Illustration by Melamed Katz, CC-SA-3.0

I enjoy listening to PBS on Saturday morning, the political talk shows and some others, such as Bill Moyers’ show, Moyers & Company.  Today, his guest was Trevor Potter, the founder of Campaign Legal Center, and the discussion was campaign spending.

You can see the video here:

http://billmoyers.com/segment/trevor-potter-on-fighting-big-money-in-the-2012-election/

There is also a link on the page to the entire transcript.

This exchange caught my attention:

*

“BILL MOYERS: I thought that’s where we were seeing the naïveté of a Supreme Court justice really out of touch with reality. When he said, “Okay, we’re going to give them the right to spend all this money, but shareholders in particular and citizens can go to the internet, get the information they want, and then hold them accountable if they’re not spending money for the company’s profit,” right?

TREVOR POTTER: Right. And of course, that’s interesting in itself, because it reveals the bias of that decision. He assumed the test was, are they spending the money in the way that most profits the company? And that’s very interesting if you think about it, because–

BILL MOYERS: How so?

TREVOR POTTER: Well, I mean, you go back to the founding of our country. And the founders’ view was that we would be citizens, and we would act in the interests of the country, in our greater interests. They didn’t think that everyone would go out and try to act solely in their own self-interest to better themselves if it was bad for the country.

These were people who had fought a war, who had left their families and their homes, clearly not in their self-interest. So to say that the right thing to do in a democracy is have a corporation spend money in ways that will give them the most profit, never mind what happens to anyone else or the best of the country. It is, I think, an example of why you don’t really want corporations participating directly in elections.

They have a very narrow interest. Which is supposed to be their shareholders. But we want voters and citizens to have a broader interest. To think about the next generation, to think about the greater good. There’s an interesting quote from the head of Exxon in a new book out on Exxon where he says, “Exxon is not a U.S. corporation, we do not act in the best interest of the United States.”

Well, it is a U.S. corporation, but what he meant is, they have shareholders all over the world, they have investments all over the world, and it’s not his job to do things that are good for America, it’s his job to do things that are good for his international shareholders.”

-taken from the transcript on billmoyers.com

*

Although this interview focused on big money in elections, it ties in what I’ve been saying about Cumulus Media and how it’s affected our radio community.  Trevor Potter encapsulates it in these comments (from the transcript above):

“…that we would be citizens, and we would act in the interests of the country, in our greater interests. They didn’t think that everyone would go out and try to act solely in their own self-interest to better themselves if it was bad for the country.”

“So to say that the right thing to do in a democracy is have a corporation spend money in ways that will give them the most profit, never mind what happens to anyone else or the best of the country.”

They have a very narrow interest. Which is supposed to be their shareholders. But we want voters and citizens to have a broader interest. To think about the next generation, to think about the greater good.”

“…and it’s not his job to do things that are good for America, it’s his job to do things that are good for his international shareholders.””

Now, I know Cumulus Media is not the first company to do this but their corporate policies have adversely affected our local broadcast community this past year, the actions of Cumulus Media management show their complete disregard for the Bay Area listener base.  Instead, they focus on how much money they can squeeze out of a once vibrant broadcast environment and how little money they can spend in doing it, at the expense of our local employment force, paying little or nothing for local talent at the same time shoving inferior syndicated programming onto our airwaves and effectively cutting off any local discussion.  They expect us to hear only one viewpoint freely on the air – theirs.

Do we want to support this one-sided policy?  It’s like cheering for a dishonest reality show contestant to win the million dollars.  We sit on the couch, shake our heads, and shrug our shoulders with, ‘it’s just a game’.

Well, this is reality and Cumulus Media is grabbing millions while we sit on the couch and listen to their stations (for what it’s worth, I do not listen).  They are gaming the system that has allowed this to happen.  How can we change this?

As I’ve said before, many other cities have experienced the same broadcast annihilation of their favorite radio stations at the hands of Cumulus Media.  I wish there was a way to get everyone together to speak with one booming voice that will not accept this as our future.

Boomers are no longer babies, and we have to BOOM, baby, BOOM, in a big voice to fix this mess.

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