How much of the “news” that we consume and the “research” that it is based on is bought, paid for, and subservient to, corporate masters? Historically tobacco and drug companies are well known cases where corporations have poured huge amounts of money and energy into manipulating the news. How much of it is still going on? What other corporations are doing the same?
I doubt that we will ever know the full extent of corporate control of the media. But one thing we can do is raise awareness of the proven cases, such as for example the multi-million dollar ExxonMobil campaign against climate change science. Recently another attempted case has come to light:
Emails expose BP’s attempts to control research into impact of Gulf oil spill
Documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act show BP officials discussing how to influence the work of scientists
Documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act show BP officials openly discussing how to influence the work of scientists supported by the fund, which was created by the oil company in May last year.
Russell Putt, a BP environmental expert, wrote in an email to colleagues on 24 June 2010: “Can we ‘direct’ GRI [Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative] funding to a specific study (as we now see the governor’s offices trying to do)? What influence do we have over the vessels/equipment driving the studies vs the questions?”.
… The documents are expected to reinforce fears voiced by scientists that BP has too much leverage over studies into the impact of last year’s oil disaster. … There is no evidence in the emails that BP officials were successful in directing research. The fund has since established procedures to protect its independence.
Other documents obtained by Greenpeace suggest that the politics of oil spill science was not confined to BP. The White House clashed with officials from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) last summer when drafting the administration’s account of what has happened to the spilled oil. …
… Kert Davies, Greenpeace US research director, said the oil company had crossed a line. “It’s outrageous to see these BP executives discussing how they might manipulate the science programme,” Davies said. “Their motivation last summer is abundantly clear. They wanted control of the science.” … A number of scientists had earlier expressed concerns that BP would attempt to point scientists to convenient areas of study – or try to suppress research that did not suit its business. …
Of course BP wants to control the “research” and the “news” relating to the spill. Greenpeace obtained these documents relating to one aspect of their efforts. But what else are they trying? Was that the tip of the iceberg? We the public will never know the extent to which BP has been successful in its attempts.
Let’s keep all this in mind as our own government continues to offer utterly meaningless reassurances on the prospect of drilling off shore from New Zealand’s “100% pure” clean and green coastline.