May 25, 2003  ·  Lessig

Frank Rich has a great piece in the Times today about MediaCon.

” Though liberal and conservative organizations alike, from Common Cause to the National Rifle Association, are protesting this further consolidation of media power, most of the country is oblivious to it. That’s partly because the companies that program America’s matrix have shut out all but bare-bones coverage of the imminent F.C.C. action, much as the ruling machines in “The Matrix” do not feed their captive humans any truths that might set them free.”

If you think Frank Rich is right, you might want to write the NY Times and ask, why is it the Times has “shut out all but bare-bones coverage of the imminent F.C.C. action”?

  • Jonas Cord

    Mr. Lessig, I think the best of you – but I have to say, Frank Rich’s elitist rambling in the Arts & Leisure section of the NYT is exactly the kind of condenscending hyperbole that’s going to erode support for any of the issues that Rich addresses in the article. More or less, he’s another subscriber to the “Media brainwashes the dumb masses” line – a line, that despite our opposition to Media consolidation, restrictive Copyright law, and so forth – that we can not afford to take. Either we are going to respect the opinions of our fellow citizens and try to persuade them to our point of view – or we can fail abysmally by treating them like mentally ill children warped by big media conspiracies. I think the choice is clear – both pragmatically and morally.

  • Howard Beale

    It’s too bad Rich has departed the larger stage of the Op Ed page for the Arts & Leisure “soft section.” He and Paul Krugman have been among the most important voices not yet sedated by the Bush administration’s victory song.

    I would also note the fact that Rich rightly reminds us that Barry Diller remains the most honest, most clear-thinking media mogul playing in the arena right now. Give Diller credit for continuing to speak the truth about his Sun Valley buddies.

  • Russ Taylor

    As a ‘captive human’ in the Matrix, I completely agree with the comments of Jonas Cord. This debate should be about an empirical review of whether certain media and communications ownership structures will reduce or enhance (i) diversity; (ii) free expression; and (iii) creativity. Rants about ‘media giants’ and the questionable assumptions (about media power) that accompany that type of argument needlessly diminish the debate. I generally support reduced media ownership (and cross-ownership) regulation at the FCC, but still appreciate a debate on the merits — not a debate filled with straw men, junk (social) science, etc.

  • Lessig

    Frank Rich does seem to inspire strong feelings. But my point was not so much about the substance of what he says — on which reasonable people can differ — as the venue of where he says it. One important complaint about this debate is that it is not being reported by the mainstream media — which is particularly troubling since they are the ones most likely to be benefited by the change. I pointed to Rich’s column because it is (1) a piece in the NY Times that is (2) indirectly criticizing the NY Times. Whatever the substance, that fact itself is important.

  • John Gordon

    So is Rich’s article part of the “bare-bones coverage” that he describes?

    It’s difficult for the news media to report on itself, and even more difficult for the media to report on the interests of its controlling companies.

    The only way that an increasingly centralized media can work as a free press is suppose to work is if the leadership of the controlling company remains disinterested in coverage of itself. I think that hoping for this sort of benevolence is hoping for too much.

  • loujosephs

    The FCC hearing in DC is open to the Public on June 2nd and it will be webcast. Details on my blog.