Peter Coyote Calls for Removing Profit Motive from the News Business

Screen shot of Peter Coyote at Commonweal, Feb. 24, 2018

Notes the U.S. is Now a Corporatocracy

Digger, actor, author, narrator of eight Ken Burns films, and now Buddhist priest, Peter Coyote, sought to ‘lift the fog of fake news’ in Bolinas yesterday during a return visit and presentation to an appreciative crowd at The New School at Commonweal.

Acknowledging the challenging path ahead for an American citizenry whose democracy has devolved into something more akin to what he referred to as a ‘corporatocracy’, Coyote told the assembly that the U.S. was in “dire straits.” Yet he remained optimistic about our prospects, and had recently been inspired by the remarkable students of Parkland, Florida who survived a horrific February 14, 2018 school shooting and have reignited a nationwide conversation over gun control with their activism.

Coyote previously visited Commonweal in the summer of 2015, after the publication of his memoir, The Rainman’s Third Cure.

Though our path forward may be unclear, he noted to the gathering, it should begin with the removal of the profit motive from the business of news production and dissemination. Coyote suggested the granting of licenses to broadcast on public airwaves contingent upon a licensee’s demonstrated commitment to accuracy and the public good.

Read on for a transcribed excerpt of Peter Coyote’s presentation and/or watch the embedded video below, courtesy of The New School at Commonweal. – RR

Image via The New School at Commonweal Facebook page

Peter Coyote:

So we are in a dire state. We no longer live in a democracy. We think we do, and the language of our political system is still democracy, but we live in a corporatocracy. We live in a country in which every policy, every option, is designed for the profit and benefit of corporate, financial and real estate interests. We are now being treated as citizens in the same way that we have treated people in the Third World for the last forty years, and it doesn’t feel good, does it?

Everybody is going backwards…..There was not one Republican that did not vote for the tax break that’s going to take 41 million people off their health care. Not one. Not one! 40 million [sic] people.

The money they’re spending now began with Reagan. The Republicans may talk about fiscal probity, but since Ronald Reagan they’ve run up huge deficits as a calculated strategy that they called ‘taking the money from the kindergartens’.  Who are the kindergartners? That’s us. That’s the people who want Social Security, who want Medicare, who want safe working conditions, who want all sorts of social programs which they call ‘entitlements’.

Everybody in this room has paid for their Social Security. Social Security is not in any trouble, except that they’ve borrowed millions and millions and millions of dollars from it to run their wars. So we’re in kind of a dire strait. You can see they’re doing their best to roll back all of Obama’s environmental programs, health programs, all the stuff that actually benefits us. Everybody thinks they hate Obamacare until they’re told that what they have is Obamacare.

So this is a real problem, and I don’t think it’s going to be solved by Washington. I don’t think you’re ever going to get a pig to take its snout out of the trough. Just puttin’ a fine point on it; and I think that people who are benefiting from the system have a hard time voting against it, so to watch these young kids from Broward County, Florida stand up, and be doing the business of the nation at 14, 15, and 16 and receiving the calumny of men making hundreds of thousands of dollars a year accusing them of being actors…..I’m a Buddhist priest and I’m thinking, “Start the killing.”

You cannot run a democracy without an agreed-upon base of facts. You just can’t do it. We’ve got a 24 hour a day propaganda organ in  Fox News, and then we’ve got everybody else, and as long as you can say “that’s fake news,” all of public life becomes opinions. So this was not the case in the 40s, 50s, 60s. The news was widely respected, widely regarded. When Walter Cronkite soured on Vietnam, it was over.

The first thing we need is to get the news divisions of the corporate media removed back to non-profit status, and if we have to pay taxes to make up for the money they’re going to lose, we should do it, because we can’t have a democracy if we can’t have facts. We can’t think about policy if we don’t have facts. If we suspect everything is being partisan, we no longer have a hope of conversation. And then in return for the use of our airwaves – our airwaves – everything they say must be provable, it must be sourced.

Watch the video: Peter Coyote – Lifting the Fog of Fake News.

More about The New School at Commonweal.

The New School at Commonweal Facebook page.

Reply to the Rooster

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.