Guest Post: The Fatal Timidity Of The Corporate Media

Tyler Durden's picture

Submitted by Charles Hugh Smith from Of Two Minds

The Fatal Timidity of the Corporate Media

Want to reverse the decline of the media? then stop worshipping corporate profits and start worshipping skepticism and a strong voice for truth, however inconvenient it might be to the Status Quo.

Lost in all the hand-wringing over the corporate (mainstream) media's decline is a key cause of the decline: the MSM no longer publishes or airs anything that challenges the Status Quo. The timidity of the corporate media knows no bounds. The iconic Washington Post now makes its corporate bread off its ownership of a diploma mill of the sort that it should deplore.

Choose the phrase your prefer to describe this: bought off, sold out, compromised.

In web-based corporate media, "journalism" has been distilled down to churning out lists: the 11 best cities to do your $50 million IPO in, the 9 most adorable dog breeds, 7 reasons why we hate corporate web-based media (you'll never see that list), etc.

The print media has always lived off advertising
. What's changed is the overt slavishness of the media toward its advert masters.

If you flip through a corporate mainstream media publication from the late 1960s, for example LIFE magazine, you will see plenty of adverts. But you will also see uncompromising stories about alternative lifestyles, about demonstrators against the Status Quo being beaten, arrested and thrown in temporary gulags, and other stories which bluntly called the entire machinery of the Status Quo into question.

The deal was this: the media was relevant, so people wanted to read it. Advertisers who wanted to reach this audience had to suck it up and advertise regardless of whether they approved of the content.

A near-monopoly certainly aided the corporate media pre-cable TV and Internet: there were a handful of national print media outlets, two big newspapers per major city, a town newspaper in smaller burgs, and three national TV networks. Advertisers had little choice about where to place their advert dollars.

Now that advertisers have a vast spectrum of choice, they have the upper hand. The media outlets have to sell their audience to advertisers: please give us money, because our audience is huge, or targeted, and oh yes, in all cases special.

The media, corporate and non-traditional alike, could count on subscriptions to pay the basic bills. No more. "Free" content is of course not free: somebody has to pay the electricity bills for the servers and the staff to post the content, even if it's skimmed from other sites.

In a world of "free" content, why pay for content? Why indeed? There are two reasons: 1) loyalty to the voice provided by the magazine, channel, radio station, newspaper, blog, etc. In some cases, this might be the loyalty of those who love to hear their own views confirmed on a routine basis: the "true believers."

In other cases, the loyalty is for "telling it like it is," even if the positions don't always align with the readers' own views.

Reason Two is that the publication/channel/station is indispensible: everyone who is anyone reads it/watches it/listens to it.

What makes a media outlet indispensible? One, it is skeptical about received wisdom and official explanations, and two, it has a strong and unique voice. Please tell me there is any corporate media that meets these standards. Perhaps on a good day, here and there, but consistently? No.

The "liberal" media parrots the same old tiresome Keynesian blather that we need to borrow another $10 trillion, oh heck, make it $20 trillion or $100 trillion, because we need to pay our teachers and cops a living wage, unions are the backbone of the country, all we need to do is tax the top 1% and all our problems will be solved, etc.

The "conservative" media parrots the same old tiresome corporate welfare blather that we need a strong defense, never mind the cost, cutting taxes is the solutions to all our problems, so while we wait for that magic to work we have to borrow another $10 trillion, oh heck, make it $20 trillion or $100 trillion, and government shouldn't be intrusive unless it's enforcing our standards on everyone else, and then Central State tyranny is "morally necessary."

All corporate media reprints Central State propaganda with only the faintest mewling skepticism. You want an example? The media broadcast or headline blares: "Unemployment down as economy recovers."

If there was any skepticism left, and even the faintest shred of principled devotion to truth, the headline should read "Government spins unemployment numbers again, keeps pushing propaganda." We all know that's the reality, the truth, that the unemployment statistics are doctored, tweaked and massaged to play the same message again and again: "unemployment" is down, never mind it's because we removed 4 million people from the workforce; the economy is recovering because if you stop believing that, you might rise up against the Status Quo.

