Thursday, August 28, 2008

Censoring Billionaires

August 28, 2008, 10:20 a.m.

In American Media Even Billionaires Get Censored

I have enough Texan in me (Austin and Houston, 1952-59) that I get a real kick out of reminders of the folks I used to know, in this case some straight talking fellow like T. Boone Pickens ponying up the money to take on the oil industry and Bush Administration.

Unless you don't have a TV set, or never turn it on, surely you know about his proposal to, if not solve, at least address our energy crisis: massive investment in wind power to relieve power plants dependence on natural gas (and polluting, greenhouse gas emitting coal), and use our clean burning natural gas to power our cars and trucks, bridging the gap until we can come up with something better. ("This is one problem we can't drill our way out of.") The Pickens' Plan.

To critics who note he owns a lot of that natural gas he replies, simply, "Look, I've got $4 billion and I'm 85 years old. I don't think I need any more money" (or something like that).

Anyhow, Gregory Johnson of ResourcesForLife, brought to my attention this morning that NBC is now censoring Pickens. "Too Hot for NBC," The Daily Pickens.

It's not the first time they've done something like that. Back in the 1970s, I think it was, Mobil Oil had a creative public relations executive named Herb Schmertz who was permitted to run quarter-page ads on the New York Times editorial page, and did some creative advertising for the oil company. When NBC rejected one of his commercials, he came to the public interest environmental community and offered us something we could never otherwise have afforded: equal time on the network, at Mobil's expense, in which we could attack the company as viciously as we wanted. Mobil would pay double, and permit our attacks, so confident was Herb that he could convince the public and Congress that fish really do feel kind of cuddly about offshore drilling rigs. Well, NBC turned down that idea as well. (At least that's how my aging brain now remembers it.)

My point? That the result of the Supreme Court's view -- that with the First Amendment right to speak goes a First Amendment right to silence all others, including billionaires and Fortune 500 corporations -- along with the concentration of the mass media into fewer and fewer hands, is that the mainstream media have a choke hold on what the newspapers, magazines, cables, satellites and airwaves can bring into our homes.

Now, of course -- because censorship is a natural human tendency in all times, in all institutions, and under all forms of government -- this handful of media firms want to have the same control over the once wild-west-free Internet. But that's a story for another day.

For this morning, I just thought you might like to watch this 15-seconds from my currently favorite Texan, T. Boone:

Because you won't be seeing it on NBC.

# # #

No comments: