By Wayne Madsen
Previously published in the Wayne Madsen Report.
With the impending demise of World Wide Web “net neutrality,” which has afforded equal access for website operators to the Internet, the one percent of billionaire investors are busy positioning themselves to take over total control of news reporting on the Internet.
In the latest move by billionaires to monopolize the Internet, Huffington Post founder Arianna Huffington and billionaire Nick Berggruen announced the creation of World Post, a news and views website that will be officially launched at the World Economic Forum conclave of one percenters in Davos, Switzerland.
Among the announced contributors to World Post are Microsoft owner Bill Gates, Google CEO Eric Schmidt, and former British Prime Minister Tony Blair.
The move by Huffington and Berggruen follows the creation of the “investigative” news website First Look, Inc. by PayPal’s billionaire founder Pierre Omidyar. First Look plans to distribute the remaining cache of National Security Agency (NSA) documents originally leaked by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden to journalist and lawyer Glenn Greenwald.
Another billionaire who has joined the rush to seize part of the Internet is hedge fund tycoon George Soros. Soros has backed two media operations, Pro Publica, which promised to disclose many Snowden documents but has not followed through, and Project Syndicate, which paves the Internet with editorials backing all of Soros’s global initiatives.
Greenwald and his associates have published only one percent of the estimated 50,000 documents downloaded by Snowden from classified NSA databases. In a recent interview by Israel’s Channel Ten, Greenwald made it very clear that he would release more documents concerning NSA surveillance of Israeli leaders based on what the Obama administration does with regard to convicted and jailed Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard. There are increasing calls for Pollard’s release from prison and permission for him to move to Israel.
Greenwald stated to Israeli television that the slow pace of document release would continue and that he agreed with Israel on the issue of Pollard: “I think you are absolutely right to contrast the Jonathan Pollard case with revelations of American spying on their closest allies within the Israeli government, because it does underlie, underscore exactly the hypocrisy that lies at the center of so much of what the U.S. government does.”
Pollard is serving a life sentence in the Butner, North Carolina, federal penitentiary for disclosing a cache of documents that resulted in a number of U.S. intelligence assets in the Middle East being compromised to Mossad. The Mossad approached the U.S. assets and offered them a deal: cooperate with Mossad or risk being outed to their governments as CIA assets. In either case, the assets faced a certain death sentence: disclosure of work for Israel or the United States would have been met with the same fate of execution as spies.
A number of American journalists are now coming out in support of clemency for Pollard to placate Israel over the NSA spying reports leaked by Greenwald. First Look’s initial operating budget is $250 million. Along with Greenwald, journalists such as The Nation’s Jeremy Scahill; Dan Froomkin, formerly with The Washington Post; and Entertainment Weekly.com’s Bill Gannon jumped ship to sign on to First Look. The hiring of an entertainment editor who once worked for Lucas Films, the producer of Star Wars movies, raised eyebrows among those who believed Greenwald and Omidyar intended First Look to be a no-nonsense news operation. It now seems certain that First Look will be no different than Disney Corporation’s running of ABC News.
There have been some outrageous examples of corporate parents spiking stories by their news divisions in order to avoid bad publicity. In 2006, ABC News was pressured by Disney and its then-CEO Michael Eisner to kill an investigation of pedophiles being employed by Disney World in Orlando. The end of net neutrality will stymie and possibly eliminate investigative reporting on the Internet as we now know it.
The formation of the two newest media companies follows Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos’ acquisition of The Washington Post. It is believed that Bezos will begin to streamline the newspaper with more focus on Internet distribution than the print run.
Under President Obama, the Federal Communications Commission and Federal Trade Commission have done little to advance the cause of net neutrality. In fact, the regulatory agencies have gone the other way in order to facilitate the creation of a multi-tiered Internet that will permit high bandwidth access in a “pay to play” scheme. In other words, only billionaires like Omidyar, Berggruen, Bezos, and others will have access to the top tier of the Internet to distribute varnished “news” reports.
Those media organizations without deep pockets will be relegated to the slower tiers of the Internet, sharing limited bandwidth with pornography, quack medicine, and get-rich-quick scam operators.
Rupert Murdoch’s British Sky Broadcasting and Virgin Media, formerly owned by Sir Richard Branson, have been at the forefront of establishing a “two-speed Internet.”
It is painfully clear that the top one percent are feverishly engaged in an orgy of carving up the Internet after the collapse of net neutrality for the benefit of corporatism and oligarchic control over news dissemination.
It is noteworthy that Obama’ old friend from Columbia and Harvard and his first FCC chairman, Julius Genachowski, has just joined a new firm after offering only lukewarm support for net neutrality. Genachowski now works for the eternally dubious Carlyle Group.
There is little wonder why one of World Post’s first contributors will be Google’s Schmidt, the frequent habitué of the Davos and Bilderberg secret conclaves of financial and political vipers who run the world. The journalists who have joined the frenzy to climb into the one percenters’ Internet top tier deserve nothing but condemnation from their peers.
Wayne Madsen is a Washington, DC-based investigative journalist and nationally-distributed columnist. He is the editor and publisher of the Wayne Madsen Report.