For years I've been calling for a democratic restoration in Canada. We're still a democracy but we dare not take that for granted, not when liberal democracy is on the run in so many other countries, including the United States.
The path to democratic restoration in my argument begins with the dismantling of the corporate media cartel. Let's revisit the Davey and Kent Commission reports and again realize how media concentration endangers democracy.
Corporate media distributes not information but messaging, information corrupted with spin. There's a kernel of truth to it, just enough to carry the weight of a thick layer of opinion and, when that opinion emerges from a handful of boardrooms, it becomes predictably slanted.
The Fourth Estate is supposed to represent the public interest but, once captured and consolidated by corporate interests, that changes. The media go from being the watchdog of government and become, instead, the lap dog of government. There's a powerful quid pro quo to this. For example, consider how Stephen Harper exempted PostMedia from the law governing foreign ownership and how PostMedia repaid the favour in various ways but especially in the full front page splash endorsing Harper featured in every PostMedia paper as Canadians went to the polls last October.
Before that there was the example of the prospect of a coalition government forged by Dion and Layton. Harper called it unconstitutional, a constitutional coup d'etat, even though that was precisely how his then pal, John Howard, became prime minister in Australia. Our corporate media cartel knew and ought to have known that Harper was lying through his teeth but they instead perpetuated Harper's tall tale in their pages.
There's a mutual corruption that takes place between government and a corporatized mass media. It's pretty pronounced in the States but we've seen enough of it up here too.
Here's Hedges' take:
The media landscape in America is dominated by “fake news.” It has been for decades. This fake news does not emanate from the Kremlin. It is a multibillion-dollar-a-year industry that is skillfully designed and managed by public relations agencies, publicists and communications departments on behalf of individuals, government and corporations to manipulate public opinion. ...The public is so awash in these lies, delivered 24 hours a day through electronic devices and print, that viewers and readers can no longer distinguish between truth and fiction.
Donald Trump and the racist-conspiracy theorists, generals and billionaires around him inherited and exploited this condition, just as they have inherited and will exploit the destruction of civil liberties and collapse of democratic institutions. Trump did not create this political, moral and intellectual vacuum. It created him. It created a world where fact is interchangeable with opinion, where celebrities have huge megaphones simply because they are celebrities, where information must be entertaining and where we can all believe what we want to believe regardless of truth. A demagogue like Trump is what you get when you turn culture and the press into burlesque.
Journalists long ago gave up trying to describe an objective world or give a voice to ordinary men and women. They became conditioned to cater to corporate demands...
The corporations that own media outlets, unlike the old newspaper empires, view news as simply another revenue stream. Revenue streams compete inside a corporation. When the news division does not make what is seen as enough profit, the ax comes down. Content is irrelevant...
...Trump is adept at communicating through image, sound bites and spectacle. Fake news, which already dominates print and television reporting, will define the media under his administration. Those who call out the mendacity of fake news will be vilified and banished. The corporate state created this monstrous propaganda machine and bequeathed it to Trump. He will use it.The Fourth Estate used to serve as the eyes and ears of the public. They spoke truth to power and deservedly held themselves out as the vox populi. Today the corporate media cartel serves to blind and deafen the public and the tongue in which they communicate is that of the powerful.