Thursday, January 3, 2008

General Electric, Osama bin Laden, And Pedophiles

There is an EXCELLENT article running on Technology Review by John Hockenberry mostly about the time he spent working on NBC's Dateline.

The article is REALLY long, but well worth reading.

It is about the inherent conflict between corporate interests the magnitude of General Electric and the role of journalists as a "fourth branch of government" of sorts.

He first mentions that Dateline NBC has devolved largely into the To Catch a Predator series where Hockenberry explains, if I understand him correctly, that the show collects its victims by "post[ing] offers of sex with minors on the Internet ..."

Oh really?

I always thought they rounded them up in chat rooms.

In fact, I have always been fascinated by how an INITIAL online meeting goes on between, oh, say, some middle aged clergyman and a Sheriff's deputy claiming to be a 14-year-old girl. Oh, they're pretty good at posting the transcripts after things have gotten "hot and heavy", but one REALLY wonders what goes on in the early parts of those conversations.

The most fascinating part of this article though, is that Hockenberry REALLY starts to finger GE and its "Six Sigma" culture as being culpable for a great deal of misuse of its media assets.

In fact - and this I find fascinating - Hockenberry said the "Champions" and "Black Belts" of Six Sigma put him in mind of the "Cadres" and "Squad Leaders" of his Maoism I class. The "shareholder value" mantra of hours-long GE training he attended put him in mind of Mao Zedong's "right path".

Could Hockenberry be onto something here? Despite China being communist in name, could their jack-booted thuggery and iron-booted control tactics have bled into the theology of Corporate America over the last couple of decades?

Most fascinating, though, is a story that Hockenberry recounts of seeking help from GE corporate to help find the relatives of Osama bin Laden so they could be interviewed. GE had a major, long-standing relationship with the bin Laden family. And of course there was no way in HELL Corporate was going to jeopardize that relationship, so they wouldn't help get Dateline in contact with the bin Ladens.

Yep ... I'd have to say it's pretty frightening that one of the biggests and most respected news organizations on the planet is owned by a company with so VERY much to gain from prolonged bloody conflict ...

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