Now It's the "MMIC" -- The <i>Media</i>/Military/Industrial Complex

Refuse to avert a crisis through diplomacy? Not newsworthy. A forgotten politician's suggestion that we respond to the result crisis with an act of war? Newsworthy.
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The evidence is all around us, yet most of us don't usually stop to connect the dots. There clearly is a "military/industrial complex" and, as Eisenhower warned, it's taking over. What Ike didn't foresee is that this machine would need to evolve into a "military/media/industrial complex" in order to keep growing. The Brave New World Order is here.

Our current leaders are deeply enmeshed with "the Axis of Evil," our latest designated nemesis. The Vice President set up a corporate operation in Iran in the 1990's. The Secretary of Defense gave WMDs to Saddam Hussein and was involved in selling nuclear reactors to North Korea. We're declaring war against the same nations that our leaders trafficked with and profited from.

(Here are the Fifteen Points of Darkness - fifteen examples I use to illustrate the impact of the MMIC on modern history.")

But it's not a new story. Our Connecticut-born President's vast inherited wealth (what? he's not the good ol' boy the media says he is?) comes in part from transactions with Nazi Germany. He and his family have also personally profited from dealings with the same Middle Eastern forces that some allege are still funding terrorist activities against us.

Still, to mention any of these undisputed facts in today's media climate is to risk being labeled an "extremist," or to be called a left-wing Rush or Coulter - as if reciting documentary evidence is somehow as 'impolite' as slandering innocent victims of war.

Those of us in the opposition tend to get absorbed fighting individual battles, or bemoaning individual events, without reminding each other how clearly they point back to underlying forces.

And yet, to describe those forces at work is to risk being labeled a conspiracy theorist, a wacko. What is the "MMIC"? Do shadowy conspirators meet weekly to decide how to run our country?

Meetings and secret plans probably don't exist. They're not necessary. There a conspiracy - sorta - but it's what Gore Vidal called "a conspiracy of shared values." And, more importantly, it's "conspiracy of mutual self-interest."

The massive consolidation of the media business helped fuel the rise of the "media" portion of the MMIC, and there's extensive commingling of financial interests between media and military companies.

But this "conspiracy of shared interests" works like this. War is good for the large corporations that hire Don Rumsfeld, Dick Cheney, and their friends. Their like-minded friends in think tanks, politics, and government support their activities. What's good for these companies is also good for their trading partners. And so on ...

It's easy to convince yourself that "staying the course" really is the right thing to do when you're making a lot of money at it.

War is good for the media business, too. It spikes ratings, creates "embedding" opportunities - why, it even motivates the help by feeding their "war correspondent" fantasies. (And it's done wonders for Eddie Bauer - every TV reporter in town bought a field jacket so they could look like a "war correspondent.")

Individual reporters, producers, and editors might consider the idea that they're part of an "MMIC" insane, since they've probably never received a "hype the war" memo. But they're not looking deeper, either, into the underlying reasons why they - rather than another type of journalist - were hired, or why their job was defined the way it was, or how their medium's reporting conventions came to be what they are today.

Here's a recent example: Few national leaders have been more thoroughly out of the public eye in the last 10 years than Fritz Mondale. The one exception was his brief run for Paul Wellstone's seat. Then, the media eagerly participated in a right-wing con job that alleged that Wellstone's funeral was inappropriately used for political purposes. They helped end Mondale's political career with their slanted coverage.

Yet, when Mondale urges a unilateral attack against North Korea's missile installation, all of a sudden the man from Minnesota is newsworthy again. And what was not newsworthy? The fact that, during all the years when the Administration refused to engage in direct negotiations with North Korea - claiming it would "interfere" with multiparty talks - those other parties were pleading with them to negotiate one-on-one with the North Koreans.

Refuse to avert a crisis through diplomacy? Not newsworthy. A forgotten politician's suggestion that we respond to the resulting crisis with an act of war? Newsworthy. And as for those anti-missile defense initiatives - "Star Wars" etc. - that we've heard so much about, it turns out in a crunch that they're not worth a damn. (subscription may be required)

Shortsighted liberal commentators like blogger Matt Yglesias don't help, either. Yglesias argues that having less than ten companies monopolize the nation's media content still leaves us with all the competition the country needs.

Leaving aside what should be the evident absurdity of the argument (how could one media conglomerate for every 30 million Americans represent unfettered competition?), Yglesias and others of like mind overlook the underlying forces that impel each of the ten to behave exactly the same way when it comes to sharing information with the American people.

Sure, occasionally reporters write breaking stories, and do brave work. The New York Times, LA Times, and Wall Street Journal just broke the story of illegal bank record searches. That doesn't disprove the existence of this loose conspiracy of "shared values" and common interests. It only proves that the "conspiracy" is informal, which we already know, and that some reporters and editors have the principles to pursue a story of illegal spying.

(I'd still like to know why the New York Times sat on the NSA spying story until after the election, though. It seems as if the "conspiracy of shared values" becomes most overt when the stakes are highest.)

Dwight Eisenhower was no "conspiracy nut," and he was no extremist. The network of interests he described has grown and thrived, and has brought the mass media under its umbrella.

Jamison Foser is right. The political story of our times is the media. Yes, their biased and GOP-friendly coverage is partly the result of laziness, fear, and Inside-The-Beltway coziness. But behind that is a greater story - of interlocking boards, shared financial fates, and a web of shared values and mutual interests that has managed to change the course of history.

The Eisenhower quote I used in my review of "Why We Fight" now applies as much to the media as it does to the other parts of the military/industrial complex:

"(Their) total influence - economic, political, even spiritual - is felt in every city, every state house, every office of the Federal government ... In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence ....We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes."

Is anybody listening?

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