CORPORATE MEDIA ‘BALANCE’
I work out at the Xsport Fitness on Ashland Avenue, and this particular location (doubtless like every other one) has TV screens all over the locker room. For a long time, I would normally come in and turn off all the TVs close to my locker as I came into the locker room, or at least reduce the volume of the one over my head to whisper level.
Unfortunately, someone in gym management recently decided to disable the key functions on the TVs, meaning that only someone with a remote can change the channel, adjust the volume, or turn the bloody things off. So now I must resort to Jedi/Vulcan/Shao-lin mental focus techniques in order to shunt away the deleterious effects of the corporate blather. Occasionally, though, a tiny projectile of psychic filth penetrates my synaptic shielding, and I must resort to secondary techniques– scathing deconstruction, ridicule, sarcasm, etc.– in order to protect my beautiful mind.
This morning, from the screen in the second bay of lockers on the right, one such item assaulted my sensibilities by way of ABC’s morning minstrel show. It was a two-minutes-plus ‘news’ report about fraudulent financial claims to FEMA in the wake of the lethal post-Katrina cockup.
If you have the capability, I suggest you hold your nose and view the report here, then return.
What, if anything, strikes you as peculiar about that report? Is it that none of the faces of the fraudsters are white? Is your mind as paranoid as mine? Are you thinking that the millions of fraudulently procured FEMA dollars could not have all been snagged by Negroes (and the occasional Asian)? Are you thinking that the “prison guard” who is mentioned and not shown is probably white? Are you wondering why the voice of conscience in the story– the parish clergyman– just happens to be white, when black people (and their local clergy) made up the bulk of the victims in the New Orleans area? If so, then perhaps you are wondering, as was I while watching the report with mild disgust, why ABC News would place such an ethnically slanted story in such a highly visible place.
Perhaps part of the answer can be found here. Note that no faces of board members or executive officers of State Farm are displayed in this ABC News report. Perhaps, if this story gains political traction, we might get to see a few middle managers doing a perp walk on ABC sometime in the near future. I won’t hold my breath. Such is the nature of our corporatized nation; the wealthiest and most influential wrongdoers are largely shielded from accountability by a corporate-friendly body of laws, and shielded from public scrutiny by our corporatized media.
In its coverage of these two interconnected stories, ABC stands by its corporate family. It shows the face of (relatively) petty fraud as being lower-class and black; this continues the theme of the mythical hellhole of cannibalistic violence that was New Orleans (especially the Superdome) in the days following the levees’ collapse. In the face of our government’s obvious neglect of its most vulnerable constituents, it was all too easy for many middle and upper class reporters to reflexively regurgitate dire reports of poor, trapped negroes backsliding into utter barbarity. Subtext, intentional or not: the government neglected them, but it’s no worse than what the savages deserved.
A year later, with the depth and scope of FEMA’s (and, by extension, the Bush administration’s) abandonment of the poor and dark of the Gulf now obvious to everyone, ABC pulls a racist, class-baiting rabbit out of its hat. With a mountain of evidence suggesting massive corporate fraud in the wake of the Katrina disaster– the State Farm debacle being just one case– ABC sees fit to remind us that the poor and dark people are still their own worst enemies. The Representative of the Rat offers its corporate community the fig leaf of false balance, and it does so in the most vile, cynical, race-baiting fashion.