Media Blackmail

In a prior folly  we questioned whether congress or corporations were driving the campaign contribution race. Some questions were raised about ways to limit the need for such large amounts of money. The primary cost of running a campaign has become the expense of TV and radio ads. The media gives almost no air time to interviews of the candidates or discussions of their positions. They prefer, when they discuss elections at all, to concentrate on the top race (usually the presidential race) and then only on the race dynamics. Not the policies. So if a candidate is going to reach voters he must pay for the privilege.

As suggested laws could be passed to change the financial dynamics. These could be in form of granting free air time or the government could set up a government sponsored broadcast service, as is done in many other parts of the world, where candidates and elected officials could discuss their polices.

Why don't proposal like these ever get anywhere? It's because of the unbalanced powers of the politicians and the broadcast media. In today's world things almost don't exist if they don't appear on television. So when the media decides to influence a politicians position they can choose to ignore him, or give prominence to his opponents or, most recently, use paid pundits to attack him on air.

The threat of having your political career damaged is enough to keep politicians in line. So no proposals that would cut into the revenue stream of the broadcast media or would lessen their influence with the public ever get any serious consideration.

It is possible that the recent rise of the internet as an alternative source of information may alter the balance of power in the future, but for the moment the broadcast media continue to blackmail congress.

Moral: If you want to express your opinions buy your own printing press

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Copyright © 2004 Robert D Feinman
Feel free to use the ideas, but the words are mine.