US Corporate Media Deliberately Censors the News

The corporate media in the US likes to think of themselves as the official most accurate news reporting of the day. The New York Times’ motto of “all the news that’s fit to print” is a clear example of this perspective. However with corporate media coverage that increasingly focuses on a narrow range of celebrity updates, news from “official” government sources, and sensationalized crimes and disasters the self-justification of being the most fit is no longer valid in the US.

We need to broaden our understanding of censorship in the US. The dictionary definition of direct government control of news as censorship is no longer adequate. The private corporate media in the US significantly under covers and/or deliberately censors numerous important news stories every year.

The common theme of the most censored stories over the past year is the systemic erosion of human rights and civil liberties in both the US and the world at large. The corporate media ignored the fact that habeas corpus can now be suspended for anyone by order of the President. With the approval of Congress, the Military Commissions Act (MCA) of 2006, signed by Bush on October 17, 2006, allows for the suspension of habeas corpus for US citizens and non-citizens alike. While media, including a lead editorial in the New York Times October 19, 2006, have given false comfort that American citizens will not be the victims of the measures legalized by this Act, the law is quite clear that ‘any person’ can be targeted. The text in the MCA allows for the institution of a military alternative to the constitutional justice system for “any person” regardless of American citizenship. The MCA effectively does away with habeas corpus rights for all people living in the US deemed by the President to be enemy combatants.

A law enacted last year allowing the government to more easily institute martial law is another civil liberties story ignored by the corporate media in 2007. The John Warner Defense Authorization Act of 2007 allows the president to station military troops anywhere in the United States and take control of state-based National Guard units without the consent of the governor or local authorities, in order to “suppress public disorder.” The law in effect repealed the Posse Comitatus Act, which had placed strict prohibitions on military involvement in domestic law enforcement in the US since just after the Civil War.

Additionally, under the code-name Operation FALCON (Federal and Local Cops Organized Nationally) three federally coordinated mass arrests occurred between April 2005 and October 2006. In an unprecedented move, more than 30,000 “fugitives” were arrested in the largest dragnets in the nation’s history. The operations, coordinated by the Justice Department and Homeland Security, directly involved over 960 agencies (state, local and federal) and are the first time in US history that all of the domestic police agencies have been put under the direct control of the federal government.

Finally, the term “terrorism” has been dangerously expanded to include any acts that interfere, or promotes interference, with the operations of animal enterprises. The Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act (AETA), signed into law on November 27, 2006 expands the definition of an “animal enterprise” to any business that “uses or sells animals or animal products.” The law essentially defines protesters, boycotters or picketers of businesses in the US as terrorists.

Most people in the US believe in our Bill of Rights and value personal freedoms. Yet, our corporate media in the past year failed to adequately inform us about important changes in our civil rights and liberties. Despite our busy lives we want to be informed about serious decisions made by the powerful, and rely on the corporate media to keep us abreast of significant changes. When a media fails to cover these issues, what else can we call it but censorship?

A broader definition of censorship in America today needs to include any interference, deliberate or not, with the free flow of vital news information to the American people. With the size of the major media giants in the US, there is no excuse for consistently missing major news stories that affect all our lives.

Peter Phillips is a professor of Sociology at Sonoma State University, and former director of of Media Freedom Foundation/Project Censored. He wrote his dissertation on the Bohemian Club in 1994. Read other articles by Peter, or visit Peter's website.

12 comments on this article so far ...

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  1. rgaylor said on December 4th, 2007 at 9:30am #

    This is really OLD news … but it obviously bears (bares) repeating. Any one who has ever done any real historical research knows that from the very beginning all the news that newspapers deem fit to print seldom includes all of the news people in a democracy need to know. That is why one should always have a number of places to look for news … and it is quite helpful when you can actually read in a non-English language.

    Sadly most Americans can barely read anything … except prices in our corporatocractic buy buy buy asociety.


  2. rgaylor said on December 4th, 2007 at 3:52pm #

    Your hobby horse about Zionism is just accurate enough to be tolerated. I don’t disagree, but geez man, can’t you find other devils? Talk about tiresome … it has gotten to the point that when I even see your name I quit reading because I can predict enough of the rant to not even want to bother.
    My apologies to everyone else …


  3. Randy W. Sandberg said on December 4th, 2007 at 5:40pm #

    This story of is spot on and oh so worrisome. Everyday it seems like the cRaZy US government is taking something else away from us. Currently another form of freedom of speech is being attacked and, of course, the mainstream media isn’t letting anyone know about it. Google “S. 1959: Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act of 2007.?

  4. Deadbeat said on December 4th, 2007 at 7:56pm #

    Your hobby horse about Zionism is just accurate enough to be tolerated. I don’t disagree, but geez man, can’t you find other devils?

    Why look for other “devils” when what spezio bring up is being suppressed by the left. Unfortunately when it comes to censorship the left seems to be doing a great job of censoring themselves.

  5. gerald spezio said on December 5th, 2007 at 10:43am #

    How can you counter blog about the SUFFERING PALESTINIANS in the GAZA CONCENTRATION CAMP without publicizing the GAZA CONCENTRATION CAMP?

    “Hello, Rubenstein public relations – whadda we do now.”

  6. gerald spezio said on December 5th, 2007 at 11:39am #

    One hobby horse for the dying Palestinians – versus the Zionist colossus.

  7. gerald spezio said on December 5th, 2007 at 4:48pm #

    Peter, the Israelis are still murdering the Palestinians in the Gaza CONCENTRATION CAMP at this very moment.

    Left, right, or center politics – bolitics.

    This is murder.

    The horrors of all this Israeli murder has been censored.

  8. hp said on December 5th, 2007 at 5:26pm #

    So has Alexander Solzenitzen’s novel “200 Years Together.”

  9. epppie said on December 5th, 2007 at 10:09pm #

    Well said on every point.

  10. Jerry N. Soriano said on December 6th, 2007 at 7:26am #

    In the novels 1984 and Brave New World corporate censorship is rampant and the government winks at it…the news just blows over
    common man.

  11. Melissa Perez said on December 7th, 2007 at 7:47am #

    As you all know, the government filters information that will benifit economicaly and not socialy. The increase in sales of the press equals the increase in revenue.

  12. Mike McNiven said on December 8th, 2007 at 5:25pm #

    Journalists must sign the following agreement before starting their jobs:

    “First, do no harm to the readers!”