The corporate media is fatally timid because it's running scared. The focus is on profits that must be made and shipped to restive shareholders and managers, and on keeping a job to pay the mortgage.

The grand irony is the solution to decline is to stand for something other than corporate profits. Have you read what passes for "editorials" in the corporate media? The same old cliches are trotted out, the same bland milktoast "positions" that mean nothing, say nothing, signify nothing but complicity and surrender: the government should keep spending until we get out of recession, or the government should spend responsibly, blah blah blah.

In other words, let's play "journalism" not as if it mattered, but as a game where the "winners" attract more eyeballs and clicks with eye-catching lists and low-cut blouses, and snagging adverts is the only real goal.

Yes, there are adverts on this very blog. But I don't cater to whomever is paying Google to place their adverts; the adverts are displayed based on your preferences as much as on the content of today's entry. I don't change the content based on whether I get adverts or not. Nothing is "free," and somebody is paying the bills somewhere. The adverts help, but they have zero influence over the content. If they went away the content would slog on because it's what's important, and what counts.

I pay for subscriptions to various independent magazines, and donate to support independent blogs and online publications, because my money is a "vote" for skeptical, investigative media. If I don't "vote" for that kind of media, it will fade, because there is no such thing as "free." The home office has to be paid for, the servers must be paid for, the time must be compensated in a way that the "content producer" can buy groceries and trips to the dentist, etc.

But the way to build loyalty is to stand for something, not just repeat government propaganda and tired cliches that were drained of all meaning a generation ago.

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LawsofPhysics's picture

Yep, regardless of what side of the isle the talking head is on their speech always ends the same way.  "We must raise the debt ceiling and sacrifice more of our children's future."

Fuck them both. 

max2205's picture

ZH to MSM to Drudge down to Alex Jones. Choose your posion. I read much less these days to keep a clear head

baby_BLYTHE's picture

I also find that to be good advice. ZH is pretty much the only site I spend more than 20 minutes on anymore, Tyler covers the news with more depth than just about anyone else.

Hilarious Alex Jones clip (shot my morning coffee through my nose):

Josh Randall's picture

Propaganda = been working since God was a little boy

TaxSlave's picture

The '60's were the heyday of independent journalism?

Bull.  The media have always, always 'framed' issues in terms of advocacy of one or the other of two false choices.  In the '60's, they were pushing socialism vs fascism, same as today.   Freedom-oriented publications were almost black-market operations, relegated to obscurity.  The internet has smashed their brick-and-mortar monopoly on thought, wasting their hundred-year investment in public schooling and entertainment as propaganda to keep people churning away on their little treadmills, happily paying for the welfare/warfare state, believing they control their own destiny (as long as they choose the left or right side of the path presented to them).

Good riddance to the bastards.

tired1's picture

The net is the hyper steroid version of Samizdat under the Soviet regime. In the USSR typewriters and copy machines were tightly controlled and info was laboriously copied by hand and passed along. Makes me wonder of what kind of controls the New USSR will come up with to control info.

FWIW, I initially thought that the Ukraine Orange Revolution was a net product. Turns out the cell phones and texting were the means for activist coordination. At the time I was hearted by the change in Ukraine as I am a proponent of limited central control. Turns out I was badly mistaken as the entire thing was a manipulation by Soros and his Open Society shit.

Note to self's picture

Military Industrial Journalism complex.

chunga's picture

When did this distrust of the media begin? Personally, for all practical purposes, when I see something on a television news broadcast I assume it to be false.

One of the few channels I actually watch is the "Military Channel", in particular those on World War II. Towards the end of the war when it became apparent Germany would lose, according to the narrative, the Germans would much prefer to be captured by Americans as opposed to the Soviets.

Granted, there were no Panzer divisions on American soil, so that could logically account for increased animosity from the Soviets and the desire for revenge. 

