By Hazel Henderson
• In the USA, founders feared concentration of power in government. They installed separation of powers in the US Constitution—-buttressed by freedom of the press. The very first Amendment reinforced this free media which became known as “the Fourth Branch” of US democracy.
Today, two new threats have emerged: 1): political interference with press freedom by intimidation, propaganda from both foreign powers and domestic interest groups, advertising, planting fake news, trolling online and mainstream media using “bots” and big data analytics.
Crusading media experts’ reports, such as Jacques Ellul’s classic Propaganda (1968), Marshall McLuhan’s The Medium is the Message (1964) on the power of advertising and television and Ben Bagdikian’s The Media Monopoly (1983) all warned us of the accelerating merger and consolidation of control of US and global media. Today the 50 owners of 90% of US media described by Bagdikian is down to six! The takeover of media ownership now controls most of the news and information the public sees, hears, reads and accesses online by media titans Disney, Comcast, Time-Warner, Murdoch, CBS-Viacom, as well as, Facebook, Google, Twitter and the dark arts of big data, such as Cambridge Analytica, as well as financial hedge fund “quants”.
All these giants of our “mediocracies” are steered by big finance, such as hedge fund kingmaker Robert Mercer, funder of the Trump campaign, Breitbart, Steve Bannon and Kellyanne Conway. Funders include the Koch brothers, Sheldon Adelson and others on the right wing described by Jane Mayer in “Dark Money” (2016), and smaller players on the left, such as George Soros.
In my “Mediocracies and Their Attention Economies” (2017), I described this new form of government overlooked by most political and social scientists which I first documented in my “Building A Win Win World” (1996) now an e-book. Media control as a favorite government strategy for power is well-know and common from Putin’s Russia to Mugabe’s Zimbabwe.
– – –
Hazel Henderson, D.Sc.Hon., FRSA, CEO, of Ethical Markets Media, also founded the EthicMark® Awards for Advertising That Uplifts The Human Spirit In Society, 2017