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September 09, 2006

Money, Willful Blindness and Teachable Moments

What is it about the prospect of making gobs of money that turns those oligarchs running this country into the blindest of the blind - people who are unwilling to see falsehood when it is standing right in front of them?  Money, you think?  Matt Stoller over at MyDD did some research and came up with some interesting information about Disney and what it likely gets and wants from our political gatekeepers, those folks in our Congress who make the laws that directly impact Disney and all our large corporations.  Forget us, the people, since that clearly hasn't been of much concern to our Republican Congress for at least a dozen years. 

Stoller talks about Disney's objections and the danger that Disney can foresee if Democrats take over, especially now that Disney has really annoyed them: 

Disney is leading the effort to give Hollywood control over how your TV and TiVo are built and what you can do with programs you watch.  This is in the Stevens bill before the Senate.  Democrats didn't really have any reason to deny Disney its political candy, since Disney was thought to be responsible with its content, or at least not overtly insane.  Their credibility on this front is going quickly, and donations to Chuck Schumer aren't the palliative they once were.

Another is copyright extensions, which Disney has used to keep its perpetual license on characters like Mickey Mouse, who should by now have fallen into the public domain.  Democrats didn't really have any reason to think that this was anything but a dispute over intellectual property, with corporations like Disney having motives that are only as pure as Snow White, versus pirates bent on stealing songs and movies by hardworking artists.  Now that Disney's credibility is going, lobbyists for Disney are going to find it tougher on Capitol Hill, and lobbyists for the Creative Commons movement are going to find a much easier reception.  Iger knows there's a movement bent on routing around his unreasonable and political control of free speech through copyright extremism.  He's got a choice on whether he gives that movement a whole lot of real political power.

And another thing Disney wants is media consolidation.  Disney wants to buy everything, since media is seen as a scale business.  It's pretty obvious to Democrats if this movie airs that Disney is not a responsible public steward of the airwaves it controls right now.  Why should they be allowed to engulf even more assets?  Like Creative Commons, the free media movement is growing rapidly, and it is a real movement that could receive a dollop of political power thanks to Disney's exceptionally and impressively poor judgment.

The people of this country have long needed a clear picture of the quid pro quo between the corporations and this Republican Administration and Congress.  This administration has been good to Disney.  Disney paid taxes in 2001 at a rate of about 27%, it paid at a 7.5% rate in 2002, nothing in 2003, when they made over a billion and a half dollars, and then at a -3.4% rate in 2003.  Reason enough to do what they could to make sure that the Republicans maintain their hold on Congress. 

Heh folks, we knew it was going to get rough.  This mini-series clearly starts the clock on the nasty, desperate Republican lies we are going to be getting for 8 weeks.   The good news is that we are a lot stronger than we were 2 years ago in November, right after the last election, when they conceived this ugly baby.  We have excellent  communications channels and we have confidence from a few real wins - Lamont's win; the likely failure of the Bolton nomination; the stand-off on net neutrality, which also impacts TV; and more, including the ability to get Scholastic to rethink their cooperation with ABC on this movie.    

Disney/ABC's refusal to pull this mini-series and the terrible consequences of getting this false image of who is to blame for 9/11 out across the world may backfire big on them.   This may be one of the real "teachable moments" for progressives to illustrate the really big issues in this country today. 

Posted by Lynn Allen on September 9, 2006 at 06:59 PM in Media, National and International Politics | Permalink


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