In no way, shape, or form do I wish to cast aspersions on our WWII vets. I have the utmost respect for them and the sacrifices they made. We Americans were always the "good guys" back then. I believe that. I also have great respect for veterans of modern day wars. Something has changed.

Or did it?

When did that change begin? Why? Who caused it?



Holodomor2012's picture

Something changed in 1913 with the Federal Reserve.  Since that time America has always been on the wrong side in every conflict.  This includes ww2.  I share your respect for our servicemen.  They are brave and their hearts are in the right place.  However, their leadership has lied to them and to us for a century.

The only thing that has changed is the internet.  It is harder to sell the masses false flag attacks and blatant propaganda campaigns.  Harder, but obviously still possible.


tired1's picture

Truely the net has changed much and still has great potential to disperse info. I would recommend the 'Money Masters' for an oversight and Freeman's article 'A Jewish Defector Warns America' for an explanation of the manipulation of American policy.


For myself an awakening began when a Chinese freind ask me - if Japan attacked the US in the Pacific why did the US rush to war against Germany? I had some time on my hands and began to dig.

An interesting book to look at might be 'German Generals Talk" which pertains to Hiler's orders to allow English troops to ecape at Dunkirk even though the Panzers were poised to destry them

SoNH80's picture

Whoa, whoa, whoa!  You're saying that we should have been on the side of the murderous Japanese (who slaughtered millions of Chinese and Koreans, not to mention a *few* Americans at Pearl Harbor) and the muderous Germans (who slaughtered millions of just about every European nationality, including Italians, Greeks, and Spaniards?)  And DON'T start with the Jew-baiting, the Germans were very very efficient at killing "gentile" Europeans from the air, aka the Bombing of Rotterdam in 1940.  And DON'T start with the Stalin angle, Stalin was Hitler's ALLY in 1939-41. 

tired1's picture

Let's see. Fearless leader FDR moves PacFleet from San Diego to Pearl during heightened tensins with Japan and then set the base up for destruction knowing when the attack will occur so that American troops can rush to the aid of the Bolsheviks in Europe. OK. Makes sence to me.

SoNH80's picture

The only countries FDR cared about were the Christian nations friendly to the U.S.-- Britain, France, Benelux, Poland, Denmark, before the war. Honestly, he only really cared about Britain, France, and Holland (his ancestral homeland).  FDR and Churchill gave the Russkies the bare minumum they needed to enable the West to attack German forces in Northwestern Europe successfully.

SoNH80's picture

Yes, and one more thing.  Who invaded Poland on September 1, 1939 from the west?  Hitler or the Jews?  Who attacked Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941?  The Imperial Japanese Navy, or the Jews?  You can't have it both ways.  The West crushed Hitler's & Hirohito's forces, and the world is better for it.  Now, World War One, that's a whole other kettle of fish....

Holodomor2012's picture

Pearl Harbor is a giant question mark.  As for Hitler, that was not our fight.  It was between him and the international jewish plutocrats.


tired1's picture

I read Kahn's book " The Codebreakers" decades ago. At that time the issue of 'Purple' publicly available decripts of Japanese plans were fairly inconclusive. Since that time much info has surfaced as to FDR's complicity in getting the US into the war by military provocation, as was done in 1898 in Cuba with the explosion of the Maine or more recently withthe Gulf of Tonkin by LBJ.

There's much info out there if one cares to look, or one can choose to reamain ignorant such as the guy above that junked me.

