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‘Freedom of the Press’ Is Why Smiley/West Poverty Tour Failed

Tavis Smiley and Cornel West attempted something very honorable this month, to take a big bus tour of the U.S. and try to put poverty and the poor into a national spotlight. It was an interesting and media-genic (if that’s a word) tour:

Having travelled to nine states and eighteen cities in just under two weeks, the Poverty Tour, like a communal “Love Train” (to quote the O’Jays), left its church-packed participants with the stories of families and young people struggling to find jobs. While facing homelessness, cuts (or coming cuts) in federal assistance, and a new social status (from middle-class to poor), these people shared a common story in the tearful frustration that their education and job experience had not saved them from social disaster.

They slept among the homeless, visited with white, black and native American families in provocative settings, but, hey, their tour was mostly ignored by the big, mainstream media. It failed.

The mainstream media is the corporate media, and their big corporate owners wanted August to be deficit hysteria month. And it was deficit hysteria month. They succeeded.

This is our media reality, and IT IS KILLING THIS COUNTRY. But something that never gets much discussion or play is a solution to the everlasting nightmare:

We need to free the mass media from capitalist control and disperse it among different democratically elected factions of popular opinion.

As I added in that comment, of course the solution is impossible. But it’s impossible in part because no one ever talks about it. To hell with TINA on this corporate-owned mass media.

Not that the corporate-owned politicians and electoral system isn’t an equal or even greater problem, but even with publicly financed elections the popular will would still contend with massive resistance by the corporate-controlled mainstream media. It would still ignore issues that matter to the great mass of us (i.e., poverty), and blast away at us with their huge megaphones, promoting the handing over of more of our wealth to the rich (i.e., deficit hysteria). 

Okay, technically, yeah, my solution violates our Supreme Court’s interpretation of the Constitution’s First Amendment. But so does public financing of elections or any sort of control over campaign finances. What does that tell you about our established way of interpreting the Constitution?

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