LED signs, banner drops, projections on famous monuments; activists have used all manner of tactics to spread the word about the Trans-Pacific Partnership or TPP. Still, a vote on the largest trade pact of our time is looming before most voters have even heard of it.
Media coverage might have helped, but in the eighteen months leading up to January 1 this year, network news: ABC, CBS, and NBC made no mention of the TPP - none - and cable news was hardly better, you can thank Media Matters for the data.
Now that lawmakers are debating putting the TPP on a fast track, the Partnership is a story, but it’s not your story, it’s a Beltway story, about how the deal’s fate will affect politicians. Will the president get what he wants? Will her support for the pact hurt Hillary? What about all those Republican haters who’ve found something Barack-ish to love?
Superficial coverage should come as no surprise. Expecting monopoly-made media to cover a made-for-monopolies trade deal is madness. What's in it for them?
The very same money media corporations that purport to bring us the news, won’t wade into the weeds about jobs and wages and profits, why? Well, maybe it’s because they have flesh in the trade deal game.
Multinational mass media corporations like Walt Disney, NewsCorps, and Comcast distribute content and own outlets around the world.
Pesky citizens in some countries have already passed environmental regulations, consumer protection laws, and labor rights. What if people started passing laws defending media pluralism too? What if cities or states started passing legislation that favored home-grown media over Disney?
A draft of the TPP leaked by Wiki-leaks earlier this year contains provisions that permit global corporations to sue over local preference laws – and charge for compensation for lost profits too.
On our show, we talk every week with people who’ve soured on neo-liberalism. They’re looking to deepen democracy and decentralize wealth. Some are inspired by participatory budgeting in Brazil, others by the Zapatista experiment in Mexico. Many fancy putting local tax dollars to work for local worker-recovered companies like the ones in Argentina, or cooperatives, like those in Mondragon? From what we know now, the TPP will make all that harder.
But, to paraphrase the poet Audre Lorde, don’t look to the master’s media to cover the master’s monopolies. It won’t happen. Want a new economic system? You need systemically different media too.