Thursday, October 12, 2017

1984 or North Korea?

I was shocked to learn that The Wall Street Journal is owned by Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation. Not that I read its online news that often, but occasionally I find a particular story interesting. I have always had a nagging feeling that their views were more than a little biased. In recent months it has been quite obvious to me that many of their articles sound like FOX News. Thus, I did a little research and found out why. Rupert Murdoch. They are a bit more subtle than FOX, however, that tends to be dangerous in my estimation. I nearly always check on new sites I've never heard of before, as well as those that sound too biased one way or the other.

The older I get, the more set in my ways I become. I have favorites of everything from my brands of coffee and creamer to the television programs I watch. I almost memorize my favorite channels and their lineup of shows. As I no longer get out and about like I used to, I am always home on Sundays. Consequently, I have watched the same programs on the same network channels for several years now. A few months back I was shocked one Sunday morning when a favorite religious program I normally watched was not on. I switched channels to see if I had inadvertently hit a button that changed it. No.. I listened for a bit, and thought my gosh! I was listening to a FOX News commentator. Not possible. I immediately got online and searched the TV Listings. Sure enough, my regular program had been displaced. This irritating woman named Sharyl Attkisson had her own conservative-leaning, thirty-minute show, pushing my regular, positive speaking, uplifting church service to the next half hour. I angrily muted the audio and vowed to research online later that day to find out what was going on.

Related imageMost of my readers know by now that I am a progressive liberal in my political views. It took many, many years for my "progression", as when I was young I called myself a Republican -- and voted that way as well. Nixon's humiliation and downfall was the beginning of my disenchantment, although it was still several years before I finally admitted I was not aligned with the GOP. Having been fooled into believing a lot of nonsense (most put out by The John Birch Society) when I was very young, and since now having such wonderful access to many, many differing opinions on the internet, and ways to check from whence they come, I can now recognize extremist views like a hound dog on a 'coon's trail! I gave up cable news long ago, and now get only broadcast over-the-air news as well as online news.

It turns out that the local CBS station had been sold to the second-largest television station operator by number of stations in the U.S., and the largest by total coverage. Wikipedia on Sinclair Broadcast Group. Their reach is magnified by the number of digital multicast networks, one cable network, and four radio stations. 

I wrote my first draft of this post when I first noticed the change in my TV programming. I next began to see messages in my local CBS newscast that again sounded like FOX News, with a very definite right-wing slant. One of the commentators I discovered was Mark E. Hyman. Back to the internet again. FOX News Rival Seems Mr. Hyman was a former Sinclair Broadcast executive who now is a commentator for the segment "Behind the Headlines", shown on all Sinclair outlets. I was angry to hear his conservative propaganda. More research and more editing of this post followed.

Sometimes, as most older women do, I wake in the middle of the night. After the obligatory trip to the bathroom, I often cannot go right back to sleep, so I turn on the TV in my bedroom. Imagine my surprise to find that not only was the "Behind the Headlines" segment shown on late night, but once I found that they were repeating the entire 30-minute program of Sharyl Attkisson's that airs on Sunday morning. (I later read somewhere that, although Sinclair demands that his "propaganda" pieces like the above, and the fearmongering "Terror Alert Desk" be aired so many times in a day, some stations sneakily air them late at night or other "low viewer" times like 2- or 3-AM. I have a feeling they won't get away with that forever.)

When I read that Sinclair was attempting to purchase the Tribune Media Company, it would increase his holdings to 233 stations in 108 markets, of course, I went back to the internet. When I found the following video, I felt I wanted to share this. It's rather lengthy, so if you want to save it until later, be sure to watch the video at the bottom of this post.  (NOTE: I'm sorry to say that I did not watch John Oliver's video to the end before I posted it here. Unfortunately, profanity of the worst kind is now considered acceptable in our society -- especially since we have such a profane president. Even though Oliver's segment on Sinclair was absolutely correct and necessary, the PBS video at the end of this post covers part of his tirade without the profanity. Their coverage of what I consider a very important subject for the American public is complete and accurate. You can watch the entire Oliver video on YouTube.)           John Oliver on Sinclair Group

"If completed, Sinclair will control a whopping 233 TV stations that reach 72 percent of U.S. households. The transaction, which includes Tribune Media's 42 stations, radio station WGN-AM and other assets, is being reviewed by the Federal Communications Commission and the Justice Department's antitrust unit." Big Problems with Sinclair-Tribune Deal

The news reports online state that the chairman of the FCC, a January Trump appointee, Ajit Pai, has been shaking up the department and making it easier for corporations to command a majority of stations by eliminating many initiatives from the past. The Sinclair Group announced its intention to purchase the Tribune shortly after the relaxing of the rules.

Green dots: Stations owned  by Sinclair
Orange dots: Stations owned by Tribune
Sources: Company websites | Note: Only primary TV stations are counted. NYTimes

My kids often tease me about being such a worry wart. When I first noticed what was going on with the Sinclair takeovers, I felt maybe I was being a little paranoid. However, the more I researched, the more I found others were feeling the same as I do -- that our freedom of the press is in danger. Sinclair's monopoly, control, and methods of assuring his conservative (pro-Trump) messages are given priority wherever possible sound more and more like an attempt to control the media as it is done in totalitarian governments around the world.

I nearly always watch the 5 o'clock local news followed by network news. As soon as that hour is passed, I tune in to my most trusted news source, The PBS Newshour. As the hour progressed, I was playing a game of solitaire when my ears perked up as I heard the following segment. I was thrilled to hear everything I had been researching being validated by so many reliable sources. I am not alone anymore. (By the way, this is not the same as the John Oliver video above, although it shows a brief portion of it.)

With everything the Trump administration, along with the GOP-controlled House and Senate, has been eliminating it's hard to recognize the democracy we once knew as the United States of America. 

If FOX News and the Russian Facebook ads truly did sway the election - especially targeting the vulnerable states, what would the takeover of the content of so many other outlets do to those who only listen and not do the homework to discover the who and what motives are behind it?

What to do?

Peace and awareness,


  1. I record and faithfully watch John Oliver for just this type of thing. His show is only 30 minutes but he talks fast and gets a lot of info in! And he's funny as you can be on some of this stuff. If you're not familiar with him he was on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert. And his wife is a military vet.

    And it makes me feel angry and confused. I try to find the positive in life as much as I can but honestly, it's getting harder.​

  2. As individuals, we can do little to affect "world consciousness" which I know you well understand. I am reminded of what Jesus said in the scriptures, "Resist not evil." My interpretation of that is turn my back on it and detach myself knowing that the universe will resolve what we cannot.

    1. Thank you, my friend, as I so needed this reminder! Sure is hard to detach, though.

  3. That's some scary effing shit, Marilyn!!! I'm thankful I don't watch television, but it now makes sense that my parents and some family members and friends who watch regular TV have come to a different conclusion about trump etal than I.

    Thank you for keeping an eagle eye out. Unfortunately, though, I am afraid we're headed down a road where we may have to learn this lesson the hard way . . .

    Trying to keep the higher thought, and stumbling more often than not lately,

  4. I am surprised that you had not long ago understood that the Wall Street Journal is a Fascist rag! The only (somewhat) good thing about it is that they have a brief summary of the ordinary daily news that is not so bad, and quick to scan. But any articles which touch on policy, on politics or any commentary on events are like Fox "News" or worse.