Mar 31, 2003
Over the last few weeks, there have been pro-war "Rally for America" demonstrations in several cities around the country, including Chicago, Fort Wayne, Duluth, Memphis, Charleston, and Sacramento. These demonstrations have been relatively small, a few hundred to a few thousand people – compared to the waves of enormous anti-war demonstrations that have swept the country in big cities and small over the last several months.
But the small size of the pro-war demonstrations didn't prevent the mass media, especially television and radio, from giving them more coverage than all the anti-war demonstrations combined.
No surprise, given who set these demonstrations in motion and paid for them: Clear Channel Communications or one of its local affiliates or sponsors, one of the biggest media companies in the country. It owns over 1,200 radio stations with 20% of the entire radio audience, an estimated 100 million listeners. Clear Channel also owns 50 television stations.
The top management at Clear Channel – based in San Antonio, Texas – has a long history of close business and political ties to President Bush. Its vice chairman, Tom Hicks, was chairman of the University of Texas Investment Management Company, and Clear Channel's chairman, Lowry Mays, was on its board when part of the university's endowment was handed over to the Bush family for its own private enrichment.
Just as on the economic levels, so on the political level. Clear Channel, with its huge resources, has always provided a platform for rabid, right-wing, reactionary propaganda, all day, every day. It has an entire stable of talk show hosts, including such headliners as Rush Limbaugh and Dr. Laura Schlesinger.
Of course, one hand washes the other. Clear Channel regularly gets favorable political treatment, including legislation, subsidies and tax breaks, as well as favorable regulation by the FCC (Federal Communications Commission), the supposed public watchdog.
Just as the Bush administration is making hay for the big oil companies, military contractors and construction companies with its bloody, barbaric war in Iraq, so Clear Channel does a bit of Bush's dirty work here at home, marketing the war, both in the air and on the streets – all for a big, fat profit.