William S. Lear rael at
Wed Aug 18 12:19:09 PDT 1999

On Wednesday, August 18, 1999 at 10:30:30 (-0400) Doug Henwood writes:
>C. G. Estabrook wrote:
>>The publisher's blurb for McChesney's book says that he "argues that the
>>media have become a significant anti-democratic force in the United
>>States, and, to varying degrees, worldwide...."
>My only problem with this is the "have become," which implies that
>they once weren't. When were they ever pro-democratic? This argument
>often leads to another (implied and unexamined) nostalgia for the
>days of local ownership, as opposed to today's conglomeratization.
>Are we nostalgic for Hearst? Do we hold up small-town newspapers,
>which usually seem like promotional sheets for local car dealers and
>realtors, as a model?

Well, depends on your historical time-scale, and what you mean by "the media", doesn't it? If you mean the corporate media, then "have become" is wrong, but if you mean the entire media, including once lively labor newspapers and independent radio programs, which have all but disappeared from mass circulation, then I don't find it terribly misleading. Chomsky and Herman note this deterioration at the beginning of their book *Manufacturing Consent*. The labor newspapers may have been ugly in all sorts of ways, but hey, at least it was the voice of (some of) the working volk, was it not, Doug?

Of course, McChesney is well-known as the author of another outstanding book, *Telecommunications, Mass Media, & Democracy: The Battle for Control of U.S. Broadcasting, 1928--1935* (Oxford University Press, 1993), which looks backward quite a way for the undemocratic slant, so I wouldn't blame him so much as the book-jacket-blurb ad folks for the misleading blurb.


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