which means that a newspaper or television news division is onerncomponent of a chain of business ventures that may also includernfast food and computers, sports teams and book publishing.rnThese connections cannot fail to constrain the investigativernambitions of editors or journalists, who fall underrnenormous pressures to exhibit corporate loyalty. Few administrationsrnor city governments would be so stupid as to penalizerna paper directly for an offensive investigation, but there arerna hundred ways of striking at a parent or related company in thernbroader corporate family, the keiretsu circle.rnIn the last decade, complaints about the media have oftenrnfocused on the figure of Rupert Murdoch, “Citizen Cain,”rnwho has been blamed for virtually every lapse of taste and editorialrnjudgment in any newspaper or television program. Therncriticism is often exaggerated, and it is humorous to see Murdochrndescribed as an interloper in what (it sometimes appears)rnthe Constitution presumably intended to be solely arnthree-ring circle of television networks: two generations of successfulrngreed can give an enterprise staggering pretensions, tornsay nothing of delusions of invulnerability. But the Murdochrnempire has enjoyed staggering growth worldwide. In Americarnalone, this includes a host of newspapers, from the ChicagornSun-Times and the San Antonio Express-News to the Star; FoxrnBroadcasting and a national television network with almost 200rnaffiliates; major shares in Harper & Row and TV Guide; andrnsatellite and cable networks. All this in addition to growingrnventures on every continent except Africa.rnIn terms of news, the Murdoch presence has been blamedrnfor a precipitous decline in journalistic standards and the risernof unashamedly scnsationalistic reporting. This tendencyrncould be illustrated by a hundred news headlines, but twornnice examples would be “Werewolf Seized in Southend,” arnfront-page banner from the Sun, Britain’s best-selling daily; andrn”Headless Body Found in Topless Bar,” a relatively mild contributionrnfrom the New York Post. Again, this is somewhat unfairrnin that all the tcle ision networks share some blame for therndrift to tabloid standards, and Murdoch’s enterprises canrnscarcely be blamed for the talk shows and trash television thatrnprovide news and social commcntar’ for so large a majority ofrnthe American people, Murdoch is less important as an individualrnculprit than as a powerful symbol of the thorough transformationrnof news into entertainment, the necessary corollaryrnof the failure of the media to provide effective or substantialrnanalysis of politics and the state. Nor can USA Today be attackedrnfor its valiairt efforts to reduce any story to the visualrnequivalent of a 30-second sound-bite. Like Murdoch, it is reflectingrnthe conditions of a profoundly nonideological age,rnwhen most people ha’e come to believe that the doings of thernstate are so far-removed from anything they can understand,rnstill less control, that it is pointless making the effort.rnThere are adversarial media in this country, on both the leftrnand the right, and across the spectra of sexual and religiousrnpreference, and some of them do a quite heroic job, but theirrninfluence is heavily circumscribed. For what we still describernas the mainstream, however, the most likely fate is what wernmight call a British solution. In the Britain of the 1980’s, thernMurdoch press led the v’a’ tov’ard a thorough exclusion of seriousrnnews from the press, on the reasonable grounds that investigativernreporting tended to annoy the government and therncourts, while huge amounts of money were to be made inrnpage-three nudes and silly headlines: “Werewolf Seized inrnSouthend,” “Rape Hell in Satan’s Coven.” After all, that’s entertainment.rnIt may also be our future.rnObituary in the A’eH York Timesrnby William BaerrnToday I read the notice of a deathrnburied deep within the New York Times.rnConcise and brief, just 87 words,rnit read, I knew, exactly like my own.rnSome unknown man, my age, who’d died of cancerandrnI wondered if his children eer called,rnand if his late divorce had left the womanrnas bitter and unforgiving as my first wife.rnI wondered if his “freedom” was empty and cold,rnand if he had more wealth than he could need—rnand if he had sometime, just recently,rndiscovered that most all of what he’d saidrnand thought, throughout his life, was totally wrong.rnAnd as I feel the cancer surge within,rnI wonder if the same kind took him down.rnOCTOBER 1994/1?rnrnrn