Nov
01
1997

Happy Birthday, CIA

The press celebrates 50 years of spying and covert action

When the Central Intelligence Agency celebrated its 50th anniversary in September, press coverage spoke of the uncertainty of the spy agency's mission in the post Cold War world. Apparently the press finds itself equally confused; how else to explain the litany of stories venerating the highly controversial CIA as if it were no more than a bumbling ex-president? Over the years, the CIA has amassed a horrific record of fomenting bloodbaths and coups (Iran 1953, Guatemala 1954, Chile 1973, etc.); rigging or subverting elections (e.g., Italy, Australia, Central America, etc.); and plotting to assassinate foreign leaders (Sihanouk, Lumumba, Castro, etc.). […]

Nov
01
1997

Disney

(From "The Global Media Giants," by Robert W. McChesney, Extra!, November/December 1997) $24 billion - 1997 sales Disney is the closest challenger to Time Warner for the status of world's largest media firm. In the early 1990s, Disney successfully shifted its emphasis from its theme parks and resorts to its film and television divisions. In 1995, Disney made the move from being a dominant global content producer to being a fully integrated media giant with the purchase of Capital Cities/ABC for $19 billion, one of the biggest acquisitions in business history. Disney now generates 31 percent of its income from […]

Nov
01
1997

'Fast Track' 1, Democracy 0

Trade policy isn't open for debate, say editorialists

The nation's newspapers are incensed at the idea that President Bill Clinton might not get "fast track" authority to negotiate trade pacts that Congress can only approve or disapprove, but not amend. Pointing to negative effects of NAFTA, a wide range of critics want future pacts to integrate protections for workers and the environment, and see fast track as an attempt to do an end-run around the political process. In editorial after heated editorial, virtually every major paper in the country denounced such critics and their concerns as "protectionist" (New York Times, 9/8/97), an "obstruction" (Baltimore Sun, 2/3/97), "silly" (Atlanta […]

Nov
01
1997

The Global Media Giants

We are the world

Time Warner offices with Rochester skyline/Photo: Thomas Belknap

A specter now haunts the world: a global commercial media system dominated by a small number of superpowerful, mostly U.S.-based transnational media corporations. It is a system that works to advance the cause of the global market and promote commercial values, while denigrating journalism and culture not conducive to the immediate bottom line or long-run corporate interests. It is a disaster for anything but the most superficial notion of democracy--a democracy where, to paraphrase John Jay's maxim, those who own the world ought to govern it. The global commercial system is a very recent development. Until the 1980s, media systems […]

Nov
01
1997

Time Warner

Time Warner selected holdings

(From "The Global Media Giants," by Robert W. McChesney, Extra!, November/December 1997) $25 billion - 1997 sales Time Warner, the largest media corporation in the world, was formed in 1989 through the merger of Time Inc. and Warner Communications. In 1992, Time Warner split off its entertainment group, and sold 25 percent of it to U.S. West, and 5.6 percent of it to each of the Japanese conglomerates Itochu and Toshiba. It regained from Disney its position as the world's largest media firm with the 1996 acquisition of Turner Broadcasting. Time Warner is moving toward being a fully global company, […]

Nov
01
1997

Visible and Invisible Caregivers

Why Princess Diana was

Reporters who covered the funeral of Britain's Princess Diana were mystified by the mourners (e.g., New York Times, 9/7/97). "Why are you here?" one journalist after another asked the people adding bouquets to the mountainous flower pile outside the palace gates. Sikhs and Rastafarians, Londoners and tourists, women and men, gay and straight, responded in a similar way. The mantra became familiar: "We're here because Diana was the only one we ever saw who cared." Now perhaps that wasn't the only reason why the mourners massed in Kensington. Plenty has been said about the princess' sex and class appeal. Fed […]

Nov
01
1997

Out of Sight, Out of Mind

1.4 million welfare recipients get disappeared

The debate is over," declared President Clinton on August 11. "We know now that welfare reform works." One year after passage of the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (PRA), Clinton chose an event hosted by Rep. Dick Gephardt (D.-Mo.), an opponent of the law that had eliminated most federal guarantees to aid, to proclaim victory in the war to end welfare as we know it. As far as the nation's news media were concerned, the debate certainly was over. News outlets by and large echoed Clinton's words, marking the first anniversary of the PRA's passage by declaring that […]

Nov
01
1997

NBC (GE)

(From "The Global Media Giants," by Robert W. McChesney, Extra!, November/December 1997) $5 billion - 1996 sales General Electric is one of the leading electronics and manufacturing firms in the world with nearly $80 billion in sales in 1996. Its operations have become increasingly global, with non-U.S. revenues increasing from 20 percent of the total in 1985 to 38 percent in 1995, and an expected 50 percent in 2000. Although NBC currently constitutes only a small portion of GE's total activity, after years of rapid growth it is considered to be the core of GE's strategy for long-term global growth. […]