•  HOME 
  •  BOOKS 
  •  WWP 
  •  DONATE 
  • Loading

Follow workers.org on
Twitter Facebook iGoogle

The media and Gaza

A military-industrial-media complex

Published Nov 28, 2010 9:34 PM

WW presents here the third installment of “The media and Gaza,” a chapter from an upcoming book on the heroic struggle of the Palestinian people of Gaza who are fighting for self-determination.

In 1944, when the U.S. was becoming the dominant power in the Middle East, the U.S. State Department described Middle Eastern oil as “a stupendous source of strategic power, and one of the greatest material prizes in world history.”

Washington’s assessment of that area has not changed.

“The Middle East, with two thirds of the world’s oil and the lowest cost, is still where the prize ultimately lies,” said Dick Cheney. This was in 1999, when he was still CEO of Halliburton, the world’s second-largest provider of equipment and services to oil and gas companies. Cheney was George H. W. Bush’s secretary of defense before his stint at Halliburton and later became George W. Bush’s vice president. This is not a coincidence.

“Cheney once drew parallels between his role as CEO of Halliburton and his role as secretary of defense. Addressing the Gulf Coast Association of Geological Societies convention in Corpus Christie in 1998, he stated: “In the oil and gas business, I deal with many of the same people.” (CorpWatch, July 25, 2000)

Understanding the needs and wants of the oil companies is a big plus for those aspiring to high government office, since Washington safeguards these needs and wants. Condoleezza Rice prepared for her roles as George W. Bush’s national security advisor and then secretary of state by first representing an oil company. She was on Chevron’s board of directors and even headed the oil giant’s committee on public policy.

Oil companies also mesh with the huge Pentagon apparatus that protects them. Currently on Chevron’s board is Donald Rice, who was Bill Clinton’s secretary of the Air Force from 1989 to 1993.

The media monopolies are not far behind, as many have interlocking directors with big oil. General Electric (NBC) interlocks with Mobil, CNN with Chevron, Knight-Ridder with Phillips Petroleum, the New York Times with Texaco (whose parent company is Chevron). And some “public” television news shows are connected to Big Oil through ad revenues. Chevron is a key funder of the most influential show on PBS, the nightly “News Hour with Jim Lehrer.” (FAIR, Dec. 19, 2007)

This is why Washington officials, Chevron and the New York Times speak with one voice.

A military-industrial-media complex

Oil companies are not the only U.S. corporations making money hand over fist. Arms sellers are awash in profits. In 2005, for example, the top military contractors had a record $25 billion to $30 billion in cash in their coffers. Lockheed Martin, the largest arms seller in the world and the biggest supplier of weapons to Israel, topped the list. (New York Times, May 12, 2005)

There is an incestuous relationship between Big Oil, the weapons makers and the media. Oil companies want a strong military presence in the Middle East to protect them from the people whose resources they exploit. In addition, the military machine that protects oil company interests is itself the largest consumer of oil in the world. And because the media monopolies interlock with both, they are in on the take when both make profits.

How does the military exert its influence on the media?

For one thing, the big media welcome ads from the weapons makers. Lockheed Martin is a major advertiser on CNN, which is owned by Time-Warner. Boeing is a major funder of PBS’s “Washington Week.”

Some media are actually owned by arms merchants. NBC’s parent company is General Electric. GE Aviation makes the propulsion systems found on U.S. aircraft sold to the Israeli Air Force, including the F-16 Fighting Falcon and F-4 Phantom, the CH-53 heavy lift helicopter, the Apache attack helicopter and UH-60 Black Hawk utility helicopter, as well as the Israeli-made Kfir fighter plane. Some of the attack helicopters GE outfits are used in the occupied territories. GE also makes parts for Hellfire II laser-guided missiles as well as T-700 and 701C jet engines used by the Israeli Defense Forces. (Seattle Palestine Solidarity Committee)

So when reporters, analysts and guest “experts” at NBC find excuses to justify Israel’s attack on Gaza, they don’t mention that their salaries are paid by a company that makes a mint providing the very weapons that Israel used. NBC doesn’t make a cent from exposing the terrible toll these weapons have taken.

Another way the arms makers influence the media is through corporate interlocks with media companies that weld together their interests.

This relationship between media and the military has become such a fixture that it is an integral part of the for-profit capitalist system. Normon Solomon explained that “a military-industrial-media complex ... now extends to much of corporate media. ... Often, media magnates and people on the boards of large media-related corporations enjoy close links — financial and social — with the military industry and Washington’s foreign policy establishment.” (War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death, Norman Solomon, Wiley & Sons, 2005)