Nattering Networks: How Mass Media Fails Democracy

Kate Garsombke
November 29, 2001
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Nattering Networks: How Mass Media Fails Democracy

Media consolidation has created conflicts of interest that affect the way journalists cover war, says Robert McChesney, a communications research professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. 'You have a real conflict of interest with your media system that covers these sorts of events being owned by institutions that have a distinct self-interest that these policies go in a certain direction,' he says in an interview with Jessica Clark of LiP Magazine.

McChesney argues the resulting coverage -- and gaps in coverage -- of the Sept. 11 events and their aftermath has been 'blatant propaganda.' This poses a threat to democratic decision-making in America and further contributes to a nationwide ignorance of global politics.

'What the propaganda coverage has been completely incapable of doing is providing any context so that Americans could make sense of this attack,' says McChesney. The media not making sense of the current situation not only justified our involvement, but justified it by playing with the public's anger and pain -- and equated revenge as a means to ease those emotions.

'It's appalling that the press system would permit that legitimate anger and pain to be manipulated by powerful interests to suit their own political and financial agenda,' says McChesney. 'To do that is a real abdication of any notion of what a free press has to be in a democratic society.'
--Kate Garsombke
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