BY RALPH NADER
Over the years, discussions about whom the mainstream media gives voice to and whom it excludes are far too general. Editors bristle at the notion that they are anything but fair and objective. Sure, they concede that reporters miss stories, but appearances of bias or censorship, they say, are more likely due to laziness.
Well, let’s climb down the abstraction ladder and make some observations. William Kristol, an editor at The Weekly Standard, and Newt Gingrich, long retired as speaker of the House of Representatives [apart from his 2012 presidential campaign], have received in the past 15 years more national newspaper ink and more television exposure over more media outlets than all of the following public intellectuals, advocates and writers whom work on very important national subjects, put together.
- Robert Fellmeth is a law professor and prolific author. He is arguably the nation’s leading specialist and litigator on legal protections for children.
- Karen Ferguson, Esq. is the head of the Pension Rights Center in Washington, DC, the only public interest group on pensions and retirement security since the mid-‘70s. She is also a co-author of Pensions in Crisis.
- Jim Hightower is a former Texas Commissioner of Agriculture, author, advocate for progressive agendas nationwide and editor of The Hightower Lowdown publication, which has a circulation twice that of Mr. Kristol’s The Weekly Standard.
- Edgar Cahn, who with Jean Cahn conceived and lobbied through Congress the National Legal Services Program for the poor, founded the Antioch School of Law and is the most creative, hands-on expert on poverty in the U.S. and how to enlist the poor in ending it. He is a prolific author, including the groundbreaking Time Dollars, which he co-authored.
- S. David Freeman, energy expert extraordinaire, is an engineer and lawyer who ran three major public utilities: the New York Power Authority, the Sacramento Municipal Utility District, and the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power. He also stopped the construction of some nuclear power plants while chairman of the Tennessee Valley Authority, and served as an advisor to Lyndon Johnson, Jimmy Carter, and Jerry Brown.
- Professor Rena Steinzor, corporate crime specialist, is the president of the Center for Progressive Reform, a large group of academic experts on regulation and de-regulation. She is the author of the new book Why Not Jail? and a specialist in regulatory matters.
- Paul Hawken, industrialist, is widely published on the nexus between industry and ecology and the economic and environmental necessity of conversion to a green economy. His book, The Ecology of Commerce, inspired the leadership of Ray Anderson, the CEO of Interface Global at the time, in breaking new ground in combining pollution reduction and corporate efficiencies. He was named by Esquire magazine as one of the best 100 People of a Generation.
- Joel Rogers is a law professor at the University of Wisconsin where he serves as director of Center on Wisconsin Strategy [COWS], a nonpartisan social change organization. Rogers is a frequent author and consultant on national labor issues and public economic policies. He is extremely knowledgeable and articulate on politics and democratic reforms and is the founder of ALICE, a foil to corporate-backed ALEC.
- Tom Devine of the Government Accountability Project is a top expert on whistleblower rights, disclosures and the role of the judiciary in this regular front-burner subject. He is the author of The Corporate Whistleblower’s Survivor Guide.
- Robert McChesney has written numerous books on the old and new media, including his 2014 title Digital Disconnect.
- Bill Black is a former government official in the Justice Department, author and law professor. Black is a leading expert on corporate crime, corruption, negotiated settlements and obstructions to reform–topics in the news every day.
- Lori Wallach, director of Global Trade Watch, specializes in the trade agreements NAFTA, GATT, and the politics of the forthcoming Trans-Pacific Partnership before Congress and should be the go-to person on this important topic.
- Danielle Brian is the executive director of the Project On Government Oversight [POGO] where she focuses on both the big picture of national security and intricacies of topics including military contracts and the Pentagon budget.
- Colman McCarthy has been a long-standing peace advocate, who started the Center for Teaching Peace that inspired high schools and colleges across the nation to adopt peace-related courses. Through his prolific articles, he has repeatedly made the case that waging peace trumps waging war for our national and global security again and again.
- Robert McIntyre, director of Citizens for Tax Justice, is the leading expert on unfair tax breaks, tax havens and the overall dysfunction of our tax system. He is a leading go-to for reporters searching for specific company and industry data, but rarely makes national TV or print media.
- Lois Gibbs got her start in community activism protecting her hometown, Love Canal. Her movement grew to become the country’s largest grassroots anti-toxic movement with hundreds of neighborhood groups working to protect their families from the silent violence of toxic chemicals. She founded and directs the Center for Health, Environment & Justice.
- Patrick Burns is the co-director of the Taxpayers Against Fraud Educational Fund, which applies knowledge of experts and whistleblowers to enforce federal and state False Claims Acts.
- Tom Geoghegan is a nationally recognized labor union specialist and author of Whose Side Are You On and his latest Only One Thing Can Save Us. Few can speak so knowledgeably, as a scholar and practitioner, to give workers a collective voice vis-à-vis multinational corporations.
- Shelly Krimsky, a long-time Tufts University professor, is a historical and contemporary specialist on science, ethics, conflicts of interest and the deceptions and perils of genetically modified food. He is the co-editor of The GMO Deception.
- Ramsey Clark, former attorney general under President Lyndon Johnson, has devoted decades on conflict prevention, conflict resolution and opposing criminal wars of aggression.
- Steffie Woolhandler and David Himmelstein are scholars and practicing physicians who have taught at Harvard Medical School and have written pioneering reports on the failures of the health care system and the need for full Medicare for all.
- Ted Postol, a MIT engineering professor, is by far the leading technical critic of the over $7 billion a year Ballistic Missile Defense program.
- Amory Lovins and Peter Bradford both decry fossil fuels and nuclear energy in favor of solar renewables and efficient technologies, and reject the “all of the above” policy of Washington. Lovins is a physicist, author and consultant to utilities and government agencies and Bradford is a former member of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
- Arthur Rosenfeld, a prominent Berkeley physicist and advisor to state and federal governments, is the nation’s leading specialist on massive energy conservation opportunities.
- Jerry Mander of the International Forum on Globalization, a former advertising executive, has become an incisive published critic of globalized economies and what new technology is doing to damage localism.
The above knowledgeable, thoughtful, articulate Americans, mostly blocked out of the mainstream media and, for the most part, national public television and national public radio, demonstrate the media’s obsession with the tedious punditry of the well-connected corporatist and militaristic “opinion oligopoly” in Washington and New York. It is always the same old talking heads uttering the predictably same old oligarchic commentary.
It is the independent media, such as the Pacifica stations, community radio and sometimes C-Span that search for people who know the realities and reforms that resonate so often with majoritarian opinion and the public’s well-being.
People own the public airwaves. Shouldn’t they be pressing for broader and deeper uses of their property on television and radio?