Ethics and Media Paper

Chomsky (“Introduction” 1) stresses the importance of the press and identifies its three constituents: services broadcasting, webcasting as well as printing services. The concerned stakeholders are the state authorities, the general public, and the corporate sector. He further argues that the structure of the state, as well as the business community, differs from that of the general public (“Introduction” 1) and that there is a conflict between the latter two groups, and the media bears the responsibility for fueling the discord. He further states that the media has a role in the corporate sector and that the press itself is corporate. Its purpose is selling products to the market, and this implies gaining audience for other businesses or advertisers as well. The content of the media must, therefore, satisfy the interests of the buyers and sellers, and this idea forms the basis of the press bias. This essay seeks to examine Chomsky’s critique of the media in the United States of America, and the primary focus is on the bias.

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Chomsky criticizes the media for having a status of corporate nature, and he argues that there is no "socialist or laborite media" (“Introduction” 1-2). He thus claims that the media does not portray or advocate for the truth, but it does serve the interests of the proprietors and related people. He also states that business interests have taken control of the radio and television stations in the United States of America, and the same is the case in the electronic media. He blames the media for playing a partisan role in the 2000 United States elections. In such a way, he brings out the bias by claiming that the press has failed to mobilize the common people and has only concentrated its campaign on the corporate sector and the wealthy (“Introduction” 1-2). As a consequence, only half of the population has participated in the electoral process. Voting was correlated with income, and, thus, the election turned out to be unfair and served the interests of the wealthy. The election, therefore, exposed the media’s bias against the workers. Hence, Chomsky was rational in his argument.

Besides the campaign issue, Chomsky also scoffs at the media’s support of the neo-liberal changes, which favor the business class while disregarding the fate of the ordinary workers. He claims that the business people and the elite media support the development of a corporate-led globalization and free trade agreements, which will lead to the concentration of money and power in the hands of a few people. The trend violates the wishes of the general public, and the media such, as the Wall Street Journal, are not taking any initiatives to protect the interests of the majority Americans. Instead, they are watching as the collateral damage persists (“Introduction” 2). This issue, therefore, exposes the media as an enemy to the general public and a friend to the rich minority.

In addition, Chomsky criticizes the media for treating public with contempt and perceiving them as outcasts while exalting the wealthy and the political class. For instance, the media favors the domination of wealth and business opportunities. However, this trend is undesirable as it locks out the majority Americans from participating in the economy. The author provided an example of remarks made by Walter Lippmann, who was the most famous and influential journalist of the 20th Century. The reporter openly disregarded the general public and mentioned that the public was ignorant, and an outsider who should have been acting as a spectator was indeed participating in actions and decisions. The author refers to the business people as the “responsible people” who can provide “technocratic insulation” of the country (“Introduction” 4; “Force and Opinion” 1-2). Walter’s remarks reveal the rot not only in him, but also in the media system. These claims, therefore, validate Chomsky’s argument that the press executes its duties in a partisan manner.

Chomsky also accuses the media of abandoning its role of serving the public and instead concentrating on helping the business world. He perceives this trend as the cause of the replacement of the public arena by neo-liberalism, which supports the private concentration of power (“Introduction” 4). Instead of proclaiming the problems of the society, the media focuses on advertising products for the corporate clients as well as campaigning for the political interests. Edward Bernays, the author of the book known as propaganda, provides a good example for this case. In the 1920s he led a campaign that motivated women to start smoking and he had a great impact on the corporate mass media (“What Makes Mainstream” 5-6). This case depicts the media as puppets of the industrialists as it concentrates on pleasing them by marketing their products while disregarding the public.

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Chomsky (“Introduction” 5) also reprimands the media for playing a passive role in the state and thus praising the government’s actions, which are obliviously insignificant for the public. He cites the case of the New York Times political commentator who applauded Clinton’s "creative compromise" in the Middle East, which meant sponsoring Israel’s attempt to attack Palestine. The New York Times never talked about or called for actions that would make Clinton appear as a statesman. Additionally, the media never criticized Clinton’s as well as her predecessor’s sponsoring of Israel to aggress against Palestine. The consequent occupation and annexation of the West Bank was not adequately questioned either. The author further criticizes the media for not judging Clinton’s provision of military equipment to Israel, which would allow to attack Palestinian civilians as well as leaders. As a matter of fact, this decision was praised by the New York Times (“Introduction” 5). Therefore, these actions prove Chomsky right in his attack of the media.

The presence of the elite media depicts the discriminatory tendencies of the press (“What Makes Mainstream” 1). For instance, the New York Times and the CBS target the privileged people. Such media are the agenda setters, and they control the way other media act by the virtue of having vast resources. The readers of the New York Times are the wealthy or the political class, which dictates what the political system should look like. The target population represents the managers in the politics, business, journalism, etc. These are the people who determine the behavior of the rest of the Americans. The elite media controls other less popular media. For instance, in the news aired by the Associated Press in the midday, the viewers experience breaks in which the television company issues a notice to the editors showing the contents of the next day’s New York Times. Given the influence that the paper has, the rest of the articles try to cover the same story so that they remain meaningful. As a result, it may be concluded that the New York Times controls other press companies. Thus, all the aired information must be aligned with the interests of this corporation as well as the corporate class in general (“What Makes Mainstream” 1). Other media that may try to defy, for instance, the San Jose Mercury News always find themselves in trouble (“What Makes Mainstream” 2). These evidence, therefore, validates Chomsky’s attack on the media, too.

Chomsky also hints that the media diverts people’s minds by letting them do anything but bother the media owners. The media concentrate on serious issues that affect the political class, while the ordinary people can also find interest in some less relevant matters, such as sports, celebrities, and other trivial topics (“What Makes Mainstream” 2). By focusing on such less significant issues, the media control the interests of the general public by keeping them entertained. Thus, they rarely have room to think about the failures of the press. The reason behind this development is that some of the media houses belong to large corporations that seek to dominate the American economy. Additionally, it is interesting that such large media companies as the New York Times do not sell their newspapers, but instead post them for free on the Internet. The aim of this action is to sell themselves to the large audience by making people access the content quickly and thus indoctrinating them to the culture desired by the corporate class.

In conclusion, the media is a critical part of everyday life, as it serves the members of the public, the state as well as the business sector. However, political and commercial control of the media is diverting its role from a servant of all stakeholders to a puppet of the wealthy and the powerful. In fact, ordinary citizens should be in charge, but their interests have been left unattended. It is this development that prompts Chomsky in his three articles to condemn the media for disregarding the general population. There are many other reasons why he condemns the press. The support of liberalism, contempt for the public as a whole, pleasing of the corporate sector, the presence of the elite media, and the diversion of people’s minds are some of them. Regarding the abovementioned issues, the media has failed greatly and therefore Chomsky has valid reasons to criticize its actions.

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