Sunday, October 02, 2005

Polemic: RFK Jr. Cuts Loose

The no-holds-barred speech by Robert F. Kennedy Jr. at the Sierra Summit in San Francisco, sponsored by the Sierra Club, is all over the blogosphere. Its focus is the environment, and the depredations wrought by President Bush. But RFK also turns on the generally supine America media and, by implication, on the remarkably passive public:

The [network] news departments have become corporate profit centers. They no longer have any obligation to benefit the public interest; their only obligation is to their shareholders, and they fulfill that obligation by increasing viewership. How do you do that? Not by reporting the news that we need to hear to make rational decisions in our democracy but, rather, by entertaining us, by appealing to the prurient interests that all of us have in the reptilian core of our brain for sex and celebrity gossip. [applause] So they give us Laci Peterson and Michael Jackson and Kobe Bryant, and today we're the best-entertained and the least-informed people on the face of the earth. This is a real threat to American democracy.

I love that line I boldfaced. But there's more:

...We have a negligent and indolent media and press in this country which has absolutely let down American democracy. [applause] All this rightwing propaganda, which is planned and organized and has dominated this country, the political debate for so many years is talking about a liberal media. Well, you know and I know that there is no such thing as a liberal media in the United States of America. There is a rightwing media, and if you look for where most Americans are now getting their news, that's where they're getting it. According to Pew, 30 percent of Americans now say that their primary news source is talk radio, which is 90 percent dominated by the right. Twenty-two percent say their primary news source is Fox News, MSNBC, or CNBC, all dominated by the right, and another 10 percent, Sinclair Network, which is the most rightwing of all. That's the largest television network in our country. It's run by a former pornographer who requires that all 75 of his affiliate television stations -- and this is where Midwesterners get their news, where red-state people get their news -- that all of them have to take a pledge not to report critically about this President or about the war in Iraq.

I am sure many exaggerations and inaccuracies will be found, but the speech sets a standard for Democratic rhetoric that's likely to be with us for a while, and it's worth reading in its entirety: http://www.sierraclub.org/pressroom/rfkspeech/. - CD
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