Chicago - Dec. 6, 2018
Music TV Politics Sports Books People Places & Things
 
Beachwood Politics
Our monthly archive.
Who We Are
Chicago by the numbers.
Sausage Links
Wiki Daley
Wiki Rahm
Illinois Channel
CAN TV
Ralph Martire
Doonesbury
Government Attic
Division Street
Indie Political Report
The Obameter
ProPublica
The Intercept
SCOTUS Blog
American Dream Betrayed

Do U.S. Oligarchs Exist? Not In Mainstream Media

TV news shows are good at getting viewers riled up. Day and night, I hear the anchors on CNN and MSNBC getting us riled up about the schemes of this or that "Russian oligarch with links to the Kremlin." I've heard that phrase incessantly in recent weeks.

And plenty of others have heard the "Russian oligarch" phrase. Merriam-Webster.com reported that "oligarch" was one of its most searched-for words on April 5th "following reports that Robert Mueller had questioned Russian businessmen to whom this descriptor applies."

But here's a phrase I haven't heard from any of the purportedly progressive hosts on MSNBC: "A U.S. oligarch with links to Washington."

That avoidance is revealing when one considers an indisputable fact: U.S. oligarchs have done far more to undermine U.S. democracy than any Russian.

Screen Shot 2018-04-12 at 3.43.42 PM.png

Take, for example, Brian L. Roberts - who certainly fits the dictionary definition of "oligarch" as "one of a small group of powerful people who control a country or an industry." As chair and CEO of Comcast, Roberts runs the company his dad founded and has sole voting rights over one-third of the corporation's stock. His compensation last year of $28.6 million was less than what 14 other U.S. oligarchs - I mean, CEOs - "earned." His net worth is estimated to be over $1.65 billion.

Does this oligarch have "links to Washington?" In one recent year, Comcast devoted nearly $19 million to lobbying, second only to military-industrial firm Northrop Grumman. Last year, Comcast spent more than $15 million lobbying. And oligarch Roberts has been a top D.C. power player for decades, having gotten his way with one president after another - from President Clinton's deregulatory, anti-consumer Telecommunications Act of 1996 to President Trump's current effort to end net neutrality on behalf of Comcast and other giant internet providers.

Clinton's pro-conglomeration Telecom Act and Trump's net neutrality assault have both undermined U.S. democracy. No Russian had a hand in it. (You may have heard that the Trump-propagandist Sinclair Broadcast Group will soon own more than 200 local TV stations; until the Telceom Act, a company could legally own no more than 12.)

You've got to hand it to U.S. oligarchs; so many of them stay on top no matter which party runs Washington. They sure have greater staying power than Russian oligarchs - who, we're constantly told, end up dead or in prison if they fall out of favor with President Putin.

Roberts certainly has the lifestyle of an oligarch. He maintains a seasonal dacha - I mean, second home - in Martha's Vineyard, where he keeps his custom-built Sparkman & Stephens sloops, and where he has hosted President Obama, including at an A-list cocktail party thrown for the then-president in August 2013. And Roberts just built a sprawling mansion in North Palm Beach, not far from Trump's Mar-a-Lago.

But his primary residence is in Philadelphia; Obama has been a regular presence at Comcast mansions there as well. In 2013, speaking at a Democratic Party fundraiser in the Philadelphia home of Roberts' top lobbyist, Obama said, "I have been here so much, the only thing I haven't done in this house is have Seder dinner."

While Russian oligarchs are often passionate game-hunters, Roberts is an avid golfer, carrying an impressive 8 handicap. Obama has famously golfed with him "on the lush fairways of the Vineyard Golf Club."

There's one last factoid I need to add about Roberts. As Comcast's CEO, he is the ultimate boss of those allegedly progressive hosts on MSNBC. Which may help to explain their silence about U.S. oligarchs, since it would be difficult to bring up the topic without mentioning their boss.

* * *

I really shouldn't single out Roberts. Nor the MSNBC hosts he employs. Because the problem goes way beyond this particular oligarch and that particular corporate news outlet.

Roberts is just one of dozens of powerful U.S. oligarchs. They compose a "U.S. ruling class" and preside over a "corporate state" - a couple more phrases one virtually never hears in mainstream U.S. media. One reason these oligarchs get little critical coverage and no systemic scrutiny is because - as in Russia - oligarchs are owners or major sponsors of mainstream media.

Let me be clear, so as to not overstate things: Fox News hosts are free to tarnish certain oligarchs, Democratic ones like George Soros - and MSNBC hosts gleefully go after Republican oligarchs like the Mercers and the Koch brothers.

But to get a more accurate and complete view of the workings of the U.S. political system (aka "U.S. oligarchy"), I have a suggestion: Disconnect from MSNBC, CNN, Fox and other corporate news sources and turn instead to high-quality, independent progressive media.

If you do, you'll see that the problems plaguing U.S. democracy and the U.S. economy are definitely the work of oligarchs. But they don't speak Russian.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License.

-

Comments welcome.



Permalink

Posted on April 12, 2018


MUSIC - Who's Next In Chicago Rap.
TV - Tribune-Nexstar Deal Is Bad News.
POLITICS - Big Soda Hates You.
SPORTS - The Ex-Cub Factor.

BOOKS - Wright Brothers, Wrong Story!

PEOPLE PLACES & THINGS - The Bad News About Human Nature.


Search The Beachwood Reporter

Subscribe To Our Newsletter
Email:

Follow BeachwoodReport on Twitter



Beachwood Radio!