Editorial: Media Madness


compared to one standard or another that some of us may have, is, nonetheless, a vast
improvement over mainstream media. The reason is that mainstream media is motivated both
by private profit (selling access to audience with disposable income to advertisers
seeking to fleece it) and the maintenance of society’s hierarchical social and class
relations in the interests of their elite beneficiaries, regardless of what effect it has
on everyone else. In contrast, alternative, progressive, and left media, whatever
definition one gives to these terms, is motivated at least in large part by a search for
the basic truth, as well as for information, mutual communication, and public empowerment
through knowledge.

Examples to prove the bias of mainstream media are legion, of
course. But here is another graphic example, lest we forget. Most Z readers are
probably generally aware of the proposed role of the United States government in the
bailout of Indonesia, Thailand, the Philippines and South Korea. The cost of the
undertaking could climb to $80 billion, and it will surely be the largest bailout in world
history. It’s a big story, therefore, and gets considerable coverage.

So along comes a U.S. Congressperson, Bernie Sanders, who questions
the U.S. role. He calls a press conference and indicates his three-fold concerns: (1)
"I find it rather amazing and disconcerting that putting at risk some $15 to $20
billion of American taxpayer money has been done by the President without the approval of
Congress and with absolutely no input from Congress. I have questions about the propriety
of this, and even questions about the constitutionality of this." (2) "I find it
remarkable that at a time when President Clinton, Newt Gingrich, and many leaders in
Congress have found it necessary to cut back on Medicare, Medicaid, veterans programs,
affordable housing, children’s programs, and the needs of some of the most vulnerable
people in this country that suddenly, out of nowhere, the government is able to find some
$20 billion in a moment’s notice to bailout Asian economies." And (3) "In fact,
it is my strong opinion, and the opinion of a number of other knowledgeable people, that
U.S. participation in this bailout is illegal as a direct result of a law that Barney
Frank of Massachusetts and I passed in 1994 as members of the Subcommittee on
International Financial Organizations. In short, that law states that the United States
government cannot support any International Monetary Fund or World Bank loans to any
country unless the loan proposal guarantees internationally-recognized worker
rights."

This is heady stuff. The executive claims poverty, and then has huge
stores of wealth for sudden dispersal abroad. It cuts back programs that benefit suffering
U.S. citizens while spending to shore up "Asian economies." And it violates its
own laws, in the process.

Sanders continued, "I have read the proposal from the
Indonesian government–an authoritarian nation led by a ruthless man, General Suharto, a
man directly responsible for, among other things, the deaths of tens of thousands of
people in his own country and East Timor. Not one word in that proposal suggests that the
Indonesian government will adopt policies guaranteeing internationally-recognized worker
rights. Therefore, plain and simple, it is against the law for the United States, and the
Secretary of the Treasury, to support this bailout…. Furthermore, I find it very
ironic that the hard-pressed taxpayers of this country are being asked to bailout
Indonesia and other countries where the leaders of those countries are often extremely
wealthy. According to Forbes magazine, Suharto himself is worth $16 billion.
Jeffrey Winters of Northwestern University has estimated the Suharto family wealth at over
$30 billion, with another $30 billion held by fifty close allies. So here we have a
handful of people in that country worth $60 billion dollars, owning almost all of the
industry and resources in Indonesia, and the taxpayers of the United States are being
asked to bail them out."

So, one wonders, scanning the pages of the New York Times,
Washington Post
, and LA Times, and examining the news from ABC, CBS, NBC, etc.,
where is this blockbuster story? Why isn’t it news that a U.S. Congressman claims his
government is lying, anti- U.S. citizens, and illegal? Imagine playing this up in a big
expose style, revealing the venal motives of the parties involved and their lack of
concern for the human well being of anyone other than themselves. This could sell a few
papers. So, again, why isn’t it news? Or is it news, but simply not news that is
"fit to print."