A few days back, Jon Stewart had a great segment ridiculing CNN for “playing journalist” by getting tough on an SNL skit for “not getting the facts right,” even though CNN regularly allows health insurance shills to trash healthcare reform without subjecting them to the same fact check that they give to the comedy skit.
The sad thing is that CNN’s pro-corporate bias no longer outrages, or even surprises, us. This country is becoming more cynical, accepting the Pravda-ization of its media with a “yeah, no shit” shrug. Kind of like how Russians cynically accepted Pravda long after knowing it was full of shit. We know that there’s an overarching Corporate Party line, and a handful of organs that spread its propaganda.
As someone who escaped the Soviet Union as a kid, I can tell you that we in America even have a similar pseudo-segmented media as the Soviets had: CNN is our version of cooler-head, centrist Izvestia; FOX News is our version of hardcore-ideologue Pravda; and MSNBC is kind of like the more scandalous/youth-oriented news outlet Komsomolskaya Pravda. And just like their Soviet doppelgangers, our network media stars—you know, Glenn Beck, Wolf Blitzer, Olbermann—might differ in style and content, but they all jingle the dingle-berries of the same master: the Central Corporate Committee of the United States of America. But for some reason we still call it news.
Just for fun, I cruised over to the website of CNN’s corporate master, Time Warner, to check out who serves on its board. It was like staring at an oligarchy’s family-tree.
Here’s a partial dossier on about half of them:
James L. Barksdale – Expert Palm Greaser
He was the CEO of AT&T, was on President Bush’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board and held various senior executive positions in FedEx for over a decade and was in large part responsible for the company’s rise to success. Here’s how Open Secrets describes the company’s MO:
FedEx Corp is the world’s top express delivery service, thanks in large part to its close relationship with members of Congress and the White House. For years, the company has been a major campaign contributor to both Democrats and Republicans and is famous for its unique lobbying tactics, including the fleet of private planes that it keeps on stand-by for lawmakers who need to jet off at a moment’s notice. In exchange, the company has gotten unparalleled access to debates over international trade, tax cuts and rules that govern the business practices of its one-time competitor, the United States Postal Service.
Stephen F. Bollenbach – Real Estate Goon
Bollenbach was the CEO of Hilton Hotels Corp. until he was called in to clean up and minimize damage from the massive fraud of KB Home’s former chief executive, Bruce Karatz—which makes Bollenback sorta like the Wolf in Pulp Fiction.
Frank J. Caufield — Corporate Con Master
Co-Founder and Partner Emeritus of Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, one of the largest venture capital firms in the U.S. He’s been part of too many corporate con jobs to attempt to list here. But since we started talking about healthcare, here’s an example: Caufield was on the board of directors of Caremark, Inc. Better known as CVS Pharmacy, the company has been ripping off its customers, Medicare and just about anyone else it could find: In 1995, it was fined $161 million in fines for “kickbacks and fraud in its home infusion, oncology, hemophilia and human growth hormone businesses.” In 2005, it agreed to pay a $137.5 million fine for various drug pricing shenanigans. In 2008, it agreed to pay $38.5 million settlement of claims that it was “deceptive when it encouraged patients to switch prescription drugs under the guise of saving money.”
Jessica P. Einhorn — Third-world Molester
She’s the dean of Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University, a post held by Paul Wolfowitz before he assumed the post of Deputy Secretary of Defense. She worked at World Bank for two decades, cycling through treasurer, vice-president and managing director positions. Einhorn also served in the U.S. Department of the Treasury. And lately, it looks like she’s been hanging out with Former Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson, who joined the faculty of Johns Hopkins’ School of Advanced International Studies. That’s where he’s lying low after fleeing the whole wealth transfer/bailout scheme he pushed through last year.
Michael A. Miles – Speculator & Jack of all Cons
Partner in Forstmann Little & Company, which through heavy speculation ballooned to become the largest private equity firm in the world during the Internet Bubble. He was also the CEO of Phillip Morris Companies, so you know he’s on the side of the masses.
Kenneth J. Novack – Oligarch Defender
Senior Counsel of “Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris, Glovsky and Popeo,” the most ridiculously-named law firm in America, and also one of its largest and most prestigious. It specializes in energy, finance, insurance, healthcare, real estate and construction—enough said. (It represents CVS Pharmacy. Golly! What a coincidence!)
And then there’s this: A few days ago, Media Matters exposed CNN contributor Alex Castellanos as a shameless healthcare industry operative:
Media Matters for America has obtained evidence that CNN contributor Alex Castellanos’ political consulting firm, National Media, is the ad buyer for the insurance industry group America’s Health Insurance Plan’s (AHIP) new ad blitz attacking Democratic health reform plans. CNN has a responsibility to insure that Castellanos’ obvious conflict of interest does not tarnish their future coverage of the health care debate.
According to the detailed ad buy information obtained by Media Matters, Castellanos is responsible for placing, beginning October 11, more than $1 million of AHIP advertising in five states.
This setup is almost too corrupt. Think about it: the guy who recently got CNN paid a cool $1 million dollars is also the guy they just hired to be their political commentator. Kinda looks like a kickback scheme, don’t it? Or maybe it was one of the clauses in CNN’s contract with AHIP: the lobby group will give CNN business only if the network lets their operative shill for the insurance industry lobby from the inside.
It’s win-win for both AHIP and Castellanos. Not only is he milking both parties—the buyer and the seller—he’s also in a perfect position to make sure the healthcare industry is getting its ad money’s worth by defending his masters against unruly guests. Just a few weeks ago, Castellanos led the rabid pack of commentators on Wolfe Blitzer’s Situation Room in trying to discredit Rep. Alan Grayson. But he didn’t faze our man Grayson, not even with Blitzer’s help. Watch:
Got something to say to us? Then send us a letter.
Want us to stick around? Donate to The eXiled.
Twitter twerps can follow us at twitter.com/exiledonline