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News :: Media
Brandeis Honorary Degree Recipient Brokaw's German Media Conglomerate Link
25 May 2005
Modified: 10:20:55 AM
Brandeis Gives Honorary Degree To Former Corporate Media Anchor Brokaw--despite his financial link to Nazi Era German Media Conglomerate
"When you think about it, there are few corporate issues that Tom Brokaw can report on during the Nightly News that his corporate parent doesn’t have a direct interest in — taxes, trade, military spending, corporate welfare, sweatshops, the environment, etc.

"The other side of the coin from stories that are suppressed or told with the heart removed from them is NBC promoting the interests of its corporate parent. They once did three segments in a row on a new machine that detects breast cancer. They didn’t mention even once that it’s General Electric that manufactures the machine.

"Another example is Tom Brokaw cheering for GE weapon systems, as he did during the Gulf War, when he called the Patriot missile "the missile that put the Iraqi scud in its place." That was a complete hoax. The Patriot missile was a near-total failure. When Brokaw was cheerleading for the Patriot and not giving accurate information about the Patriot, he didn’t even feel the need to acknowledge to the viewer that General Electric made profits by providing parts for the Patriot missile, as it did by making parts for dozens of weapons that were used in the Gulf War.

"So they also promote GE’s agenda without bothering to disclaim to the viewer that there is a connection to the industry that they’re reporting on…."

Former Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting [FAIR] Executive Director Jeff Cohen, in a July 2001 interview with Multinational Monitor magazine

Brandeis Honorary Degree Recipient Brokaw's Bertelsmann/Random House Contract

Brandeis University Honorary Degree Recipient Tom Brokaw is no longer the tv evening news anchor for one of the media conglomerates--GE/NBC Universal--that generally fails to provide anti-war student activists and professors from Brandeis and other U.S. universities with much daily coverage of their anti-war protests and meetings. But Brokaw is still under contract to do tv journalism work for NBC News until 2014.

Despite his current 10-year contract with NBC News, however, Brokaw apparently sees no conflict-of-interest in also having a financially secretive contract with the Random House book publishing subsidiary of the German-based Bertelsmann media conglomerate (which also controls 22 television stations in Europe and recording companies like Arista Records and RCA). As the Associated Press reported in a January 31, 2005 article:

"Tom Brokaw has signed a two-book deal with Random House, the publisher announced Monday, although what the former NBC anchor will actually write and when the books will be published remain unknown.

"Random House publicist Tom Perry said Brokaw, author of bestsellers such as The Greatest Generation and The Greatest Generation Speaks, was considering `various projects,' but wouldn't provide details. Financial terms weren't disclosed and no publication dates have been set…"

Besides being secretive about the financial terms of its recent book contract with Brandeis Honorary Degree Recipient Brokaw, the Bertelsmann/Random House media conglomerate also did not disclose until 2002 the degree to which the corporation collaborated with German Chancellor Adolph Hitler's regime. According to an October 8, 2002 article that was posted on the Society of Academic Authors web site at noted:

"The chief executive of Germany-based media giant Bertelsmann, Gunter Thielen, apologized for a 1985 corporate history that inaccurately portrayed the company's record during World War II. A new corporate history project, commissioned in 1998, acknowledges a collaboration with Hitler's government and the use of Jewish slave labor in Lithuania. Said Thielen: `I would like to express our sincere regret for the inaccuracies ... in our previous corporate history of the World War II era, as well as for the wartime activities that have been brought to light.' The 1985 version of the company's history portrayed the company chairman, the late Heinrich Mohn, as a staunch opponent of Hitler who defied the Nazis by publishing banned texts. But the record, as now corrected, shows that Bertelsmann was punished at the end of the war for hoarding paper illegally, not for what it published. In fact, the company was the most prolific German publisher during World War II. The new history shows that Mohn donated to Nazi causes and belonged to a group called the SS Sponsors Circle, which backed Hitler's elite troops financially."

Following its 2002 apology, however, both the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal criticized the Bertelsmann/Random House media conglomerate's apology. As the Society of Academic Authors web site observed on October 9, 2002:

"The New York Times criticized German media conglomerate Bertelsmann as falling short in its 57-years late apology for the company's role in World War II Germany. About the apology, the Times said: `Still, Bertelsmann's management, with its _expression of regret for its activities and the misrepresentations, stopped short of apologizing for the company's wartime record.' There was no explanation about why ongoing allegations into the company's past had been ignored so long, the Times said. The Wall Street Journal, meanwhile, was especially critical that Reinhard Mohn, who controls the company, had not earlier corrected the official company history even though he knew it to be false.' Reinhard's father Heinrich Mohn ran the company during the Hitler period."

In its 794-page report, the Independent Historical Commission [IHC] which investigated Bertelsmann/Random House's role during the Nazi Era, revealed that, as the largest book producer for Hitler's Army during World War II, the German media conglomerate produced anti-Semitic material and Nazi propaganda. Slave labor was likely used by printing houses in Riga, Latvia that were associated with Bertelsmann, according to the IHC report. The IHC report also revealed that in order to receive its post-World War II publishing license in Occupied Germany, Bertelsmann falsely claimed that it had been shut down in 1944 by the Nazis for anti-government tendencies, although it was actually just shut down for hoarding paper.

A study by Media Tenor Ltd. of the content of Brandeis Honorary Degree Recipient Brokaw's NBC evening news show (and the tv evening news shows of CBS and ABC) found that between January 1, 2001 and December 31, 2001 "representatives of non-governmental organizations, which might have provided an alternative perspective to the U.S. government, business community or establishment experts, made up only 3 percent of the sources," according to an article that appeared in the May/June 2002 issue of FAIR's Extra! magazine. The Extra! magazine article also noted that on the tv evening shows which Brokaw, Dan Rather and Peter Jennings anchored each night during 2001:

"Organized labor was granted even less access to the airwaves. Even as the country lost 2.4 million jobs in 2001, union representatives made up less than 0.2 percent of sources on the evening news, making company representatives 35 times more likely to be heard.

This lack of interest in labor was reflected not only in sourcing but in topic selection: The unemployment rate, layoffs, strikes, wage levels, workplace discrimination and all other labor issues combined were only 1 percent of total coverage. By contrast, other business and economic issues made up 14 percent of the total. Product reports alone were twice as likely to appear on the news as labor-related stories, making up 2 percent of overall coverage. Even on labor stories, union representatives were rarely heard, making up a mere 2 percent of quoted sources. This was far behind corporate and business association representatives (26 percent), economists (19 percent) and politicians from the major parties (15 percent). Of the partisan sources presented on labor issues, 89 percent were Republicans and 11 percent were Democrats."

So don't expect Brandeis Honorary Degree Recipient Brokaw to suddenly start doing much tv journalism work at NBC News between now and 2014 that either increases mainstream media access for anti-war students, NGO representatives and labor representatives or critically examines the historical role and special corporate interests of the GE/NBC Universal and Bertelsmann/Random House media conglomerates.

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