by Norman Solomon
American Reporter Correspondent
May 17, 2001
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 rèsumé 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.