SoNH80's picture

Well, Hitler had a beef with: the Poles, the Dutch, the Belgians, the Danish, the French, the English, the Scots, the Welsh, the Italians (eventually), the Serbs, the Russians, the White Russians, the Norwegians, the Greeks, and, uh, well, lots of Germans (anybody who disagreed with him or displeased him, like the crippled and the sick and the retarded), plenty of Austrians (Dolfuss), and yes, Americans and Canadians, Australians, New Zealanders, and South Africans (Boers & English White S.A.'s).  Pretty long list, and the trouble was, Hitler settled his beefs with bombing of military and civilian targets, secret police, mass deportations-- and that's against the native (aka, non-Jewish) populations of Europe!  Hitler offers us nothing but lessons on what NOT to do.  You want a German hero?  I respect the German-Austrian military leadership in World War One, fighting on for 4 years against impossible odds.  The Kaiser was the far more advanced, humane leader in that fight (especially in light of what the Irish went through during that period).  I'm not blind to the EVIL of Stalin, Trotsky, that whole shitty pile of garbage known as the "Communist Party".  But remember this, the Poles kicked Trotsky's dirty Jew ass right over the border in 1920, while Germany lay prostrate and in chaos, with Commies in office in Berlin and Vienna.  Poland, and all of Free Europe, was stabbed in the back by Hitler in 1939, and America was bound to get sucked in to defend their brothers-- the native populations of Christian Europe.

tired1's picture

The larger point behind all of this is: if the US (or any nation's) citizens were aware of the games that were being played in the Great Game by the international stateless banskters using their prostituted pols, would there be support for this nonsense? I have no illusions that there is any hope for improvement to the human condition. In a way it's like being married to some bitch that's aways instigating trouble and then demanding that you defend her honor.

SoNH80's picture

I despise the banksters as much as anyone here, probably far more on a visceral level.  But remember this-- Dolfuss of Austria was a real enemy of the plutocrats, why did Hitler kill him?  Pilsudski was a real enemy of the Commie "Soviet" scum, the ONLY enemy of Lenin to defeat him on the battlefield, in fact, the ONLY military leader in modern history to defeat the Russians, before or since!  So why did Hitler attack Pilsudski's country?  Remember this, Hitler, Stalin, Mussolini, Franco, these assholes were all the SAME THING.  Mussolini LOVED Stalin, and Stalin LOVED Hitler until 1941.  Why?  They were all STATISTS, backed by Big $$$$ interests.  Don't look to WWII Europe for answers, look to Revolutionary America!  Jefferson & Paine are worth 5000 20th Century effete European shithead intellectuals.

tired1's picture

"Don't look to WWII Europe for answers, look to Revolutionary America!"

That was one of my initial points, and repect Washington's Farewell Address and his admonition to be wary of European entanglements. One of the major reasons for the Revolution was, according to Franklin, a quest for economic freedom. England struck back in 1812 and was poised to side with the Confederacy (it was Russia that treatened to interceed on bealf of the North). That US sided with the Allies in WW part one demonstrates that England's monied forces had effectively purcased American polical power. It remains to this day.

As to your earlier points pertaining to Poland, recall that until the Treaty of Versaille that Poland had long been a protectorate of Russia. It's reconstitution and German loss of control of Danzig was a sore point.

The history of Europe would make for an interesting, bloody soap opera. Centuries of inbreeding have left an indelible stain, and the games are far from over.

TheMerryPrankster's picture

The change has been gaining momentum since the CIA was birthed from the OSS, but if you follow the trail of the OSS it goes back to Yale University. At Yale we find Skull & Bones, the secret society that connected the well bred and well off into  a political/business alliance, sort of a  very mini CIA who's purpose was mainly to front run information and make a lot of dough as well as screw over anybody who wasn't Skull & Bones.

Skull and Bones goes back to the mid to late 1800's. The roots were planted then, now we see the fruits of this mutant consuming our nation.

Google "Skull & Bones, CIA"

or read

donis's picture

i vote for change every time i purchase physical gold and silver from my local dealer.

sschu's picture

The MSM is a reflection of the culture which is influenced by the MSM which has been responding to the culture which the MSM is emulating.

We did not get to where we are except thru incremental erosion of rights and responsibilities by everyone.  The really sad fact is there is not a greater outrage about the status of the economy, our government, and the public/private institutions of the country.

IMHO, the question is not so much how this ends, it is what we will rebuild after the crash ensues.  Truth and morality are needed and are in quite short supply right now. 


taketheredpill's picture


The death of media is a result of a lack of Accountability, which people have just started to figure out.


