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This fine piece points out just how powerful and dangerous media hegemony is to our democracy.

THE UNMAKING OF A PRESIDENT-2004
By Carl Jensen

Howard Dean supporters across the country were surprised when they woke up Tuesday morning, January 19, to read reports of Dean's unexpected third place finish in the Iowa caucuses.

What happened?

Gov. Dean started 2003 with little name recognition and even less campaign funding. Through the summer he spread the old familiar theme of power to the people, mostly through the Internet, and Americans by the hundreds of thousands responded with their support and dollars. We wanted to take our country and the Democratic Party back.

Then in late 2003, the media, which had anointed Dean as the front runner, started to attack him. By the time of the Iowa caucuses, the polls showed him plummeting and the media's new darling, Senator John Kerry, soaring.

Kerry's remarkable overnight turnaround even surprised the candidate himself who gleefully declared he was the "Comeback Kerry."

Meanwhile, the Center for Media and Public Affairs (CMPA), a nonpartisan, nonprofit research organization in Washington, DC, which conducts scientific studies of the news media, was monitoring the nightly network news broadcasts that are the source of news and information for most Americans.

The results of the CMPA study, released January 15, 2004, revealed that Gov. Dean received significantly more negative criticism on the network broadcasts while his Democratic presidential competitors received significantly more positive comments. The research examined 187 stories broadcast on the ABC, CBS, and NBC evening news in 2003.

Only 49 percent of all on-air evaluations of Gov. Dean in 2003 were positive while the other Democratic contenders received 78 percent favorable coverage.

In a follow-up study by CMPA, of the network coverage of the candidates from January 1 to January 18, the night before the Iowa caucuses, revealed that the networks selected Kerry and Senator John Edwards before the Iowa voters did. As you may recall, Kerry finished first with 38% fo the vote; Edwards ranked second, just below Kerry, with 32%; and Dean managed only a poor third with 18% of the vote. During the two-and-a-half week period leading up to the Iowa caucuses, there had not been a single negative word uttered about Edwards by the three networks (100% favorable coverage) while nearly all, 96%, of the comments about Kerry were positive.

However, Gov. Dean's coverage during those first 18 days of January was significantly less glowing with 42% unfavorable on-air evaluations.

What happened in the campaign that inspired the media to turn on Dean and throw their support to uninspiring Kerry?

A clue may be found in a story published in the Washington Post on November 19, 2003.

The Post reported that, "In an interview Monday night (11/17/03), Dean unveiled his idea to 're-regulate' utilities, large media companies and businesses offering employee stock options. He also favors broad protections for workers, including the right to unionize."

Also on November 19, the Associated Press reported, "Dean, the former Vermont governor, said Tuesday that if elected president, he would move to re-regulate business sectors such as utilities and media companies to restore faith after corporate scandals such as Enron and WorldCom."

Dean's idea of re-regulating two out-of-control business sectors produced criticism from some of his competitors and surely struck a raw nerve within monopolistic utilities and mega-media companies.

I believe Dean's progressive attack on monopolies helps explain why the corporate media started piling on Dean, portraying him with the pejorative term of the "angry candidate."

But while this helps explain why the media went after Dean, it doesn't explain why they suddenly anointed Kerry as their Golden Boy.

However, it would appear that Kerry would not pose a threat to corporate America while Dean would obviously challenge their monopolistic control.

First, a search of Lexis Nexis, a comprehensive computer databank of news and information, failed to find a single comment by Kerry supporting re-regulation of media companies. In fact, Gov. Dean was the only major candidate who ventured into no-man's-land to criticize media monopolies and even threaten to break them up when elected president.

We then discovered a newly published book by the Center of Public Integrity (CPI), a nonprofit, nonpartisan group that does investigative reporting and research on public policy issues. The book is titled, "The Buying of the President 2004: Who's Really Bankrolling Bush and his Democratic Challengers - and What They Expect in Return, (Harper Collins, 2004)

According to CPI, the three largest fundraisers in the presidential campaign at this time are Howard Dean with more than $25 million; John Kerry with more than $20 million; and, of course, President George W. Bush with $85.2 million (as of Sept. 30, 2003).

As has been reported, Bush plans to build a war chest of some $200 million for the election. His top major donors include financial firms Merrill Lynch & Co., Credit Suisse First Boston, UBS Paine Webber, and Goldman Sachs Group. The President's top career donor is the scandal-ridden Enron Corp.

Kerry's top donors include Fleet Boston Financial Corp., Time Warner, and a variety of major law firms. Time Warner, as we know, is the world's largest media conglomerate. Among a variety of media outlets, it also owns Internet giant America On Line and CNN - a virtual cheerleader for Kerry.

The research Center does not cite any major donors for Dean. As we know, the majority of his contributors are ordinary citizens who donate an average of $77 dollars. Dean's "special interest group" is the American people.

Finally, we come to a January 28, 2004, report from "The Campaign Desk," which produces a daily analysis of the 2004 campaign and is sponsored by the Columbia Journalism Review at Columbia University.

The non-partisan "Campaign Desk" reported that it is concerned "when the press singles out one candidate for the kind of mauling and piling on by exaggeration and distortion that Dean has endured in the past week.

"On CNN last night, Judy Woodruff joined the mob at 10:42 p.m. when she suggested that perhaps Dean's lower-key post-election address in New Hampshire means that he was 'preparing his minions, all of his supporters, for the fact that he may not win this nomination?'

"That's neither fair nor journalism," "The Campaign Desk" concluded.

There may be a limit to the piling on. When Wolf Blitzer polled his CNN viewers on January 25, "Are the media unfairly characterizing Howard Dean's post-Iowa loss rally?" 89% said "Yes."

Carl Jensen, Ph.D.professor emeritus, Sonoma State University, Founder of Project Censored

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