January 3, 2019

What's happening to the media

Texas Observer -Jim Hightower’s latest column, “Free the Free Press from Wall Street Plunderers,” takes on the corporate bottom-feeders picking apart what’s left of America’s newspapers. He names names, singling out Digital First Media and GateHouse Media, which recently purchased the Austin American-Statesman, as the worst offenders — “hedge-fund scavengers” and “ruthless Wall Street profiteers out to grab big bucks fast” by gutting newsrooms. Tough stuff. And apparently too tough for Creators Syndicate, the distribution firm that has long placed Hightower’s column in various media outlets.

Last week, according to the Austin Chronicle, Creators informed Hightower that it would not be distributing his column out of fear of retribution from Digital First and Gatehouse. In an email to the Chronicle, Creators Managing Editor Simone Slykhous defended her decision, saying the company was only trying to protect Hightower. “We have more than 200 columnists and cartoonists, and our job is to make sure that our actions do not negatively impact them,” Slykhous said.

Melody Byrd, Hightower’s assistant, said Creators’ decision was understandable, but troubling.

“The big, hedge-fund owned newspaper chains that Hightower calls out in his column are big customers of theirs, and as such, they don’t want to risk offending them,” she said. “But while Creators’ reluctance to anger these powerful interests is somewhat understandable, the implications are frightening: It’s one more example of this dangerous time for America’s decreasingly free press that, ironically, Jim lays out in this very column.”

The column in question


 Long time readers will remember Jim Hightoer's work in the DC Gazette and Progressive Review back as far as 1971. In 1988 we ran except from a speech he gave at the Democrastic National Convention that is still of interest given the topic:

Jim Hightower - There's an old country saying down in Texas that sums up our central economic need today. These people say, "The water won't ever clear up until you get the hogs out of the creek." That's our problem, friends--the fat hogs have been turned loose in the creek, and they are fouling the economic waters for you and me. We've got to get the hogs out of the creek.
For eight hard years Reagan and Bush have pushed down upon us a pernicious philosophy of greed-a philosophy that says, "I've got mine. You get yours." "Never give a sucker an even break." "I'm rich, you're not." "Adios chump!" Now, here comes George Herbert Walker Bush II, perpetually preppie. He's of the ' Kcnnebunkport Bushes, don't you know. 

He's a toothache of a man, telling us to stay-thc-course, and threatening to lead us from tweedledum to tweedledumber. He would have us believe that the elixer of trickle-down economics has produced an unprecedented prosperity in America. "A boom," he squeals. "A boom."
Before you swallow that whole, however, ask yourself this question: A boom for whom? Eighty percent of the American people, your family and mine—have lost income as a result of the economic policies that George Bush wants to continue. Check your own purse, look at your own savings account, balance your own income with out-go, and you will find that the Reagan-Bush program has brought a lot more bust than boom to America's families.

Meanwhile, the wealthiest among us, the richest one percent of Americans- George Bush and his buttoned down buddies—have enjoyed a 50 percent increase in their incomes. … Bush's elite are out at the yacht club tonight, sitting about in their Guccis and Puccis, sipping a delightfully fruity and frisky white wine, saying, "Play it again, George.  Play it again."

We're wondering what planet George Bush is on when he talks about all the prosperity he's created. But George has always been in another world. His is an upper-class world in which wealth is given to you at birth. He is a man who was born on third base and thinks he hit a triple. Some people say, we shouldn't be too hard on George.  He's doing his best, they say. And of course, that's what's so sad, isn't it. It's time to throw the snooty rascals out and put a people's President in the White House. —From an address to the Democratic National Convention

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