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February 6, 2006

HarryTho 2/5 Natalee Holloway Commentary

Topics: Natalee Holloway

In response to a question concerning ownership of our major cable news networks, I felt I should write a little on the matter. Mainly, I will probe ownership with some appetizers and then whether or not there exists any possible connection with the grand attention, displayed by our cable news networks on the Natalee Holloway case, with any of the background activities that I entertained in past editorials.

First, there are three cable news networks: CNN, FOX and MSNBC News. The host covering the Natalee Holloway case were Nancy Grace of CNN, Greta of Fox News and Dan Abrams and Rita Crosby of MSNBC News.

"Time Warner is the world's largest media company, and CNN, while a major player journalistically, is a relatively insignificant part of the company financially. CNN's $798 million in 2002 revenue represents 2 percent of Time Warner's overall revenue that year.
Time Warner purchased the company when it bought Turner Broadcasting in 1996, making CNN part of the Time Inc. family."

"Fox News's founder, Rupert Murdoch, likes to contend that his corporation, News Corp., is not really a major media company. In one sense, his statement appears valid. In terms of total revenue, News Corp.'s was a little less than half of Time Warner's in 2002 and one-eighth of all General Electric's revenue.

Yet looked at more closely, Murdoch's contention is hard to accept. In terms of media revenue alone, NBC gets only a little bit more than what Fox News does ($7.4 vs. $6.5 billion). Time Warner is bigger than both (with $29 billion in media revenue), yet that definition of media includes a lot of entertainment media that are apples and oranges.

If one looks at the world of journalism, News Corp. is perhaps more a behemoth than its cable rivals. Where G.E. has a TV network and Time Warner magazines, cable and online, Murdoch, in magazines like The Weekly Standard, newspapers as diverse as The New York Post and The Times of London, and television outlets as broadly placed as Sky News overseas and Fox News here, has influence that reaches much farther into the halls of government and opinion making in many more countries and has influenced the trend toward tabloidization in media globally more than anyone else."

"MSNBC has two owners. General Electric, through its NBC subsidiary, owns half of MSNBC. Microsoft owns the other half. The network is managed by people who report to executives at NBC."

With respect to news content, FOX News maintains superiority over the other cable news networks. But, its superiority exceeds the boundaries of content, Fox News extends into the halls of politics.

"In 1996, Fox News was invented by an expatriate news mogul named Rupert Murdoch. I'd seen what Murdoch did to the British newspapers he bought, moving them somewhere to the right of the queen, and saw what he did to The New York Post, which became a staunch Gingrich supporter.

But what would Murdoch do with a national U.S. cable news network?

Eight years later, we have the answer: He has made Fox News the official Bush network, an extension of the White House press office.

Murdoch has made money with his formula, laughing all the way to the bank. But it's not news he purveys, it is propaganda. America doesn't need a European-style government network because we have Murdoch and Fox.

Most European nations – with the exception of former Soviet ones – are moving away from official news. In America, however, Murdoch, who has many friends in Washington and is extending his news empire by expanding his cable and satellite ownership, provides viewers with an official Republican channel.

It may be successful and it may be patriotic, but it is not news. You don't have to watch it very long to realize that these people are peddling propaganda, opinion dressed up as fact. They have invented a clever motto – "fair and balanced" – to distract viewers from the reality of their Orwellian doublethink, defined as keeping the contradiction in mind as one says the opposite.

Fox News eliminates the need for thinking, reducing complex issues to the simple right-wing orthodoxy Murdoch has discovered as his formula for making money. It represents a stark break with American news traditions."

How did the cable news networks acquire such a large following in order to capture so much of the American audience:

Why Media Ownership Matters

"For the media moguls, even this parody of political "diversity" is too much. So as Gen. Colin Powell led the war on Iraq, his son, Michael Powell, chairman of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), led the war on diversity of voices at home.

In the spring of 2003, Michael Powell tried to hand over the airwaves and newspapers to fewer and fewer tycoons by further loosening restrictions on how many media outlets a single company could own. Powell tried to scrap 30-year-old rules that limited the reach of any television network to no more than 35 percent of the national population, and limits on cross-ownership that, for example, prevented newspapers from buying television or radio stations in the same city. The new rules would have allowed a broadcast network to buy up stations that together reached 45 percent of the national population.

The attack on the existing media-ownership rules came from predictable corners: Both Viacom, which owns CBS, and Rupert Murdoch's conservative FOX News Channel were already in violation, and would be forced to sell off stations to come into compliance with the 35-percent limit. The rule change would enable Murdoch to control the airwaves of entire cities. That would be fine with Bush and the Powells, since Murdoch is one of their biggest boosters.

Murdoch declared in February 2003 that George W. Bush "will either go down in history as a very great president or he'll crash and burn. I'm optimistic it will be the former by a ratio of 2 to 1." Murdoch leaves nothing to chance: His FOX News Channel is doing all it can to help.

