Public First Program


Shane Elson


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April 2008 # 4

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Back to Editorials 2008

Tom, GE and Bush

About this time five years ago NBC current affairs anchor, Tom Brokaw, always one to ask the "tough" questions, got an exclusive - one on one - interview with George Bush. It was revealing in a number of ways.

Firstly, NBC is owned by General Electric. Of course, GE not only try and ensure that you can make your cuppa in the morning or cook the toast just right, they also try and ensure that your multimillion dollar armaments are delivered to their targets. To warm them up a bit I suppose. GE also owns 13 major TV stations in the top 13 markets in the States.

Also of interest is NBC joining in with the other major US broadcasters to enter into a similar process as the major players here have done with our governments. That is, they want to see a relaxation of broadcast laws. Currently in the US no one broadcaster is allowed to reach more than 35% of the population. Also, there are fairly heavy regulatory constraints regarding how many media outlets one owner can control in any given population centre. Furthermore, the big players want laws changed that would allow them to own newspapers in the same area as their broadcast outlets and they want bans on radio station ownership lifted as well.


I nice little wish list … from the company that Tom Brokaw works for.


Next is the question of political donations. Now, under US law donations to political parties have to be declared. But, as always with the law, there are ways around this. Thus the creation of "soft" donations. These are a little harder to track but, nonetheless reasonable estimates can be made. It's therefore interesting to note that GE - who owns NBC, who employs Tom Brokaw, put US$1.9m into the "elect George Bush" fund in 2000 but that's about ½ of the soft money they are estimated to have contributed to that campaign overall.

I wonder if the favour was returned by way of the "exclusive" interview. But that would be a conspiracy theory I suppose. Of course we all know that (wink wink, nudge nudge) no owner EVER interferes with the workings of their media outlets. Never ever.

The next revealing thing about this interview is a comment by Bush himself.

Now, remember that we have here the President of the United States being interviewed by a man who is employed by a company that is owned by one of the major suppliers of US weapons of mass destruction and/or the means to deliver them (of course we wont talk about GE's ongoing push to nuclearise the world's power grids). So here they are, above the clouds on Air Force One and George lets this one slip. The set up is like this.

Tom asks Bush why he went early on bombing Iraq. Bush reveals, for the first time, that the CIA had a “mole” on the ground in Baghdad who told them that Saddam and his two sons would be in a certain place at a certain time. “Hot metal” death rained on Baghdad that very night. The CIA “guy on the ground”, says George the Lesser, reported that, after the bombing, “He felt like we got Saddam”.

“He felt like we got Saddam”. Did I miss something here? He felt like ...?

This war was going to be the most high tech, low “collateral damage” war in history. It was going to be fought by the best trained, most well equipped and highly organised fighting force on earth. This was a war predicated on “weapons of mass destruction” and regime change. This was war based, we were told on cold, hard facts. Yet, here is the man who rules the world telling us his “man on the ground” felt like “we got Saddam”.

Did Tom Brokaw question this? Did he ask the President to explain how he now responds to his critics? No. Tom didn't pursue the obvious question, “Mr. President, you say your man on the ground felt OK. What about those who we know got killed? How does he feel about them?”

No, Brokaw was playing the role so much of the media has continued to play in this war. The role of not questioning and pursuing the truth from those who have set themselves up (with lots of help from their cronies) as leaders of the free world. Tom did get a response from Bush as to how he felt about the deaths his orders caused. Bush said he felt bad about it and that sometimes being President was a lonely job, but it had to be done. Of course Tom didn't ask Bush if he felt the same way about the inmates he signed execution orders for when he was Governor of Texas. No history for this man of wisdom.

What does this all mean? Good question. In part it might be understood as just the ongoing side show to the real point of the war - to gain access to the second largest oil reserves in the Middle East; to recreate the Iraqi state as Iraq Inc and to fill the coffers of some of the largest military suppliers in the world with tax payer’s money to fund the creation of even more weapons of mass destruction to be dropped on more innocent civilians. 


Of course Tom would never see himself in the role of hiding Osama would he? I mean Osama is harder to find than Wally, that colourful little cartoon character. Whatever happened to Osama and the quest for ridding the world of terrorists? Or the quest to bring peace and democracy to Afghanistan? Lost in the rush to hide the use of illegal weapons like cluster bombs.

I guess while GE and other multinational corporations (and lets remember that only five corporations produce about 60% (based on income share) of all media output in the world) continue to dominate the minds of men and women through the images and distortions they present as news, then there is little possibility of real liberation for any of us.

If our leaders are guided by how someone feels rather than by the material evidence that surrounds them, what hope have we got. Some, I would argue.

As long as there are those who are prepared to speak out, to seek the evidence and to find ways of getting that out to others, there will always be hope.

So while Bush and others continue to base their decisions to kill, main and execute innocent men, women and children on feelings, and while the leader of this (almost) great country continues to support him and no doubt his successor, then I for one will continue to oppose, critique and expose as best I can, the lies they perpetrate, but not in my name.

But, then again they might find Osama before long. (Inside tip - he, Elvis and Wally are guarding the WMD in Syria.)

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