The average person buys a newspaper and assumes that they are the customer, buying a product that is designed to inform them.


However, in any Financial transaction, you have 3 components, A Buyer, A Seller, and a Product.  And the way you identify the Buyer is, they are the one’s paying the $$.


Since ALL newspapers get 80% of revenue (100% in the case of TV “news”) from Corporate Advertisers, they are the REAL Customers (as well as the shareholders) .  And since the Corporate Advertisers don’t actually take delivery of the newspapers, then the newspaper can’t be the REAL product.


The REAL product is us, or our eyeballs anyway. 


So while we’re an important part of the modern media model, it isn’t the way we think.


Because the media is accountable to the advertisers, not the readers, the primary goal is not to inform us, but to make us buy things from the advertisers.


The Internet allows anybody with a blog to become a newspaper that is wholly dependent on contributions from subscribers, 100% accountable on the readers.  And they don’t need a building, printing presses, transmission towers, shareholders etc.


And that’s why the traditional media will die off, unless and until something changes such as “Net Neutrality”.  If Net Neutrality is compromised, the media corporations would be able to simply transfer their advertising driven model onto the internet, something they have been attempting for some time without success.


tired1's picture

Perhaps there's not much new in the nature of corrupted media. Methinks that the alternative - the net is illuminating the shortfalls. Man, I recall wasting hours at libraries trying to track down info. Now it's pretty much just using a dearch engine. It has its' limits and there are certainly dangers, but it is a collaborative effort with few filters at this time.

JR's picture

Wiki says shuckin’ and jivin’ “usually involves clever lies and impromptu storytelling.” So Obama in his town hall meeting today, on why there’s hope in the economy, doesn’t fit this definition.  Lies are there, of course, but the “clever” aspect is missing :

“I think a lot of people just feel like the American dream, the core notion that if you work hard and you act responsibly that you can pass on a better life to your kids and grandkids – a lot of folks aren’t feeling that any more.  And so, that’s why it’s so important for us to focus not only on recovery from recession, but also deal with some of those problems that existed before the recession so that middle class families are able to see their incomes go up, their savings go up, they can retire with dignity and respect, they can send their kids to college.”

Later, he said the recovery had been “uneven.”

How can anyone - an unemployed American, a  wiped-out saver, an inflation-zapped retiree, a bubble-busted investor, a struggling family or debt-ridden college student -  listen to this and say, boy, this makes me feel better?

Maybe Michelle’s cop-killer rapper, Lonnie Rashid Lynn, Jr. (aka “Common”), could handle the economic numbers more honestly. Sarc/on

Bob's picture

FWIW, the only corporate media voice consistently rattling chains, day after day,  on issues ZH holds dear is Dylan Rattigan on MSNBC--too bad so many folks are too desperately invested in their hysterical notions of "left" and "right" to give him the audience he deserves. 

And, of course, there's Taibi every few months at Rolling Stone

baldski's picture

CCCP in the cyrillic alphabet stands for what? The old Union of Soviet Socialist Republics?

They are gone now. CCCP now stands for "Corporate Controlled Conservative Press"!

homersimpson's picture

In your interpretation of CCCP, I will assume the word "conservative" is not describing who runs the mass media, because a good majority of folks that work in the mass media industry (esp. the ones working the news content) heavily lean left..

In other words, just because Fox News leans right doesn't make up for all the other leftist media outlets out there..

Bob's picture

I think the sad thing is that, whether left or right by preference, they are completely owned in their performance of their work by their employers. 

There is no professionalism.  No integrity. 

Even the token transexual is sucking the boss' dick between shows.  For free. 

Sick times indeed.  Liberals are not happy, either. 


divide_by_zero's picture

Follow the Soros money trail, it's not timidity at all but rather all for a common purpose. He now has major influence on over 30 news organizations promoting his crony capitalist ideal state.

Ignatius's picture

Today maybe a half dozen major news outlets.  When I was a boy there were atleast fifty.

