Does Exxon control the Mayflower oil spill coverage?

It is during crises, like Exxon Mobil‘s Mayflower oil spill disaster, that press freedom matters most and we can really judge whether the media are doing their job. As critics have pointed out from the beginning, many media outlets have effectively let Exxon dictate their coverage. As Arkansas Blog now reports, Little Rock TV stations have gone a step further in their submission to the corporate giant: Under pressure from Exxon, Arkansas ABC, NBC, and Fox affiliates have declined to air a paid advertisement (view on youtube) critical of Exxon. Exxon – get this – has threatened legal action against the stations. Exxon executives, who should probably be on trial for criminal negligence, are dictating what can and cannot be said in public about them in Arkansas. That is the extent of press freedom and freedom of speech in this state.

“Amidst reports of media intimidation at the site of the Mayflower, Arkansas tar sands oil spill, ExxonMobil has now taken to bullying local Little Rock television stations into canceling the airing of a satirical but cutting advertisement critical of their business practices… The move by Exxon marks the latest in a series of reported strong-arm tactics undertaken by Exxon to censor reporting in the days following the Mayflower tar sands oil spill.” (Statement from the ad organizers)

The news media and the Mayflower EXXON oil spill disaster

Former Little Rock news Anchor Ron Gardner has posted a passionate take-down (via arkansastvnewswatch) of the news media’s, especially the Little Rock TV news programs’ treatment of the oil spill disaster in Mayflower.

“What the local broadcasters have done, for the most part, is use statements from the EXXON spokesperson and in one case, an attempt to determine whether Sen. Jason Rapert and some others are totally in the pockets of big oil companies, simply let Rapert totally off the hook…
Jesus Christ. Everybody involved in putting that sort of shit on the air should be fired…
It’s shameful, disgusting and depressing and bodes ill for the future of our country when the local media does such a piss poor job of educating the people about issues, who their politicians are, what is happening behind the closed doors in the capital building, etc. etc. etc. …”

The Arkansas-Democrat Gazette, to its credit, in its April, 3 edition published a well-written column , (paywall) about he pipeline burst and its implications for the Keystone XL pipeline: “Oil spill highlights pipeline perils“, by Sam Lane, the director of ArkansasFracking.org.

Meanwhile, Huffington Post reports that a twitter account mocking Exxon and its handling of the oil spill disaster was suspended by the corporation (twitter corp., that is). I guess that’s how social media are supposed to be furthering democracy and empowerment and citizen journalism and saving the world – by caving in to any bully who comes along, whether China or Exxon. Thanks, Twitter, for making that clear.

Check out the coverage at Arkansas Blog.

The corporate media and the Occupy Wall Street protest

Occupy Wall Street cartoon

"They don't know why they are protesting"

This cartoon (cortesy of Think Progress) expresses well how the corporate media are trying to shape the narrative about the inconvenient Wall Street protesters. Regardless what one’s political opinion on the issues, nobody in their right mind can claim that the protesters don’t express specific grievances and propose specific policies how to address them unless they are intellectually dishonest (not to mention systematic liars like ADG’s Mike Masterson).

What is more, polls show very clearly that a majority of Americans agrees with some of OWS’s core messages:

  • A recent New York Times/CBS poll found that 46% of the public think OWS reflects the views of most Americans. 34% disagreed and 18% had no opinion. Only 27% think the Tea Party reflects the views of most Americans.
  • Two-thirds of the public said that wealth should be distributed more evenly in the country.
  • Two-thirds object to tax cuts for corporations and a similar number prefer increasing income taxes on millionaires.
  • 84 percent disapprove of Congress and 71 percent of the public say the Republican party does not have a clear plan for creating jobs.
  • Seven in 10 Americans think the policies of Congressional Republicans favor the rich.
  • In a more recent CBS poll 35 percent had a favorable impression of the OWS protest movement. Only 16 percent could say the same for Wall Street and large corporations. 29 percent had a favorable impression of the Tea Party movement, and 21 percent of government in Washington.
  • In terms of unpopularity, Wall Street/large corporations tied with Washington government, with 71 percent of those polled saying they had an unfavorable impression of them. The Tea Party movement got a 50 percent unfavorable response, and Occupy Wall Street protesters 40 percent.
  • 74 percent of those surveyed believe Americans who are not wealthy have too little influence on politics, while also saying Wall Street and large corporations (80 percent) and PACs (74 percent) have too much influence. Responses over the political influence of labor unions was divided – 39 percent said they have too much, 22 percent said they have too little, and 38 percent said they have about the right amount.

It seems that the corporate media, with their generally anti-union, pro-Wall Street, pro-corporate bias, are fighting an uphill battle on behalf of the 1%. Expect more of the nasty bad-smelling variety from the Arkansas Democrat Gazette.

UPDATE: Another excellent take on corporate media deafness by Tom Tomorrow:

Occupy Wall Street cartoon

"But what do they want?"