When Australia’s Rupert Murdoch threw his support behind the Iraq War, so did the 175 media outlets he owns as part of News Corp. When Canada’s CanWest Global Communications justified the Afghanistan invasion, so did its eleven daily newspapers and 16 television stations. And when the major US media conglomerates signed off on the Bush administration’s invasion of Iraq, American journalists lined up right behind them. In a recent interview on PBS’s Bill Moyers Report, former CBS Evening News anchorman Dan Rather explained why journalists were so afraid to question the war.
“Fear is in every newsroom in the country . . . particularly in [the] networks,” said Rather. “They’ve become huge international conglomerates. They have big needs, legislative needs, regulatory needs in Washington. Nobody has to send you a memo to tell you that that’s the case – you know. And that puts a seed in your mind of well, ‘If you stick your neck out, if you take the risk of going against the grain with your reporting, is anybody going to back you up?’”
Although the Iraq and Afghanistan wars have shown that media conglomerates limit the diversity of views, subvert democracy and stymie journalistic integrity, Canada, America and Australia’s media regulators continue to let them expand. In fact, over the past decade, media regulators have gone out of their way to help facilitate consolidation or have refused to speak up against it – all to the detriment of the public’s interest. As each of these three countries enters another round of media convergence, their federal media watchdogs appear to be looking the other way.