Black Agenda Radio Commentaries
News, analysis and commentary on the human condition from a black left perspective.

Obama's FCC Intends To OK Unlimited Concentration of Radio, TV, Newspaper Ownership in Top 20 Markets

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Bruce A. Dixon

Imagine a US media landscape even more viciously unfair, more drastically tilted to favor greedy, irresponsible and immensely powerful media corporations than the one we already have. It would be quite a feat of imagination, but the Obama administration's FCC has done it for us, and intends to make it real.

The Federal Communications Commision is now considering a measure that will remove the few remaining limits on how many radio and TV stations and newspapers giant media companies are allowed to operate in a single market. Apparently, President Obama believes that we need even fewer wealthy corporations to control what we see, hear, and are allowed to broadcast to each other.

It's no surprise that broadcast media are not reporting this story. Corporate media never cover stories that reveal the extent of their own vast power and privilege in our supposedly “democratic” system. What is shocking, however is that President Obama's FCC Commissioner Julius Genakowski intends to push this measure through in what amounts to a secret meeting, with little or no chance for public input and not even the least pretense of transparency, before Xmas.

Bush's FCC tried the same thing back in 2007. They were stopped by two factors. The first was a federal court ruling that said shrinking the number of companies that own newspapers, TV and radio stations would lessen the already scant presence of media owners who were women and minorities. The second factor was a firestorm of public disapproval. The American people, left, right, black, brown, and white simply don't believe that a handful of giant media entities should have even more control over what they see, hear and can say to each other.

It's hard to understand at first glance, why the Obama administration would try something this blatantly evil, that flies directly in the face of federal court orders and explicitly kicks sand in the faces of many who supported him in 2008 and 2012.

But let's take another look. Suppose the Obama administration convinces a segment of minority media owners to accept some crumbs and withdraw their objection to fewer giant companies owning more of our media universe. A move like that would take the federal court and minority broadcasters out of the picture, and with them, most of the black and Latino advocacy organizations like the NAACP, who really don't answer to ordinary black and brown people on the street, but who do pay very close attention to what black and brown business people like the minority broadcasters have to say.

With the federal court out of the way, most of the traditional advocacy organizations sidelined, and corporate media not reporting the story anyhow, the Obama administration may think it can deliver to Fox Media, to Rupert Murdoch, to NBC-Universal, to Disney and CBS what the Bush administration could not ---- the legal license to lock down and monopolize the top 20 media markets by owning multiple radio, TV and newspaper properties. What George W. Bush could not deliver for Big Media at the expense of the people, Barack Obama intends to.

The US political system channels almost all grassroots activism into electing corporate candidates. Most of the preachers and others who marshaled support for the president's re-election all the while swearing to hold his feet to the fire are off somewhere right now not paying attention, simply because the election is over, and getting out the vote is all they every do, all they've ever done. It's time for something old school, something completely different. If Dr. King were around today, he'd say it's time to make some noise, time to disobey some unjust laws, until the law, and things in general get better.

For Black Agenda Radio I'm Bruce Dixon. Find us on the web at www.blackagendareport.com.

Bruce A. Dixon is managing editor at Black Agenda Report, and a state committee member of the Georgia Green Party. He can be contacted via this site's “contact” page, or at bruce.dixon(at)blackagendareport.com.

Direct download: 20121128_bd_fcc.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:06pm EDT

Obama and GOP Play Tag Team on Entitlements

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

It is a choreographed beat-down of the American majority by corporate Democratic and Republican thugs, aided by shrieking corporate media banshees screaming, Watch out for the cliff, Watch out for the cliff!”

It seems that every breathless moment of corporate media news is choreographed to convince Americans that austerity is as inevitable as tomorrow’s weather. The objective of this con game is to gut Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. The two principle parties engaged in negotiations – the White House and congressional Republican leaders – are both agreed that entitlements must be put under the knife. The “grand bargain” that both Obama and the GOP seek has already been made, in principle. Austerity is the common language and goal of the talks, and nobody that counts in the discussions is defending entitlements.

There is only one problem: the vast majority of Americans oppose cuts in Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.

This is the great difficulty facing both Obama and the Republicans: the fact that the public favors the maintenance and even expansion of the meager U.S. social safety net. The disagreement, the great debate, is not between Republicans and the White House, who both agree on putting entitlements on the chopping block. The disagreement is between strong majorities of the American people, who want no tampering with the three entitlement programs, and Obama and his Republican friends, who are hell bent on so-called entitlement “reform.”

This is not a fight between the two parties; it is a choreographed beat-down of the American majority by corporate Democratic and Republican thugs, aided by shrieking corporate media banshees screaming, Watch out for the cliff, Watch out for the cliff!.

Corporate Democrats and Republicans can abandon the pretense of a great ideological divide, and return to their shared mission of cutting entitlements.”

