ORWELL ROLLS IN HIS GRAVE
Starring Charles Lewis,
Mark Crispin Miller,
Directed by Robert Kane Pappas
Written by Tom Blackburn, Robert Kane Pappas
Runtime 84 mins.
Fascinating documentary analyzing censorship, consolidation, and propaganda in the American media.
Freely available on YouTube, what powers the film is the focus on a wide range of informed voices. Using little narration, Orwell Rolls in His Grave reveals what former CNN and ABC news producer Danny Schechter calls the “media-ocracy” of the country, “where a media that is supposed to check political abuse is part of political abuse.”
In the words of former “60 Minutes” producer Charles Lewis, “The most powerful special interest group in Washington is the media.”
According to Prof. Robert W. McChesney, founder of MediaReform.net, the government grants monopoly rights to multinational corporations which “don’t pay a penny to the people for getting these monopoly rights to TV frequencies, then they turn around and sell time on the public property and make billions of dollars and destroy our political system.”
The problem is conflict of interest.
Rep. Bernie Sanders: “When you watch television you are watching a program produced by a large multinational corporation that has enormous conflicts of interest,” says Sanders. “The result is that certain issues are talked about, certain issues are not talked about.”
“You’ve got a media system that’s basically a subsidiary of corporate America,” says Mark Crispin Miller, professor of Media Studies at New York University. It is a media system “that will not cover stories of tremendous public moment, while it will over-focus on trivial stories that don’t have any resonance at all.”
Exemplifying a story of great public moment conspicuously ignored, the presidential race in 2000. According to Vincent Bugliosi, the man who successfully prosecuted Charles Manson, “Five members of the United States Supreme Court committed, in my opinion, and I feel very strongly about this, one of the biggest and most serious crimes in American history when they stopped the recount in Florida, took the election away from the American people, and handed it to George Bush.”
The filmmakers contend that “billions of dollars are being spent to convince the public that their interests and those of the corporations are the same.”
“What we see, what we hear, and what we read is being controlled by fewer and fewer large multinational corporations,” says Sanders. On media mogul Rupert Murdoch, the Congressman from Vermont is clear: “His schtick is appealing to working class people and taking them to the right. And he does this through violence, he does this through superpatriotism, he does this through sensationalism.”
Whether the twelve years elapsing since this film’s 2003 release have eroded its validity or only increased its timeliness is up to viewers to decide.
Stewart Kirby writes for