Alibi V.14 No.9 • March 3-9, 2005 

Thin Line

Inventory. Which is more remarkable: The mainstream corporate media's current state of disarray or the mainstream corporate media's cluelessness of their own precipitous decline?

Imagine if the White House, during Bill Clinton's presidency, gave a press pass to a fake reporter and then frequently called on this phony, who was using an alias and representing a bogus Democratic Party news agency—a fella who it turns out also owned websites promoting gay prostitution and was a gay escort himself. If this happened during Clinton's tenure, do you think the scandal would have been featured front page news in the Albuquerque Journal for days? I do. Can you imagine a 24-7 exposé on Fox News, headlines at USA Today and the nightly TV news, while cable talk shows and talk radio went berserk to the point the scandal threatened his entire presidency? I can. The House Republican leaders would have been calling for a Kenneth Starr inquisition and the word “impeach” would have been echoing in the halls of Capitol Hill. Minimally, Clinton's press secretary would have been fired and probably taken a few key White House advisors along with her, and rightfully so.

In the Bush administration, this scandal actually happens and the corporate media barely notices. Instead more than a month after this disgraceful tale has been told by bloggers, the mainstream corporate media has yet to ask: Who planted "Jeff Gannon" in the front row at the president's press conference and allowed this guy to posit GOP propaganda while pretending to be a credible journalist?

As Paul Harris, media critic for the New York Observer, wrote last week, thanks to the work of bloggers, Gannon's "softball questions to White House officials looked less like eccentricities and more like plotting by an administration which has frequently displayed a dark mastery of the arts of press control."

Harris must be referring to the recent revelations that the Bush administration paid Armstrong Williams, a syndicated columnist, a quarter million taxpayer dollars to push propaganda on his audience during the election. The list of columnists on the White House's payola list is now at four and counting. Then there is the censure brought by a federal government oversight committee that has warned the Bush administration against using actors to pose as fake journalists in bogus news reels, such as the Medicaid commercials the White House produced a few years ago. In other words, federal oversight officials have told the Bush administration to stop lying to the public.

But will they? No. And if the corporate media continues to enable the Bush administration lies, bloggers will surpass them and every tired old corporate news hack might as well die at his desk and nobody will ever notice. That's where the mainstream media is heading, and the folks at corporate headquarters, amazingly, don't even know it.

Obituary. A couple months back, 103.3 The Zone, self-described as “New Mexico's alternative” disappeared into the vapors of corporate radio accounting and was replaced by Fred-FM, playing music “that we like,” with a slightly more refined but still decidedly karaoke vibe to it. Not to be outdone by Citadel Communications (Fred's owners), folks at Clear Channel recently dropped the hammer on 104.1 World Class Rock, which might fairly have been described as modern karaoke classics, in favor of the new “Latino and proud” 104.1 hip-hop and today's R&B format. The funeral's baked meats did coldly furnish forth the wedding tables.