The Politico-Industrial Complex

Don’t know if anyone saw Stephen Colbert (the satirist not the character) talk to David Gregory this weekend but it’s a must-see (sorry, but WordPress won’t let me embed the video for some reason … you’ll have to click on the link).

What’s I most appreciated was hearing him talk about what he calls the “Politico-Industrial Complex.” He says:

The Super Pac was an act of discovery because I didn’t intend to have a Super Pac […] What I found out is that there’s an entire industry in politics — which I didn’t know, I suspected — but there’s an entire industry, there’s a “politico-industrial complex” that is not just raising money, but is built around making money off of the fact that there is so much money in politics. And there are almost no rules.

Yes, yes, yes. An entire industry built around making money off of money in politics. Where there’s shit there’s always flies.

If there’s an untold story of American politics, and this election in particular, it is this. Michael Moore has touched on this a little bit in some of his films, and documentaries like “Casino Jack” have touched on it as well. But I think the real scope of this, the idea there is a “Politico-Industrial Complex” influencing and corrupting our system of governance, is still a foreign idea to most American voters. And I also think that’s by design because I remain convinced that the media is complicit in this — after all, most of the hundreds of millions of dollars raised by these campaigns ends up on their balance sheet in the form of TV advertising. So the media comprises a substantial portion of the “Politico-Industrial Complex.”

How this changes I have no clue, but it’s a natural law that the larger something gets, the more unstable it gets. I’d say the next few years will see the collapse of a lot of this stuff — headlines like this one are a big reason why.

Hope it’s not just wishful thinking on my part.


Filed under campaign finance, Media, politics, pop culture, Stephen Colbert

10 responses to “The Politico-Industrial Complex

  1. themadkansan


    I turned that bloody idiot-box off for good sometime around 1998 or so – about the time I got a dedicated phone line for my modem. The Internet is ever-so-much-more interesting, even in this modern corporate-controlled age…


  2. I watched broadcast TV until they went digital. I know you are all going to make fun of me, but the beauty was that choir practice always protected me from “TV” night. I only heard about it some ten years later. I guess really cool yuppies have to go out on Fridays, so Thursday is there hump-day weekend.

    My favorite wind-down at 9:00 on Thursday nights was “Gray’s Anatomy.” There, I’ve said it.

    It would have been easy enough to watch the caca they, including FOX put out for gratis. But the freedom of just never watching TV at all!!!! Was just too liberating.

    People watch TV where I work. The ads finally hit California. They are all for local offices. Thank God. If I ever actually witnessed some spot denouncing the president, I might very well lose my job if I could not control my reaction. I thought some damn fool left the TV on CNN. It was on NBC.

  3. Wolfe’s ” Bonfire of The Vanities” was published in 1987. The fires are still smoldering. I think this culture could limp along for decades. I’m not sure there is an effective strategy for change beyond total market collapse. That scares the beejesus out of me.

  4. Shredder

    Spot on. On a related note, the fundamental nature of the corporate media is to support republican candidates because they support deregulation and/or oppose regulations in the public interest. (The Telecom Act of 1997 is right up there with the repeal of Glass Steagall in the chronicles of Bill Clinton’s mistakes.) I recall a public admission by the CEO of CBS, I think it was, during a recent presidential election cycle that he would vote for Bush because it was in the interest of the company.

    So even if we can manage to reduce money in politics, and even repeal Citizens United, the corporate media will be ever thus. They will tilt the playing field to support politicians that enable, in their perception, their ability to make more money for their shareholders. That’s why I think we may have to restore the Fairness Doctrine in the long run, or the functional equivalent, somehow. Remember, the rule is to do precisely what the right most violently opposes, and restoration of the Fairness Doctrine would send them into screaming fits. That’s where we need to be going, among other obvious places like antitrust.

    • Also unions. Back in the day so much of newspaper labor was press operators and such.

      Reminds me of this column written Oct. 12 1972 by Ralph Gleason:

      Newspapers, as A.J. Liebling explained in The Press, are neither public servants nor custodians of the Holy Grail.

      They are private enterprises in a capitalist economy whose primary function is to make money. Just like a department store or a gas station.

      They are not in the business of truth and honesty and the public good unless the owner of the paper sees that as a way to making money.

      The other thing to understand about newspapers is that they are owned by rich people and rich people are, by and large, Republicans.

      So when your friendly neighborhood newspaper dumps on McGovern, runs his campaign news inside the paper and spreads the latest bullshit about Nixon’s runaway lead in the polls all over page one, remember that Republicans own the newspapers. As Liebling once noted, Democrats only work there.

      Just imagine, for a moment, what would have been the manner in which a story disclosing that the Democrats had hired industrial spies to bug the Republican Headquarters would have been played on the front pages of the nation’s press. It would have been banner headlines in the biggest type available and day by day every little bit of evidence which supported the original charge would have been played up. But since the shoe is on the other foot, so to speak, scandals which would have resulted in impeachment proceedings against a Democrat get sloughed off in Republican papers because they concern a Republican president. And a very special Republican president, the one who has given the biggest, fattest green light to exploitation of the land by big business since Warren Harding.

      The more things change ….

  5. I do believe in all my heart the media has been complicit in this monstrosity.

  6. democommie


    While I agree that Bill Clinton did some pretty egregious things while he was in the oval office, this:

    “(The Telecom Act of 1997 is right up there with the repeal of Glass Steagall in the chronicles of Bill Clinton’s mistakes.)”

    is not one (or, rather, two) of them. Both Glass Steagall and the Telecom Act of 1996 were bills that had overwhelming support by both houses. A veto of either bill would have resulted in Clinton losing the fight. Could he have done more to prevent both bills from passing into law? probably. Is it his fault that a renegade house and Republican majority senate (which pretty much voted in lockstep on both issues) passed the two bills and presented them? no.

  7. ThresherK

    Favorite moment from Colbert’s TV book tour: Colbert was guesting on ABC’s Good Morning America, they were seguing to a piece on professional brassiere-sizing (talk about must-see-TV), and amidst all the chattering idiocy someone said something to George, and Colbert stepped in and “took the throw” to the filmed piece.

    And George Stephanopolus said, “I’ve been supplanted”.

    Truer words, Snuffleupagus. Truer words.

    PS I could not stand 15 minutes of GMA even with Colbert.

  8. Bernard

    it is always sad to see Clinton given a pass for any of the evil he did. ownership seems like a forgotten concept. alas, fighting for something worthwhile isn’t a value anymore. and dare anyone criticize Clinton for his complicity in selling us out for “MONEY.” lol

    Democrat or Republican, Green/Greed, and alas, what could a poor Southern Democrat do against all that evil
    this always has been Congress. Cry me a river, please and then jump in for all that BS these types excuse as “He made me do it.” lol

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