Establishment Media

Yes, I know very well that that is; to be the in-house media functionary. Not quite the so-called ‘real’ news media, but to be an employee/technician/writer/personality for the in-house public affairs media of a large government element – the US Air Force. I wouldn’t be so bitchy as to call the various offices that I worked in – base Public Affairs, the stint with a couple of production detachments focusing on informational elements for various departments of government, and for the largest part of my service life as a low-level minion of the keeping-up-the-morale-of-our-overseas-stationed-troops effort – as an in-house claque … but yeah. I’m almost two decades retired from the game, so maybe I can. Yes, I – and all the other AFRTS, PA pukes and military videographers – we were hired, paid and maintained in order to further the public affair goals of the US military. No shame in admitting that. Good outfits in the main; paid only moderately well, and a smidgen of a retirement after all that – but good on the whole to work for, and any number of former military public affairs personnel have used the experience as a stepping-stone to careers in journalism, television, and politics, to name just a few fields.

The thing is – we all knew who we worked for; the military. And one of those lessons was that we should never reflect discredit on the military in our productions or in our actions in uniform. Fair go, being employees, we could not be seen to wash the institutional dirty laundry in public, and all. Public Affairs’ mission in the event of the dirty laundry coming out, was to spin so as to make it seem somewhat less dirty.

Given that, what is one to make of reports that the FCC was (and likely will again, only under a different name) intent on instituting something called a “Multi-Market Study of Critical Information Needs” … a survey of the news-reporting process? And not just at television and radio news organizations, but at newspapers as well. The stated intent as noted in the linked Wall Street Journal opinion piece, was to “ferret out information from television and radio broadcasters about “the process by which stories are selected” and how often stations cover “critical information needs,” along with “perceived station bias” and “perceived responsiveness to underserved populations.” Well, well, well … and on pain of not having their broadcast licenses renewed, radio and television newsrooms would have to justify the judgment of the managing editors to the FCC operatives in answering those and other questions. And if the FCC was not pleased? What then, oh wolves, especially if and when – and it would come to when, I am certain of that – covering a story which would reflect discredit on the federal government? How long would it be until every newsroom had an official minder?

I do not like to think that it would come to that, but there are things that I thought unlikely – such as the IRS being used against Republican and Tea Party activists – which have now come about. That both the major print and broadcast media outlets (with Fox News appearing to be the exception) are not up in arms about having government minders ‘overseeing’ news production is just one more indication of how close they are to becoming in-house media functionaries. Without uniforms, of course. Discuss.

(Cross-posted at

8 thoughts on “Establishment Media”

  1. There is now no doubt that the goal was, literally, to quietly install Zampoliti into every newsroom. The concept itself was bad enough, but the implementation was such that there can be no doubt that the intent was malign.

    1) This was being done under the aegis of the FCC. Except that the Commission never voted on doing this and it came as a surprise to at least some of the Commission members. If it did not come from the Commission itself, it had to come from a higher Executive authority. And that authority was not, and has not been made public. This is the Federal government. If the source of the orders is concealed, it is because those giving the orders did not want to be held responsible.

    2) They claimed authority to place Zampoliti in print media newsrooms along with broadcast media newsrooms. Leaving aside the detail of government minders being crosswise with the First Amendment; where in statute or Obama Decree-with-the-force-of-Law-sans-legal-authority does the FCC have anything to do with print media?

    3) There is the matter that the “official” Establishment Media did not say a peep. Imagine the reaction if George W. Bush’s administration had hinted at something like this?

    It is not a revelation that the media are Leftist hacks. I could add an appendix of which media executives are married or related to members of the White House political operation.

    Let me cite a tale by Arthur Conan Doyle. The Sherlock Holmes story, “Silver Blaze”.

    Gregory (Scotland Yard detective): “Is there any other point to which you would wish to draw my attention?”
    Holmes: “To the curious incident of the dog in the night-time.”
    Gregory: “The dog did nothing in the night-time.”
    Holmes: “That was the curious incident.”

    The dog did nothing, because the intruder was his master. The dog knew his master and did not react.

    The Press knows their master.

    A government that spies on its own people, uses the organs of the government against its political enemies and to illicitly reward its friends, rules by decree, militarizes every Executive department, and tries to control what news reaches the population has a name. It is on the tip of my tongue. I know the name isn’t “Constitutional” …

    Subotai Bahadur

  2. Celia, you probably know that William Butterworth was an army PA guy for years before he got out and began to write his very successful novels under the nom de plume WEB Griffin.

  3. I didn’t now that, Mike – but I am not in the least surprised. There are all sorts of former PA and broadcaster types doing all kinds of interesting things. My own favorite former military broadcaster is Dale Dye. Who was such a character that I had even heard of him before he went into bit-parts and training civilian actors to put in a better pretense of being military…

  4. Add to the list of intolerable acts above, this new one out today:

    The Department of Health and Human Services is seeking access to all past, present, and future Twitter streams, for “analysis” in real time to detect outbreaks of “diseases”. I seem to remember a former country that defined opposing the government as transmissible psychiatric disorders; “philosophical intoxication” and “sluggish schizophrenia” were the formal diagnoses that sent dissidents to psychiatric hospitals for being outspoken in opposition to the authorities, demonstrating for reform, writing books in opposition to the government. I assume that the new political DSM will include blogs.

    Just for the record, since by law all hospitals report disease outbreaks to their Health Departments, and all of them are already linked to HHS online, there is no way that they would be tracking epidemics with Twitter.

    Subotai Bahadur

  5. “ferret out information from television and radio broadcasters about “the process by which stories are selected”

    I thought they just waited for the daily fax from the DNC which told them which stories to cover, and what to say.

  6. Yes, Robert – but there might be some few reporters and editors with delusions of being independent, and making up their own minds about what is newsworthy … and that tendency must be stamped out with dispatch and rigor. Can’t have the sheeple distracted and confused dontchaknow.

  7. }}} there is no way that they would be tracking epidemics with Twitter.

    Ah, but they seek diseases among the twits of the world.

    … ‘Nuff said, n’est-ce pas?

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