A national media spotlight has focused on the battle between the Constitution of the
But as the holy smoke clears, news outlets might want to consider the concepts that have endured on those chiseled tablets — in the context of the media industry itself.
Before proceeding with this column, I wish to inform any litigious corporation among ye that I will be utilizing quotations from the Ten Commandments for â€œfair useâ€ purposes in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107.
Rupert Murdoch and News Corp. should note that while I do not have access to extensive financial and legal resources of the sort available to Al Franken and his publisher, I intend to defend myself fully against any claims that Fox News has a propriety interest in Exodus 20:1-17.
Furthermore, I would vigorously dispute any claims brought against me by Charlton Heston, since — unlike Arnold Schwarzenegger — I clearly recognize the distinction between
Now, letâ€™s consider some implications of the Ten Commandments for modern corporate media.
1 — â€œThou shalt have no other gods before me.â€
This one has dubious growth potential. As any significant time spent in medialand ought to make clear, false idols are the essence of the advertising biz. These days, serious devotion to a non-monetary deity would seem rather quaint in contrast to Nielsen ratings, Arbitron numbers and the Audit Bureau of Circulations. The gold standard may have gone the way of the golden calf, but media references to spiritual pieties can be understood as window-dressing for an industry that knows thereâ€™s a world of difference between prophets and profits.
2 — â€œThou shalt not make unto thee any graven image.â€
No problem. Wood and stone are passe. Media images are what matter: for fast food, beer brands, cigarettes, new cars, politicians…
3 — â€œThou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain.â€
No worries. Cable TV shows and movies are just so cool with all their extremely naughty words; scriptwriters donâ€™t even bother with taking the Lordâ€™s name in vain anymore.
4 — â€œRemember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.â€
The 24/7 media business never puts its feet up. Thou shalt not lose market share.
5 — â€œHonor thy father and thy mother.â€
That concept sells occasionally.
6 — â€œThou shalt not kill.â€
This oneâ€™s a media loser. At best it only provides ancillary income streams. Any journalist in the habit of seriously making such an assertion is liable to be out of a big-media job. (Look what happened in the 1990s to Colman McCarthy at The
7 — â€œThou shalt not commit adultery.â€
BORing. But a ratings winner among certain demographics.
8 — â€œThou shalt not steal.â€
For a broadcast industry based on massive theft of the public airwaves for private corporate gain, that oneâ€™s a laugher.
9 — â€œThou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.â€
After the Patriot Act (brought to you by George W. Bush and John Ashcroft while underwritten by much media silence), whoâ€™s going to know?
10 — â€œThou shalt not covet thy neighborâ€™s house, nor anything that is thy neighborâ€™s.â€
Hey, youâ€™re supposed to covet just about anything that is thy neighborâ€™s … if youâ€™ve seen it advertised.
Norman Solomon is co-author of â€œTarget