (and the death of Nicole Smith not), there is a common thread. Both events have nothing to do with what is really going on in America, and both events allow the media to exercise a great deal of focus and attention without offending anyone that matters. The million dollar corporations responsible for bringing us news have vast resources, amazing cameras, digital technology and increasingly spectacular graphical capabilities. When they want to focus on something in depth, they can bring an insane amount of detail to a topic no matter how large or small.
What matters is that it has no bearing on entrenched power interests in the United States.
Currently, the U.S government is acting as a giant welfare state to a corrupt banking system, pouring trillions of dollars of tax payers money to enrich the scoundrels responsible for the economic crisis in the first place. There is also a giant lobbying effort by the pharmaceutical industry to block meaningful health care reform, another illegal war going on in Afghanistan, and a continued build up of the military industrial complex, all of which cost an insane amount of money. The outcomes of the above have serious consequences for regular people, yet the corporate media presents a microscopic view of the topics, refusing to ask meaningful questions and supporting the status-quo.
If the news media were to function properly as an independent counterbalance to government and corporate power, we'd have far more rigorous analysis of where tax payers money was going. Instead of the usual 'entitlements for the lazy' argument the Right loves to wield, we'd hear more about how the rich are stealing from the poor and middle classes, and more about the greed of the banking industry. We would know that there is no such thing as the free market - that it was a phrase coined by the powerful to convince the weak that they had no where else to go. That you either survive or die, and no one would be there to help if you lost your job, or had to foreclose on your house. We'd know that a luxurious welfare system exists for the most well off, and food stamps and lectures would be there for the poor.
We'd know that privatized health care was a complete failure, and that a government run system works best. We'd know that the U.S government engages in illegal activity around the world, propping up corrupt regimes, financing coups and subverting democracy whenever it threatens its economic interest.
But we don't. We know that Anna Nicole Smith died of an overdose, and that no one knew the identity of her child's father. We know that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is a corrupt clown who has abused his people and democracy. Interesting, yes. Relevant? Maybe. But when the United States is on the brink of economic catastrophe, it might be useful to know why. And our media system simply doesn't seem to care.
When a corrupt economic system keeps you wealthy, it pays not to speak out about it. The major media players are owned by various corporate conglomerates with a huge interest in maintaining the status quo. We don't hear alternative voices questioning that power because every good journalist and producer knows, you don't bite the hand that feeds you.