Free speech and media power

Political power in our modern times should be measured in terms of media power.  Can you be heard, or can you not be heard?  Most every terrorist, journalist, Hollywood actor, crooner, and NFL quarterback knows this.  However, what is not often clearly understood is how media power is directly related to freedom of speech.

In America, we are told again and again how we have freedom of speech, and it is true that I can publish just about anything online.  All fat puppies should be drowned in the Atlantic Ocean, I might write, and this outrageous proposal might upset a lot of people.  Therefore, they might write about it, and a few more people, other than myself, might actually read about it.  However, that's as far as it would likely go, because freedom of speech can never be separated from media power.

Freedom of speech can be measured only in terms of degrees — not in terms of have or not have.  The constitution of the former Soviet Union also guaranteed freedom of speech, but almost nobody in Moscow 50 years ago was dumb enough to believe he actually had it.  Most everyone in Russia 50 years ago knew on a knee-jerk level that what they said had to remain within the tight framework of political correctness — just as we know this here.

In fact, some truly comic chapters in American media politics have resulted when journalists and TV talk show hosts don't get this.  Whoopi Goldberg would be the latest casualty of political incorrectness, but there are other examples that are much more amusing.  Hearken back to Megyn Kelly, who had a three-year contract with NBC for 69 million dollars for a one-hour news/entertainment show following the Today Show in the morning.  One day, Megyn, believing she had freedom of speech, said she didn't see what was wrong with wearing blackface.  Oh, Megyn, poor Megyn.  As I watched her say this, I could almost see in the ripples on her face.  She knew she had made an error.  The next day, she came on her show, and copious tears began streaming down her face as she apologized for her comments.  I laughed out loud when her mascara started to smear.  I remember thinking she looked like the doorman in The Wizard of Oz when he refuses Dorothy entry to the Emerald City.  I remember thinking that if I were about to lose my 69-million-dollar contract, I'd have thrown myself to the floor, prostrate, and begged for forgiveness.  However, no amount of groveling could save Megyn.

She was canceled.

Those who can be heard are not usually stupid enough to believe they have free speech unbridled.  They are almost always progressivists because they realize there will be change, but this change will never challenge their own power.  It will augment it.  Jeff Bezos is a progressivist who owns the Washington Post.  The propaganda of this institution is this: everything is fine as long as the status quo remains, and the status quo is the global financial system, which makes Jeff Bezos one of the richest men in the world.

He can be heard.  You can't.  Therefore, you are politically irrelevant.

Freedom of speech can never be separated from media power.

Graphic credit: wiredforlegoCC BY-NC 2.0 license.

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