The concentration and corporatization of the media has killed its prime directive:  to challenge and inform.  Corporate media giants have a stake in what the news is.  Then just extrapolate this fact with the governmental infiltration by corporate hacks and the picture draws itself.


QEsucks's picture

I used to read WSJ. Rupert Murdoch effectively ended that. This year I "subscribed" to ZH. It's a fine publication. I encourage you to do the same.

YHC-FTSE's picture

...And with various media moguls going on buying sprees around the globe to consolidate their positions, it's bound to get infintely worse.


On the bright side, among the internet and a few worthy news providers, I recommend RT. I had a blast listening to Ian R Crane explain the geopolitical undercurrents today.

(And for a bit of fun for Star Wars fans)

Seymour Butt's picture

I used to subscribe to several magazines, and newspapers over the years. One by one, I stopped reading them. 

It's not the readers that left them. Who wants to read State propaganda. It's like reading the Pravda.

The sooner they disappear, the better.

sgt_doom's picture

Perfect state, Mr. Butt, perfectly stated.

I hear the typical Ameribot blindly and obediently repeat, the Internet is killing the news!

Negative, any and all content left the Corporate Non-media many, many years ago.

When Judy Miller could no longer keep her job at the NY Times (New Whore Times???) of planting false stories for Dick Cheney, she naturally received a high-paying job at the Koch-financed Manhattan Institute.

It's all rigged.

I once asked a young lady in her early thirties, several years back, who happened to be reading The Economist, if she had ever tried to verify any of the numbers she read in that rag?

She laughed and thought I was joking.

But if you can never verify anything, why would you accept it as "the truth"?

tired1's picture

Actuall,.I find the new Pravda a better source than many news sources:

Yen Cross's picture

Funny how 10's are up 7 basis points, yet the dollar is being drilled into the dirt. Must be those CNBS'ers. Slappin the the equity (weath effect) AROUND AND AROUND.

nah's picture

corporate media just makes it easier for thoughtless selfish retards to be right all the time


its populist junk... facebook man of the year lol

velobabe's picture

scary truth. tyler you are my favorite, even if i still don't know what "shorting" means.


TheMerryPrankster's picture

Shorting, means to expose the undergarments of an unsuspecting mark, by pulling his trousers down from behind him. One garment of particular popularity is referred to as "boxer shorts" though few who wear them actually box, this over the years has been truncated to "shorts" and the act of exposing them is "shorting".

They do it all over Wall St., it helps to relieve the tensions and is a great way to break the ice and get to know your co-workers.

TheMerryPrankster's picture

I forgot to mention one variation of this practice, if the mark is not wearing any undergarments and his trousers are pulled down revealing his "natural" state of nudity or being naked, this is referred to as a "naked short" or being in an uncovered position. Many traders find this to be an uncomfortable position, while the more aggressive traders enjoy the added freedom. All in a days good fun on that wild and wacky Wall Street, the original reality program.

Miles Kendig's picture

Some chose to chest that Cog stamp wielded from the alternative space while others chose to wield it.  The life cycle of media that is compressing like those other carbon based markets, with the same kinds of play in play...


TheMerryPrankster's picture

Mass media no longer is meant to disseminate information and opinions, it is merely a tool to propagate propaganda. It is therefore best to repeat the same themes over and over, day after day. When not overtly propgandazizng the viewers, something entertaining and mindless is usually programmed to hold the drones interest until the next propganda cycle begins. Often this is sports or comedy/dramas based on recycled news stories or internet memes and urban legends.

Corporate media will continue no matter how bad the advertising numbers are, because the government intelligence agencies need the eyeballs and they have access to a black budget.

Best advice, turn off the television and disconnect it from the cable box. You might want to keep the cable turned on so you don't alert the proper authorities that you are no longer being programmed to receive. You know that's how they got Bin Laden, no cable and no phone - or at least thats the phoney-ass story they are feeding you in the lame stream corporate media.