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Mumia Abu-Jamal's Radio Broadcasts

The Kindergarten Campaign


Short Version: mp3, 2.35 MBs, 2:56

Long Version: mp3, 3.80 MBs, 4:44

[Col. Recorded 10/2/04]

It is virtually impossible to view the present U.S. presidential campaign, and not leave with a sinking feeling for the future of the country, and indeed, the world as well.

One wonders, looking at the pale performances of both major presidential candidates, is this the best that can be marshaled in a nation of 300 million people?

What is striking, when one plumbs beneath the thin skins, is the similarities between both candidates of the corporate parties. Neither one of them can even remotely be called 'anti-war.' Neither one of them mentions, much less really engages the concerns
facing millions of people who are working-class, or poor.

One would think that the only people who matter are "middle-class", for that is the group which receives most of the candidates' attention. At one point at the Washington University 'debate', Democrat John Kerry would say, without a moment's hesitation, that the three richest people in the hall were on the stage: President George W. Bush, himself, and the network anchor, Charles Gibson, (of ABC) all of whom were in one of the highest percentile tax brackets.

I wondered, how could he be so confident? How did he know this? And then it dawned on me that he could've said the same thing virtually anywhere, and it would still be true: it's the nature of the game.

Who's in the US Senate, but, for the most part, millionaires? Who else could afford such campaigns? Who are network anchors, but extremely well-heeled people, who make more than $200,000 a year? It was a guess, but one based upon an understanding of the US wealth structure.

This is not to say that there's no difference between both candidates — there are. But their similarities are based upon their class position; whom they serve. That doesn't change.

There is a reason why US elections are so narrow, so class-closed, so insular. The corporate media, which makes a killing by selling commercial time, allocates its news time to those candidates which don't really threaten their own commercial interests.
They deal in generalities, in simple themes, in trends. In a word, every election, big and small, is just a horse race.

Complex ideas, deep and serious questions, are mere obstructions to a more important goal: the bottom line. Let's not forget that the media business is, after all, a business.

This is not just the case when it comes to presidential, or national elections. This trend holds in local elections as well.

In 1995, University of Pennsylvania Communications professor, Phyllis Kaniss, published *The Media and the Mayor's Race* (Indianapolis: Indiana Univ. Press,
1995), an examination of the failure of urban political reporting. She documented
how broadcast companies, in a rush to cut costs, and improve profits, intentionally
'dumbed down' political reporting, by getting rid of experienced, better educated, and
higher-paid reporters, to bring in younger, lower-paid, and lesser-educated pretty faces.
Kaniss writes, of the 1991 Philly Mayor's race:

It would be a campaign in which television played an unprecedented role,
as more and more Philadelphians turned to local newscasts for information. But it would also be a time when local stations were cutting staff, trading in experienced veterans for lower-salaried newcomers, and turning away from the kind of news that consultants claimed didn't sell: stories about politics and government. If candidates couldn't supply the drama and emotion of a five-year-old's murder by a drive-by shooter or the ultrasimplified prescriptions of a consumer or health report, then they were not going to be
seen much on television news in 1991. [pp. 16-17]

News, like everything else, is just another commodity; reporters are but mere packaging. Why should communications differ from politics? Check out the debates. Packaging. If you turned down the sound, your mind would provide the insipid dialogue: 'less filling' or 'tastes great!' Packaging. Whatever happened to democracy.

Copyright 2004 Mumia Abu-Jamal


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Text © copyright 2003 by Mumia Abu-Jamal.
All rights reserved.
Reprinted by permission of the author.