Disney: another troubling example of corporate media censorship

Decision not to distribute new movie critical of President Bush

In yet another example of corporate media censorship, the Walt Disney Co. has decided not to distribute filmmaker Michael Moore’s new documentary, “Fahrenheit 911.” Moore’s film is highly critical of the financial ties between the Bush family and the Saudi royal family, as well as action taken by the U.S. government in evacuating relatives of Osama bin Laden immediately after the September 11, 2001 attacks.

“The more that media is concentrated in the hands of a few huge corporate owners, the more likely we’ll see this type of corporate censorship,” said Common Cause President Chellie Pingree. “One of the bedrocks of democracy is the freedom to express all ideas, no matter how controversial. When ideas are suppressed, our freedoms are diluted.”

Disney’s decision is the latest high-profile example of the dangers of media consolidation leading to corporate censorship.

Last week, Sinclair Broadcasting gagged Ted Koppel by pre-empting Nightline’s tribute to the Iraq war dead on its ABC affiliates, claiming that the program was partisan.

Last year, the Viacom-owned CBS refused to air a mini-series, The Reagans, and moved it to cable after a wave of protest that it was unfairly critical of the former president.

“Will Michael Moore’s film offend some people?” Pingree said. “Probably. But how will the public ever know? How can the public decide the merits when a handful of corporate executives decide for us?”

Common Cause is urging its tens of thousands of supporters and activists to call Disney headquarters and tell chief executive Michael Eisner that in this country, citizens, not corporations, get to choose which movies they see.

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