Chris Powell: Amidst current sexual-abuse scandals, prurience is a growth industry; 'fake media' love Trump's pro-monopoly FCC



Suddenly it seems as if everyone has been sexually abused or worse by someone else. But it only seems to be sudden. In fact it has been going on since sex was discovered by people who had power over other people. It has become fashionable to declaim about it only recently, thanks to mass media that increasingly profit less from useful information than from mere prurience, which seems to be what most people want most these days, after sex itself.

What has this phenomenon really proved? Not much -- maybe two things.

First, that power still corrupts, most of all in regard to sex, and that its victims ordinarily keep silent about it to avoid embarrassment except when going public long afterward can unhorse a perpetrator who has achieved some high position. Then the victim's enjoyment of revenge outweighs embarrassment and may signify a sort of corruption itself.

And second, that a contemporaneous complaint to the police or at least the perpetrator's acquaintances is worth any number of belated and merely vengeful complaints. For a contemporaneous complaint can stop an abuser before he makes a career out of it.

The movie industry was infamous for this corruption long before Harvey Weinstein began taking advantage of the casting couch. Back in 1955, having spent two years as a screenwriter in Hollywood, Norman Mailer novelized about it well in The Deer Park, concluding that the world was a place "where orphans burn orphans and nothing is more difficult to discover than a simple fact." 

Having married six times, Mailer himself turned out not to be such a nice guy either. Maybe it took one to know one.

RACKETEERING ISN'T INNOVATION: To lure Amazon's second headquarters, Connecticut has joined nearly every other state and dozens of cities in offering the company billions of dollars. Amazon is to be exempted from state and municipal taxes for many years while the company strives to put other retailers out of business even though they  do  pay state and municipal taxes. 
It's as if the retail business isn't hard enough already. Indeed, the site that the town of Enfield, Conn., is pitching to Amazon is the Enfield Square shopping mall, which used to house the major department stores Amazon has undermined. Now Enfield Square is struggling.

Other retailers and businesses generally should respond to the Amazon frenzy by demanding similar payoffs just to stay put. 

Amazon justly profits from its innovation in internet retailing but its original innovation was only to enlarge sales-tax evasion. Now the company wants direct subsidy from government. That's a racket.

‘FAKE MEDIA' LOVE TRUMP'S FCC: While President Trump rants about "fake news" from the "fake media," his Federal Communications Commission is planning to repeal regulations so that media companies can become even bigger and concentrate ownership of television and radio stations and newspapers.

The FCC, which now has a Republican majority, aims to let companies combine ownership of television and radio stations and newspapers in the same market and to let TV stations absorb each other even if doing so would leave a market with fewer than eight stations.

The commission already has repealed a rule requiring TV and radio stations to have offices in the communities they are licensed to serve.

Government policy should diversify and democratize ownership of the news media and the whole economy, not concentrate it. Concentrating ownership of the news media just makes "fake news" and propaganda easier to spread. Trump's "fake media" love his FCC. 

Chris Powell is managing editor of the Journal Inquirer, in Manchester, Conn.