Abu-Jamal's Radio Broadcasts
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.
looking at the pale performances of both major presidential candidates,
is this the best that can be marshaled in a nation of 300 million
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.
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.
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.
how broadcast companies, in a rush to cut costs, and improve profits,
'dumbed down' political reporting, by getting rid of experienced,
better educated, and
higher-paid reporters, to bring in younger, lower-paid, and lesser-educated
Kaniss writes, of the 1991 Philly Mayor's race:
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]
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.
2004 Mumia Abu-Jamal
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© copyright 2003 by Mumia Abu-Jamal.
All rights reserved.
Reprinted by permission of the author.