The “grand bargain” was struck back in the summer of 2011, when both sides agreed on roughly $4 trillion in cuts. The agreement only unraveled because a presidential election was drawing near, and the two parties needed to pretend that they were separated by vast political differences. Now that the election is over and the verdict is in, corporate Democrats and Republicans can abandon the pretense of a great ideological divide, and return to their shared mission of cutting entitlements. Both hide behind the phony “fiscal cliff” to convince the public that the pending theft of entitlements is an unstoppable act of nature, rather than a conspiracy of corporate henchmen, against the clear wishes of the majority of Americans.

Robert Reich, the liberal former Labor Secretary in President Bill Clinton’s administration, says that Obama is not behaving like a president who is serious about facing down the Republicans. If he were, Obama would let the Bush tax cuts die at the end of this year, and then have Democrats introduce new tax cuts for the middle class. The president could dare the Republicans to hold middle class to tax cuts hostage to cuts for the rich. In that kind of facedown, Obama would likely win.

But Obama is not trying to outmaneuver Republicans; he and the GOP have teamed up to stampede the public – the suckers in this game – into giving up their entitlements. As David Swanson puts it, we are not witnessing the making of a grand bargain, but a “grand catastrophe.”

Minneapolis Congressman Keith Ellison, the Black co-chairman of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, says he and the other 75 members “are not going to allow the most vulnerable Americans to shoulder the burden of this fiscal problem.” But the left wing of the Democratic Party can only stop the forces arrayed against entitlements by actively opposing their own president, who is playing austerity tag team with the Republicans. And the so-called progressives don’t have it in them.

For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Glen Ford. On the web, go to BlackAgendaReport.com.

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.

Direct download: 20121128_gf_FiscalCliff.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:15am EDT

Stevie Wonder Disgraces Himself with Concert for Israeli Military

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

One of Black America’s most beloved artists has signed, sealed and delivered his vast talents in service to the murderous military of a racist, criminal regime.”

Say it ain’t so, Stevie Wonder. The music superstar is lending his name and talents to one of the most unworthy causes in the world: a salute to the Israeli Defense Forces, in Los Angeles, on December 6. Stevie Wonder will help raise millions for an Israeli war machine that is already funded by U.S. taxpayers to the tune of billions of dollars a year. It is a shame and a disgrace that one of Black America’s most beloved artists has signed, sealed and delivered his vast talents in service to the murderous military of a racist, criminal regime. It’s an even bigger shame that there will likely be no punishment for Stevie Wonder from his many fans, in this, the Age of Obama.

Even a generation ago, in the 1980s, Stevie Wonder could not have expected immunity from mass condemnation for helping throw a party for a racist government – for any amount of money. Back in 1985, the South African regime tried to blunt the global anti-apartheid movement by inviting American entertainers of all races to perform at Sun City, the white regime’s version of Las Vegas. Sun City was built in Bophuthatswana, a poverty-stricken black bantustan. Lots of U.S. entertainers, including some Black ones, allowed themselves to be bought off by the white regime’s deep pockets. These included Tina Turner, The O’Jays, Dionne Warwick and Ray Charles. Famously, while Blacks outside the Sun City venue loudly protested his appearance, Ray Charles ostentatiously patted his back pocket, signaling that he was all about the money.

Other entertainers came together under the banner of Artists United Against Apartheid, to shame those that sold themselves to racists. Little Steven Van Zandt brought together 50 artists to record “I ain’t gonna play Sun City,” which was also made into an award-winning video. The cast included RUN DMC, Jimmy Cliff, George Clinton, Afrika Bambaataa, Miles Davis, Herbie Hancock, Grandmaster Melle Mel, Bobbie Womack, Kurtis Blow…and those are just some of the Black ones.

Entertainers came together under the banner of Artists United Against Apartheid, to shame those that sold themselves to racists.”

Funds raised from “I ain’t gonna play Sun City” went to a host of anti-apartheid organizations around the world, including Washington-based TransAfrica and the American Committee on Africa.

Sun City still exists as a tourist attraction in Black-ruled South Africa. The Black population that had been forced out of their homes to make room for the resort were given back title to their land.

Stevie Wonder, himself, recorded a song condemning apartheid. Titled, “It’s Wrong (Apartheid),” the song includes these lyrics directed toward the white leaders of South Africa.

The pain you cause in God's name
Points only to yourself to blame
For the negative karma you will be receiving…”

By selling his good name and great talents to the Israeli Defense Forces, Stevie Wonder is contributing to Israeli apartheid – a system that some describe as even worse than that practiced by the white South African regime. Decent men and women seek to boycott and isolate Israel and its military, while Stevie Wonder helps it throw a party. In his own words, Stevie is earning himself some very “negative karma.”

For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Glen Ford. On the web, go to BlackAgendaReport.com.

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.

Direct download: 20121128_gf_StevieWonder.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:01am EDT