The full remarks can be accessed at the above link, the Moyers video is on the front page there in QT if you need it. The direct YouTube links to the speech are re-printed here:
If you have a YouTube account then you can go over there to uprate and comment on the video.
In the first part he starts with a great joke:
Benjamin Franklin once said that Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for dinner. Liberty, he said, is a well-armed lamb contesting the vote.
So, my fellow lambs, it’s good to be in Memphis to find you well-armed with a passion for Democracy and readiness for action …
Then he tells a great version of an old joke, as only a 1917 Reform Church of God Southern Baptist can.
He begins his remarks with a discussion of the media consolidation that is wreaking havoc on the system and how the media reform movement faces such a huge uphill battle, “a daunting task.”
A series of mega media mergers have swept the country. Each deal bigger than the last. The lobby representing the broadcast, cable and newspaper industry was extremely powerful with an iron grip on lawmakers and regulators alike. Both parties bowed to their will when the Congress passed and Clinton signed The Telecommunications Act of 1996. That monstrous assault on democracy and it’s malignant consequences for journalism was nothing but a Welfare give away to the largest richest and most powerful media conglomerations in the world. Goliaths whose handful of owner’s controlled commodified and monetized everyone and everything in sight.
Call it: The Plantation Mentality.
That’s what struck me as I flew into Memphis for this conference. Even in 1968, the civil rights movement was still battling the plantation mentality based on race, gender and power that permeated Southern culture long before and even after the groundbreaking legislation of the 1960’s.
When Martin Luther King came to Memphis to join the striker of the garbage workers in 1968 the cry from every strikers heart, “I am A Man,” voiced the long suppressed outrage of people whose rights were still being trampled by an ownership class that had arranged the world for it’s own benefit. The Plantation Mentality is a phenomenon deeply insinuated in the American experience early on and it has permeated and corrupted our course as a nation.
So you can see he really gets it started with a bang, he gets better from here.
- Quoting another reformer Teddy Roosevelt: “Our democracy he said, ‘is now put to a vital test, for the conflict is between human rights on the one side and on the other special privileged asserted as property rights. The parting of the ways has come.’ ”
- On class in America: “None of this is accidental. Nobel Laureate, Robert Solow characterizes what is happening as nothing less than Elite Plunder.” Moyers tells us that the richest people in the country now have twice the share of the wealth as compared to their counterparts on the eve of the American Revolution. “The conspiracies of the rich have proven prophetic.”
- On why he’s in Memphis: “Something is a miss, you bet something is a miss. And it goes to why were are all here. The media is a force that cuts deep to the foundation of democracy… The third pillar of democracy, an independent press, is under sustained attack and the channels of information are being choked.”
- On conglomeration: “Two huge media corporations now dominate the media landscape in America… As ownership gets more and more concentrated fewer independents” can survive and those that do are “are under growing financial and political pressure to reduce critical news content and to shift their focus in a mainstream direction which means being more attentive to establishment views than to the bleak realities of powerlessness that shape the lives of ordinary people. “
He talks at length about the media’s performance in the run-up to the invasion of Iraq. He concludes that ABC, NBC, CBS, CNN, FOX and PBS all combined to deliver to the American people:
a propaganda feast that Saddam himself would have envied. It is absolutely, I’m doing a documentary to air this spring on this period leading up to the war called Buying The War. It is absolutely, it is absolutely stunning, frightening how the major media organizations were willing, even solicitous hand-puppets of a state propaganda campaign cheered on by a partisan ideological press to go to war.
He starts in on money and politics:
Compared to the magnitude of the problem, what the average person knows about how money determines policy is negligible. In fact, most people, in the abstract, assume that money controls our political system, but people rarely act on the abstract… People have to see how money and politics actually works and concretely grasp the consequences for their pocketbooks and their lives before they will act…
But while media organizations supply a lot of news and commentary, they tell us almost nothing about who really wags the system and how. When I watch one of those faux debates on a Washington public affairs show with one politician saying, “this is a good bill,” and one politician saying, “this is a bad bill,” I yearn to see the … anchor interrupt and say: “Good bill or bad bill, this is a bought bill. Now let’s cut to the chase, who’s financial interests are you advancing with this bill?”
That segues into the remarks about the “free trade” that our government is fully committed to although these policies exclusively benefit the elites in our society while impoverishing the middle-class in this country today:
Then there’s the social cost of free trade. For over a decade free trade has hovered over the political system like a biblical commandment striking down anything: trade unions; the environment; indigenous rights and even the constitutional standing of our own laws passed buy our elected representatives that gets in the way of unbridled greed.
The negative consequences of this agenda get virtually no attention in the dominant media. Instead of reality, we get optimistic, multi-cultural scenarios of “coordinated global growth” and instead of substantive debate we get a stark formulaic choice between free trade to help the world and gloomy sounding protectionism that will set everyone back.
[The lack of honest debate on trade] is reflected in Thomas Friedman’s astonishing claim … that he endorsed CAFTA without even reading it that is simply because it stood for quote free trade. We have reached the stage when the pooh-bahs of punditry have only to declare that the world is flat for everyone to agree it is without going to the edge and looking over for themselves.
Mr Moyers ends the first clip by reminding us of an essential truth about the slave owner or plantati
on master. He lives in constant fear. He constantly fears that one day his chattel, fellow humans, will stand upright free from their fear and ask: why? How can this be? And Say, “No More.”
[When a slave says] the boss man has been lying to me. Something is wrong with this system. This is the moment when freedom begins. The moment you realize someone else has been writing your story and it’s time you took the pen from his hand and started writing it yourself.
When the garbage workers struck here in 1968 and the walls of these buildings echoed with the cry: “I am a man,” they were writing their story. Martin Luther King came here to help them tell it, only to be shot dead on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel. The bullet killed him, but it couldn’t kill the story because once the people start telling their own story you can’t kill it anymore.
Dr. King often spoke about “what he was trying to do” in his lifetime. The thing that always stays with me is when he said that he was trying to change the power structure of a mighty country without the power of force. He was trying to change the system because it was corrupt and cried out for change.
The change would be natural and would come if the people knew. If the people only knew then they would have their well deserved prize. That system ignored the stories of the powerless and flooded the zone with stories of fear and division. But King showed us that ordinary Americans win the battle when their stories are told without bias or derision.
And that is the ultimate power, the power and persuasiveness of truth. But that power is not enough. It must be coupled with a hunger to “not be satisfied until justice rolls down like water and righteouness like a mighty stream,” and a driving force to tell the truth and portray reality.
Enjoy your day off. And remember to thank him for his service and sacrifice to our country when we needed him so greatly.
And that’s just the first half of the speech. Woof.
Jesus H Christ, you have to go and check out this video. The whole second half of the hour long remarks starts with a discussion of how we stand up, as bloggers, and say, “I am a man,” just like all those Americans have had to do before us and strike down our boss man’s plantation reality. Strike down their manufactured reality and replace it with reality deeply rooted in truth and justice for all Americans.
We have to start telling our own stories. You’re a blogger so you’re halfway there.
So you get out there. Tell a story. Tell a truth. Tell it. Tell it over and over and over again. Don’t be concerned with maximizing your effect, be concerned only with telling the maximum truth.
As Thousands Gather in Memphis for National Media Reform Conference, A Look at the State of the U.S. Media from Democracy Now. Video broadcast from the conference with Amy Goodman can be found at their website as well.
‘We Have To Tell The Story Ourselves’ from TomPaine.com
Kos Diaries on the event: