Google = BP Mouthpiece

mouthpiece 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.”

Tort Abortion

Guess what, kids?  That’s right:  Our laws were written to relieve corporate capitalists from paying for the true damages they cause.

Section 1004 of the Oil Pollution Act, passed by our lovely Congresspeople in 1990 as a strengthening of then-existing rules reads as follows:

§1004 The liability for tank vessels larger than 3,000 gross tons is increased to $1,200 per gross ton or $10 million, whichever is greater. Responsible parties at onshore facilities and deepwater ports are liable for up to $350 millon per spill; holders of leases or permits for offshore facilities, except deepwater ports, are liable for up to $75 million per spill, plus removal costs. The Federal government has the authority to adjust, by regulation, the $350 million liability limit established for onshore facilities.

That means that, by law, British Petroleum is not only able to enjoy all the rights of the “fictitious individual” while not risking actual individuals’ bodily punishment exposures, but the maximum it can be required to pay for the ongoing Deepwater Horizon eco-tastrophe is $75 million — less than 5% of its 2009 reported net income; 0.3% of its total assets. As a financial punishment, this is a traffic ticket, literally.

And the official response of the liberal stylists among our allegedly concerned corporate politicians?  To eliminate the cap on such damages and force giant for-profit operators to face the risk of being liable, like you and me and everybody else who can’t afford a legal dream team, for what they actually do?

Nope. Of course not.  Not on the table.