It looked like Powell, backed by the Bush White House and with Republican control of Congress, would have no trouble ramming through these historic rule changes. The broadcast industry left nothing to chance: Between 1998 and 2004, broadcasters spent a boggling $249 million lobbying the federal government, including spending $27 million on federal candidates and lawmakers.

This would normally be called bribery. At the FCC, it's just business as usual.

You would think that FCC deregulation, affecting millions of Americans, would get major play in the media. But the national networks knew that if people found out about how one media mogul could own nearly everything you watch, hear and read in a city, there would be revolt. The solution for them was simple: They just didn't cover the issue for a year. The only thing the networks did was to join together -- and you thought they were competitors? -- in a brief filed with the FCC to call for media deregulation.

And then, something remarkable happened: Media activists -- an unlikely coalition of liberals and conservatives -- mounted a national campaign to defeat Powell and stop the corporate sell-off. The FCC received 2 million letters and e-mails, most of them opposing the sell-off. The Prometheus Radio Project, a grass-roots media activism group, sued to stop the sale of our airwaves, and won in federal court last June. These are hopeful signals that the days of backroom deals by media titans are numbered.

Powell announced his resignation as chairman of the FCC in January. Arguably the worst FCC chairman in history, Powell led with singular zeal the effort to auction off the public airwaves to the highest corporate bidder. In so doing, he did us all a favor: For a brief moment, he pulled back the covers on the incestuous world of media ownership to expose the corruption and rot for all to see.

Kevin Martin, Bush's newly appointed FCC chairman, will, according to an FCC insider, be even worse than Powell. Leading conservative and right-wing religious groups have been quietly lobbying the White House for Martin to chair the FCC. Martin voted with Powell on key regulations favoring media consolidation, and in addition has been a self-appointed indecency czar. The indecency furor conveniently grabs headlines and pushes for the regulation of content, while Martin and the media moguls plan sweetheart deregulation deals to achieve piecemeal what they couldn't push through all at once. This is the true indecency afflicting media today.

The major media conglomerates are among the most powerful on the planet. The onrush of digital convergence and broadband access in the workplaces and homes of America will radically change the way we work, play and communicate. Fiber-to-the-premise (FTTP) from the regional Bells, Voice over IP (VoIP) telephony, bundled services from cable companies, and increased capacity in satellite and wireless technologies will transform the platforms on which we communicate.

Who owns these platforms, what is delivered over them and, fundamentally, in whose interest they work are critical issues before us now. Given the wealth of the media companies and their shrewd donations into our political process, the advocates for the public interest are in far too short a supply."

Here is an interesting article as to how Fox News operates:

Likewise, this article ties into many items that I have wrote about in past editorials:

CBS News | Doing Business With The Enemy | August 29, 2004 21:24:42

Just about everyone with a 401(k) pension plan or mutual fund has money invested in companies that are doing business in so-called rogue states. "The revenue that is generated from the work that these companies are doing, we believe, helps to underwrite and support terrorism," says William Thompson, the New York City comptroller who oversees the $80 billion in pension funds for all city workers.

He says he wants everyone with a retirement or investment portfolio to know what these companies are up to: "We're going to increase the public visibility on this issue until these companies change their practices."

He's actually identified specific companies that have invested in these rogue countries, including Halliburton, Conoco-Phillips and General Electric. And he points out that New York's pension funds own nearly $1 billion worth of stock in these three Fortune 500 companies, which have operations in Iran and Syria."

"In fact, U.S. law does ban virtually all commerce with the rogue nations, but there's a loophole that G.E., Conoco-Phillips and Halliburton have exploited: The law does not apply to any foreign or offshore subsidiary so long as it is run by non-Americans.

"These three companies, as far as we were concerned, appear to have violated the spirit of the law," says Thompson. "In the case of Halliburton, as an example, they have an offshore subsidiary in the Cayman Islands. That subsidiary is doing business with Iran."

That subsidiary, Halliburton Products and Services, Ltd., is wholly owned by the U.S.-based Halliburton and is registered in a building in the capital of the Cayman Islands - a building owned by the local Calidonian Bank. Halliburton and other companies set up in this Caribbean Island, because of tax and secrecy laws that are corporate friendly.

Halliburton is the company that Vice President Dick Cheney used to run. He was CEO from 1995 to 2000, during which time Halliburton Products and Services set up shop in Iran. Today, it sells about $40 million a year worth of oil field services to the Iranian government.

In the case of Iran, Thompson says they earn most of their revenues through their oil industry. So what is the connection between that oil business and terrorism and weapons of mass destruction?

"The Iranian government is receiving dollars from it. And then turning around and exporting terrorism around the world. It benefits terrorism. At least that's our belief," says Thompson.

60 Minutes decided to ask Halliburton's subsidiary about its work in Iran. But we weren't allowed to enter the building with a camera. So we went in with a hidden camera, and were introduced to David Walker, manager of the local Calidonian Bank, where the subsidiary is registered.

