As Herman and Chomsky pointed out, there are structural rules to the way commercial media work. One of the most basic is that commercial media exist to serve their advertisers first.
Hence, it comes as no surprise that Google, the corporate internet search portal/media conglomerate, whored itself out to BP after the Horizon Deepwater oil rig explosion.
According to Advertising Age,
Before BP could stem the oil gusher at the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico, it unleashed $100 million in ad spending, largely on network TV, to stem the damage to its image. But it also started spending heavily where it had never spent much before: buying ads in Google’s search results.
How much did BP spend on search? In two months, BP went from spending very little on search advertising — about $57,000 a month — to becoming one of Google’s top advertisers, dropping nearly $3.6 million in the month of June alone, according to an internal Google document obtained by Advertising Age. That pushed BP into the upper echelon of search advertisers, in a league with Expedia, which spent at least $5.9 million in June, Amazon, which spent at least $5.8 million, and eBay, which spent at least $4.2 million.
This is a significant outlay, even for BP, which spent $94 million on advertising in 2009, and $78.7 million in the first six months of 2010 alone (excluding search), according to Kantar Media. Search advertisers only pay when their ads convert or get a click, and in June the crisis was still at full-boil, driving clicks on BP’s ads.
Why is there no public, not-for-profit internet service and search provider? After all, the public invented the internet, and the United States has the world’s highest communications bills.
The answer is market totalitarianism, which forbids such questions from being within a mile of “on the table.”