“I had learned, as an English major, how to read literary texts closely and carefully to discover their hidden depths … and I discovered to my delight that you could do that with great movies as well. The more closely you watch them, and the more times you watch them, the more you see in them.
I then began to notice that TV commercials were also extremely subtle. As propaganda messages, they were really very carefully done so that they would appeal to you on both a conscious and an unconscious level. So, I started writing about those, and then about political rhetoric.
I started writing more and more about the media, and I was favoring magazines for [a] public readership … I wanted to reach more than just an academic audience from the beginning. And I quickly felt the urgency of alerting people to what the media was doing
By the ’90s, it had become a crisis, as a handful of transnational corporations were controlling most of the content that everybody was absorbing, news and entertainment alike, and it was getting worse and worse. So, I started to become an activist for media reform. I wrote a great deal on this and lectured about it very widely.
This is through the ’90s — and you can see how successful I was. The Telecom[munications] bill of 1996, signed by Bill Clinton, set the seal on the creation of a media monolith, The Media Trust, which had already started in earnest under Reagan. Now, it was really getting serious.
Fast forward to 2001 … I shifted my interest from media concentration to the urgent need for voting reform, because it was becoming ever clearer that the outcome of our elections does not necessarily reflect the will of the electorate … As you can see, my interests were becoming more and more taboo.”