Handing Rupert a monopoly

FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski is trying to change the agency’s ownership rules to pave the way for Murdoch to get control of the newspapers in the same cities where he already owns TV stations. Even more disturbing, Genachowski and Murdoch are trying to keep this under the radar, hoping we don’t notice.

Rupert Murdoch, in addition to being the malignant force behind Fox News, is the lawless conservative who’s under investigation in England for phone hacking, influence peddling and bribery. Now he wants to own the Los Angeles Times and the Chicago Tribune — major papers in the nation’s second- and third-largest cities — and the FCC wants to help him? I don’t think that’s a good idea. Do you?

Unsatisfied with his media empire in the UK and Australia and his several media holdings in the United States like TheWall Street Journal, the New York Post, and Fox News, Rupert Murdoch wants more. He wants a media monopoly.

Murdoch is currently jockeying to buy the Los Angeles Times and the Chicago Tribune, which just so happen to be the largest newspapers in the nation’s second and third largest cities. That will add to his current media empire in the United States, which includes the most watched cable news network in the nation, Fox so-called News, and the most circulated newspaper in the nation, The Wall Street Journal. The only thing standing in Murdoch’s way of full-spectrum media domination in America are Federal Communication Commission rules that forbid one company from owning both a newspaper and a television station in one community. Murdoch already owns local television stations in both Chicago and Los Angeles.

But according to sources within the FCC, Chairman Julius Genachowski is quietly planning to scrap those rules. Under pressure from major media moguls like Murdoch, who see big bucks and huge political power in a consolidated national and local media, Genachowski circulated a new order to other FCC Commissioners that would allow for cross-ownership of TV and newspapers in the nation’s twenty biggest media markets.

A similar effort was made in 2007 by George W. Bush’s FCC, but it was shot down after the Senate voted to repeal it and a federal court blocked it. Not to mention, 99% of the public comments the FCC received opposed that media consolidation effort.

But, undeterred, Murdoch and other media moguls kept lobbying, and now President Obama’s FCC is expected to consider these rule changes again in December. And if Americans don’t get involved in this issue and pressure the FCC to say “no,” then Murdoch and his billionaire buddies will likely get what they want, which is complete domination of our news media.

In fact, as Ben Bagdikian points out in his book, The New Media Monopoly, the United States is already dangerously close to falling victim to a complete media monopoly. Today, only five corporations – one of which is Rupert Murdoch’s NewsCorp – own the majority of all the media seen, read, or listened to by Americans. If the FCC gets completely out of the way, then further consolidation will follow suit.

You can send a message to the FCC here.

Maybe we should be teaching men not to rape

I was talking to a friend the other night about college rape.

“They have these orientation workshops for the girls: Don’t drink too much, don’t go to parties alone, get a friend to walk you home,” she said. “But they don’t have workshops for the guys, telling them not to rape. Which would be a lot more useful, right?”

I keep thinking about this. I know at some schools, they have “No means no” workshops for the male students but they sound a little impractical, given the frequent violence and insane peer pressure involved. “Do I have your permission to kiss you?” may not cut it.

What they need to teach them is more along the lines of, “What do you do at a frat party when several of your fraternity brothers take an incoherently drunk and possibly drugged girl upstairs? What are your legal and ethical obligations to that girl? Who do you call? How do you stop it?”

I think some kind of anti-rape seminar should be mandatory for all male students, but especially fraternity members and college athletes, whose cultures are, if not rape-friendly, frequently rape-dismissive.

I’ve had guys tell me about college girls who were sexually wild, who wanted to have sex with several men at a frat party. My response is that while there are certainly women seeking those experiences, you shouldn’t assume that every woman who’s in that situation is fully voluntary — especially if it’s public. There is frequently an element of coercion and maybe it’s better to assume that kind of pressure, rather than consent.

And then we have the added complication of date rape drugs, which are far too common on campus. You might be assigning autonomy to someone who’s actually under their influence.

These are complex issues for young people to navigate. Schools should develop policies, teach them to the students, and actually enforce them. Far too many young college women are raped. It’s time we started teaching the men to stand up against it, too.

(H/t Car Accident Attorney John Yannone.)

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