August 3, 2007 | The Project Censored team researched the board members of 10 major media organizations from newspaper to television to radio. Of these ten organizations, we found there are 118 people who sit on 288 different American and international corporate boards proving a close on-going interlock between big media and corporate America. We found media directors who also were former Senators or Representatives in the House such as Sam Nunn (Disney) and William Cohen (Viacom). Board members served at the
FCC such as William Kennard (New York Times) and Dennis FitzSimmons (Tribune Company) showing revolving door relationships with big media and U.S. government officials.
These ten big media organizations are the main source of news for most Americans. Their corporate ties require us to continually scrutinize the quality of their news for bias. Disney owns ABC so we wonder how the board of Disney reacts to negative news about their board of directors friends such as Halliburton or Boeing. We see board members with connections to Ford, Kraft, and Kimberly-Clark who employ tens of thousands of Americans. Is it possible that the U.S. workforce receives only the corporate news private companies want them to hear? Do we collectively realize that working people in the U.S. have longer hours, lower pay and fewer benefits than their foreign counterparts? If these companies control the media, they control the dissemination of news turning the First Amendment on its head by protecting corporate interests over people.
What is missing in the report is the board interlock between corporate media, corporate America and foundations, including think tanks. Dr. Joel Orosz, founder of The Grantmaking School, writes:
Since foundations are undisciplined by the market, electorate, or funders, their only impetus for improvement comes from their (generally) self-perpetuating board of trustees. If you are a foundation leader, your imperative thus is a simple one: keep the board happy, and you will keep your job. So, what makes a board happy? The answer is easy: pride-inducing success. What makes a board unhappy? The answer is equally easy: embarrassing failure.
Perhaps we can now understand the bland tone and tenor of so much philanthro-blogging. The more connected the blogger, the more they know, the more polite and innocuous the posts. I used to think that the simpering, upbeat prose of the best positioned philanthropy bloggers was a peripheral issue. I assumed they were good kids growing up, well raised, teacher pleasers, who had gravitated to safe, prestigious, inside work. But now I realize that "not embarrassing the Board" - not embarrassing the interlocked Board - is the name of the game and is actually taught to them as the prime directive in their Grantmaking School! Root Causes in Pinstripes sit on the Board. We have the solution reporting to the problem. Offline, some philantro-bloggers email me in anguish, caught in the bind between expressing what they feel and remaining chipper, upbeat, and inoffensive. So far good career sense is winning out over truth. The Emperor on the Board is always well-dressed. I name no bloggers and do not link because the smiling cubicle slaves are my friends. Their emotional labor is much to be pitied. On their tombstone may it be written, "At least they Never Embarrassed Candida Cruikshanks."
UPDATE: Please not the kind comment from Dr. Orosz in the comments below. I am afraid he has embarrassed me a bit in front of my boss, Candidia, but she is going to let me off with a beating. She made me apologize to him for getting the facts, including his name, wrong. But she also asked me to convey to him that she will not be pleased if he teaches foundation people to take her lightly. "Embarrass me at your own risk, Joel. Unless - what? You have tenure? Another reason I as a trustee at Grand Valley State support American Council of Trustees and Alumni. We are going to get you tenured radicals thrown out on your behinds. Remember Ward Churchill."