Media Beat: FROM ITALY, HERE COMES 'MEDIA' DEMOCRACY
by Norman Solomon
American Reporter Correspondent
WASHINGTON -- Now that Italy's voters have given the job of prime = minister to media magnate Silvio Berlusconi, others may wish to follow his = example on this side of the Atlantic.
Later in the decade, we could see something like this:
MODERATOR: "Welcome to a nationally televised debate between the = leading contenders for the presidency of the United States. We begin tonigh= t with brief statements from each candidate."
RUPERT MURDOCH: "First, I'd like to thank six courageous Supreme = Court justices -- Rehnquist, Scalia, Thomas, Hatch, Starr and Sheindlin. T= heir decision tells my critics, 'You're full of baloney!' Being a naturaliz= ed U.S. citizen shouldn't stop me from becoming president. My dedication to= the free market transcends any narrow constitutional fixations. A few year= s ago, my Fox TV network pioneered the terrific populist program 'Who Wants= to Marry a Millionaire?' Now, I ask the American people, 'Who wants to ele= ct this billionaire?'"
BARRY DILLER: "I may not be quite as rich as Mr. Murdoch, b= ut I created the entire industry of home shopping channels. Thus, I am best= qualified to enact across-the-board reform measures for 'e-government.' Wh= en you see a candidate you like on television, if you have enough cash or c= redit, you should be able to call in and make a purchase on the spot."
STEVE CASE: "As the man who built America Online, I know wh= at's truly possible in this multimedia era. And I propose to digitize --wit= h great efficiencies and savings -- the most essential government functions= , such as locking some people up. As president, my message to criminals wou= ld be simple and direct: 'You've got jail!'"
STEVE FORBES: "I'm not impressed. Mr. Case may be running A= OL Time Warner, but he's hardly a worthy successor to Henry Luce. The real = message from the liberal media to the criminal element is, 'You've got bail= !' And I'm also not impressed by the tiny tax-cut proposals of my opponents= . Out here in the real world, where I own Forbes magazine, our futures ar= e measured by profit margins. Let's cut to the chase: The only tax bill wor= thy of America is zero."
MODERATOR: "Thank you, Mr. Forbes."
FORBES: "And another thing. As CEO of the U.S.A, I won't beco= ntent until we've demolished every last remnant of socialism in thiscountry= , from public works and public libraries to public schools andpublic square= s. I say, let freedom ring. If people want to read a book orsit on a park b= ench, they can damn well pay for it first."
SUMNER REDSTONE: "Let's not be reactionary, Steve. Everhear= d of public-private partnerships? Some technologies need help from thetaxpa= yer until they become sufficiently mature for optimum use in themedia marke= tplace. For instance, my record of running Viacom proves that Iknow how to = make the most out of the latest digital advances. How else doyou suppose on= e of our subsidiaries, Paramount, made a $70 million profitfrom the feature= movie 'Beavis and Butt-Head Do America'?"
MODERATOR: "Thank you. As I'm sure each candidate canapprec= iate, airtime doesn't grow on trees -- so, we only have a couple ofminutes = left. The networks were promised that we'd keep this short."
MU= RDOCH: "The motto of my campaign is, 'I'll report,you'll decide.' I und= erstand the need for clear communication withcustomers, and I would give th= e same solicitous treatment to all citizens.Whether it's News Corp. or Amer= ica Corp., I'm at your service."
DILLER: "My resume already includes being in charge of U.S.AN= etworks Inc., and I've generated big profits for investors. Allow me todo t= he same for taxpayers. I got millions of people to keep watchingproductions= like 'The Jerry Springer Show.' Surely I can do a superb jobof selling Ame= rica to America."
REDSTONE: "Well, at Viacom, one of our divisions justhappen= s to be the biggest advertising company on the planet. No one knowshow to s= ell better than I do. And I'm ready to serve the greatest clientever -- Unc= le Sam."
FORBES: "I defer to no one in patriotic reverence for theen= trepreneurial spirit that enabled me to inherit so much from my father.I ca= n convey to this nation that the future is wealth."
CASE: "Right now, too many of our fellow citizens don'thave= a ISP dot to click on. Yet we've realized that the future is incyberspace.= Let me take all of us there. Support the vision of AmericaAnywhere. It's e= asy and it's fun. No wonder America is number one!"
Norman Solomon's l= atest book is "The Habits of Highly Deceptive Media."His syndicated column = focuses on media and politics.