I have been reading Copper Chorus by Dennis Swibold. This excellent book chronicles “mining, politics and the Montana press” during the reign of the Copper Kings. The one thing that struck me almost immediately were the many parallels between the Montana Copper Press and Fox News.
For more than sixty years, Anaconda Copper Mining owned, or held a major interest in all of the major daily newspapers in Montana and many of the weekly papers. During that time, the papers toed the line and closely followed Company doctrine. Copper companies controlled politics and politicians in Montana. They bought and sold state and national legislative seats. News was skewed in subtle and not-so-subtle ways so that the Company always came out looking good. It was the undeclared job of the company press to protect the profits of ACM and the fortunes of the Copper Trust Bosses. Unions were always portrayed as evil. Only political candidates backed by mining interests got mention in the copper dailies. Labor strife, mining accidents and incidents reflecting poorly on mining interests went unreported. Taxes on Anaconda Copper were always reported as being very high, even though the exact opposite was true. Peccadilloes and actual crimes of Company officials or Company-backed politicos never saw the light of day. Daily newspapers, the only source of news in major Montana markets, both directly lied to their readers and omitted important news stories.
As a result, citizens of Montana were notably misinformed on important issues in a majority of news markets. Many were simply amazed when they had access to newspapers from outside of the state and saw what actual reporting looked like. Yesterday, I saw a study by the University of Maryland detailing how viewers of Fox News are significantly misinformed on issues of the day. Fox viewers believe that their income taxes have gone up under the current administration. They believe that Republicans did not vote for the TARP under President Bush. They don’t believe that most scientists think global warming is occurring. They are not even sure that the President was born in the United States. Worse than that, the study even found that Democrats who watch a significant amount of Fox News are more likely to be misinformed!
Reading this study instantly brought to mind the way Montana news was contorted under the thumb of Anaconda Copper. Fox deliberately lies to and misinforms it’s viewers in order to protect the profits of it’s corporate bosses and wealthy backers. Fox viewers are done a grievous disservice while believing that what they are being told is what is really happening. They hold substantially false beliefs about our economy and our political leaders. They often vote in direct opposition to their own welfare in order to protect the interests of the wealthy and corporations.
Fox News is the Montana Copper Press gone global. Billionaires pursuing their own petty agenda of greed have created their own national propaganda machine to misinform and control public opinion. Marcus Daily and William Clark have morphed into Ruppert Murdoch and David Koch on a grander scale, but the modus operandi remains the same. Tell your readers/viewers only what you want them to hear, lie if necessary and only pass on that which benefits the bottom line of your corporate interests. Control the news and you control the minds the people. The Copper Trust knew that and so does Fox News.