CNN's Howard Kurtz chastised the big media companies who have failed to disclose their conflict of interest and their support of the controversial Internet privacy bills, SOPA and PIPA which they finally covered when there was a blackout by a large number of Internet companies in protest of the legislation.
I'm glad Kurtz at least decided to mention that they should have been more open about their conflict of interest, but less than one minute with no mention of the names of the bills at the end of his show hardly qualifies as anything that really informed his viewers of what those conflicts are. It's a step in the right direction, but a pretty lame one at best.
Now if we could get them to disclose their conflict of interest with the Citizens United ruling that allows corporations to pour unlimited amounts of money into campaigns anonymously and the fact that the big media companies don't want to fix the mess since they're the ones benefiting from all that money flowing into the advertising on their networks.
I expect that to happen about the time hell freezes over. They only covered this blackout because they were forced to because too many people who use the Internet were wondering what was going on or were about to and they would have looked like incompetent buffoons to have completely ignored the story. And Kurtz's complaints here ring pretty hollow when there was a virtual blackout on the story for months while Congress hoped to get it passed with no one noticing.
KURTZ: A strange thing happened this week that transformed the complicated Congressional debate into something that, if you own a computer, was impossible to miss.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BRIAN WILLIAMS, NBC ANCHOR: Gone blank. Tonight, the big fight behind what happened to some big names on the Web today and why they went away.
DIANE SAWYER, ABC ANCHOR: You may have noticed today if you happened to go to Google or Wikipedia, the popular Web sites were blacked out in protest over proposed new crackdown on the Internet.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KURTZ: These and other opponents say the heavy hand of government regulation could ruin the Internet. They are taking the fight to the big media companies and the Motion Picture Association, which say new restrictions are needed to crack down on online piracy.
And it worked. Public pressure forced congressional leaders to put the bill on hold. But here's the thing - when "Good Morning America," "CBS This Morning" and the "Today" show first covered the blackout, they didn't mention that ABC, CBS and NBC have lobbied hard for the restrictive legislation, although the "Today" show did take note of it during a subsequent interview.
No initial disclosure as well on CNBC. The "New York Times" says that CNN has been, quote, "relatively diligent" in disclosing that parent company, Time Warner, supports the legislation.
This is an important story about online freedom and thievery. And it's just plain embarrassing that the networks didn't fess about the very clear financial interests of the companies that own them.