Don Imus was the speaker at the 1996 Correspondent’s dinner and his talk insulted President Clinton along the lines of the ongoing “conservative movement” narrative. Whitewater, Susan McDougal getting payoffs, Clintons getting indicted, missing billing records… The press had a field day — coverage everywhere. NY Times, TV Notes;Imus in the Spotlight,
Perhaps the only person more delighted than Don Imus about the flash flood of publicity following his spicy speech at a Washington dinner last week was Mike Wallace of CBS.
This is no big deal, except when compared with this week’s press response to Stephen Colbert’s appearance Saturday. The only way to describe the press response is: intentional blackout. The New York Times, for example, wrote an article about the dinner and did not mention Colbert in the article at all. A scan of Google News (at the time this post is written) finds almost no coverage outside of the blogs.
Why is there such an obvious difference in the coverage given Bush in general, compared to the coverage given Clinton? The press coverage of President Clinton led to his impeachment, even when all of the Republican-initiated investigations found he had done nothing wrong. In contrast the press continues its blackout of coverage or even discussion of possible crimes committed by President Bush.
In 1987 Ronald Reagan ordered the FCC to abolish the Fairness Doctrine, which required broadcast media to provide balanced coverage of issues. Majorities in the Congress voted to restore the Fairness Doctrine and were blocked by Republican vetoes and filibusters. (Any time you hear a Republican complain about the “liberal media” ask them why it is Republicans, not Democrats, who oppose the Fairness Doctrine.) Following that, Republicans began to allow fewer and fewer large corporations to control more and more of these information channels. (PLEASE click the links. More here and here.)
Before these changes you would see representatives of Labor, Democrats, anti-war, religions other than far-right Christianity, and other now-banned viewpoints. One particular viewpoint you would see expressed was a concern that concentrated corporate ownership of the channels of information would harm democracy. That viewpoint is also banned now.
It used to be considered essential to democracy that the public had access to information. The pubic used to have the right to demand diversity of opinion in the media. Now even expressing such ideas is banned.
Do you think “banned” is too strong a word? Tell me when was the last time you saw or heard these viewpoints expressed? When was the last time you heard a representative of Labor expressing that employees should join unions?