60 Minutes was expecting to find a bustling business, but, to our surprise, Walker told us that while Halliburton Products and Services was registered at this address, it was in name only. There is no actual office here or anywhere else in the Caymans. And there are no employees on site.

We were told that if mail for the Halliburton subsidiary comes to this address, they re-route it to Halliburton headquarters in Houston.

"If you understood what most of these companies do, you would, they're not doing any business in Cayman per se. They're doing business, international business," says Walker. "Would it make sense to have somebody in Cayman pushing paper around? I don't know. And some people do it. And some people don't. And it's mostly driven by whatever the issues are with the head office."

Does that mean the head office is calling the shots? If it is, that would be against the law, which says the subsidiary must be completely independent of the U.S. company. But 60 Minutes' attempts to ask headquarters in Houston about this were rebuffed."

From the foregoing, it is my belief that it was not the doing the Twitty-Holloway camp that created the media frenzy over Natalee Holloway's disappearance. It was the wish of the owners of the cable news networks. Greta' iron-clad grasps upon Beth Twitty, to me, was the result of media control for purposes other than the discovery of Natalee Holloway. Greta, with her opulent salary and perks from News Corporation, clung to the case like renowned hunting dog, because she was ordered to do so. If it is true that News Corporation has become the media outlet for the White House, then it follows that all the attention on Aruba was a distraction.

In the foregoing, Halliburton's name popped in an even more interest affairs. We cannot forget that Halliburton is but one leg of a tripartite coalition with Chevron and the Carlyle Group. Although, without the intricacies of detail, we have mentioned Dick Cheney's embargo eluding scheme in past editorials.

News Corporation drove the intense media coverage of Aruba. Why? Was Chevron's oil fields, being nationalized in Venezuela, of such importance? Hushang Ansary seems a small player in all this, but I suppose getting the Dutch to bend on a financial takeover may have initiated some of this coverage. Was the White House blackmailing the Dutch to send those 1,200 troops to Afghanistan? Clearly, News Corporation was uninterested in a missing 18-year-old high school student from Alabama. Murdoch and the boys were up to something much larger.

On cable news - Rita Crosby of MSNBC News interviewed Dave Holloway and John Q. Kelly. The topic was feedback over the earlier interview of the Van der Sloots on Good Morning America.

Dave Holloway appraised Paulus van der Sloot as relaxed and confident. He doubts the sincerity of Paulus, because, as Dave claims, he advised his son to be uncooperative and walk the suspects thru the investigation process. Rita did acknowledge that Paulus van der Sloot denied the "no body, no crime" statement.

John Q. Kelly does not believe Paulus van der Sloot. When asked about Beth Twitty's reaction to the announcement of the Van der Sloot interview during the Super Bowl, John claimed that she was stunned. Apparently, Beth Twitty just happened over to John Q. Kelly's apartment in New York to watch the Super Bowl. John Q. denies Paulus' statements on Good Morning America by commencing a rendition on his uncooperativeness, obstructionism and discrediting his advice to his son. John feels that Paulus is covering up for his son, Joran. He reminds Rita's audience that Joran had an opportunity to clear his name in December by voluntarily meeting with Aruban Law Enforcement, and he refused. So, in John's mind, he is hiding something. In the end, Rita gets John to consent that the Van der Sloot's interview could be a prelude to a lawsuit.

Comment: Of course, if Joran van der Sloot was John Q. Kelly's client, then he would be singing the same tune of silence that Joran's attorney has advised. John Q. Kelly's feedback sincerity is questionable.

Greta of Fox News interviewed Beth Twitty. Beth feels that Paulus van der Sloot has cashed in all his favors and is now confident that he is home free. She describes Paulus in June 05 as an animal that she had to pull out of the bushes. Beth quotes the FBI telling her that they felt Natalee was dead. Beth appraises Anita as the same as when she met her in June 05. Beth avoids responding to the investigation's impact on Joran. Instead, she mentions the lawsuit Paulus has brought against the Aruban Government. She believes all three suspects are involved. Beth closes with a call for Americans to call their Senators, Congressmen and Governors to help in this case, because she says they are all you have to assist you with something happens overseas.

Greta hheld her council of Bernie Grimm, Jeff Brown and Ted Williams. Jim Hammer is in England on assignment. Bernie commenced with a statement that he knows of no family that would turn in their son. Jeff considers the case an unsolvable crime. He feels uncertain that Joran was involved in any crime against Natalee. He poses: what if Joran is innocent? He also questions whether or not Paulus ever uttered the words: "No body, No crime." Ted felt that the parents were disingenuous with their statements on Good Morning America about turning in their son.

Comment: Beth, referring to Paulus van der Sloot as animal in a bush, is most telling of her opinion of the Van der Sloots. Beth needs help!

... until tomorrow's editorial,

With Aloha, Posted for HarryTho

Posted by Richard at February 6, 2006 11:31 PM

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