CommunityFDL Main Blog

Elephant Pimples

elephantpimple.jpgIt looks like Dan Rather’s lawsuit against CBS has emboldened another member of the Retired Anchors Club to express his solidarity, and oh-by-the-way take some shots at his former employer:

Calling the ouster of Dan Rather from CBS News in 2006 a “travesty,” newsman Ted Koppel said today that he hopes the $70 million suit filed by Mr. Rather against CBS and Viacom will bring Mr. Rather “relief from his [emotional] pain.”


Mr. Koppel also spoke about the difficulties that network news departments face as parts of media conglomerates. Speaking of his former employer, he said, “ABC News is a pimple on the elephant’s behind”—the elephant being ABC parent Walt Disney Co.

Explaining the remark later to TelevisionWeek, Mr. Koppel said he first realized how small ABC News was in relation to Disney as a whole some years ago when he was flipping through the annual report and saw that he was many, many pages into it before ABC News received a mention.

The dilemma stems from the fact that the media giants are primarily entertainment companies and thus have to make money, Mr. Koppel said.

Unfortunately, Disney isn’t the only elephant that ABC is a butt-pimple on. Kos diarist McCamy Taylor offers up some reasons why:

With the death of Walt Disney, the creative mind behind the Mouse empire, Disney had only one thing going for it—-copyright laws. It had all the characters that Uncle Walt had created. Mickey, Donald, Pluto, Daffy. It had the old classic movies, which it could recycle every few years to a new crop of children. With the advent of VHS and DVD technology, it would sell tickets and copies of its movies and the spin off programming from those movies and the merchandising and fill its cable channel with television shows based upon characters that it owned the copyrights to. The only problem was that copyrights were not forever. The exclusive rights to Mickey were ready to expire early in the 21st century….

Guess which 2000 candidate was more sympathetic to the idea of perpetual copyright? Taylor gives us a hint:

Just last week, Vice-President Al Gore said “we can’t have the creation of an Information Rich and Information Poor.”

Taylor goes on to describe Disney’s concerns about “a la carte” cable, which Republicans and FCC Chair Kevin Martin were pushing as a means to eliminate Teh Naughty… until Disney Co-CEO Robert Iger had a little chat with Martin at a convention. K-Mart suddenly remembered how much he loved the free market, and three months later, ABC started production on “Path To 9/11.”

This all speaks to a larger point that I’ve been making for the last seven months: News outlets are little tiny cogs in giant corporate machines whose business interests far outweigh ratings and news revenue, much less truth and objectivity. GE (NBC) is a defense contractor which benefits from endless war; Viacom (CBS) is a vast media empire which requires lax ownership rules to stay together; News Corp. (Fox) is another vast media empire, and (bonus!) is owned by a right-wing loon.

In short, Republican rule is far more profitable to the media’s parent companies than the best and most exciting news programming on Earth could ever be, so that’s what they strive for. Their primary objective is not good journalism, not even ratings, but simply to do all they can to get Republicans elected… without making it too obvious.

That’s why their relationship with the right-wing “Liberal bias!” screamers isn’t really adversarial at all – it’s symbiotic. Those accusations provide valuable cover, so that whenever the media get busted shilling for Republicans, they just chuckle with mock exasperation and say that they’re getting it from both sides, so they must be doing their job.

And they are.

(hat tips to Pach & Marcy for the Kos diary and media ownership charts)

Previous post

Southern Baptist's Richard Land vs. Daddy D over Fred Thompson

Next post

Who Owns the UN's Computer Systems?