Why Not Televise the Widening Wealth Gap?

Jim Hightower Author, Commentator, America’s Number One Populist

The debilitating spread of inequality between the superrich 1-percenters and America's downwardly mobile majority is of huge economic, political, and cultural significance to our country. So why is it largely ignored by the television media?

Meet David Zaslav, CEO of the Discovery Channel's cable-TV empire. His salary last year was $3 million – but it was padded with an extra $6 million bonus, nearly $2 million in perks, and a neat $145 million in special stock gimmes, a total paycheck of $156 million. For one guy in one year. Zaslav is not just a 1-percenter, but a top 1-thousandth-of-the-1-percenters.

Les Moonves at CBS is up there, too, wallowing in the $54 million he was paid in 2014. In fact, of the 10 most lavishly-paid corporate chieftains last year, six are television barons, with Comcast, Disney, Time Warner, and Verizon joining the elite class. Someone should cast the whole bunch of them in a reality-TV show called, "The Wealth Gap Are Us!"

What genius do they have that warrants such extravagant pay? None. It's simply that they are lucky hirelings of an exclusive club of wealth that owns and controls most television conglomerates. The billionaire media tycoon Sumner Redstone, for example, owns nearly 80 percent of the voting stock of both CBS and Viacom, so $50 million for Moonves is not a stretch for him, nor can other stockholders stop his excess. Likewise, only three billionaires control Discovery, and $156 million for Zaslav is nothing to them. Then there's Comcast, which owns NBC and Universal Studios. It's CEO, Brian Roberts, controls a third of the conglomerate's stock – so he's essentially able to set his own pay.

When so few people with such massive wealth control the media, the media is not likely to turn its public spotlight on the malefactions of great wealth.


This has been reposted from Jim Hightower's website.

National radio commentator, writer, public speaker, and author of the book, Swim Against The Current: Even A Dead Fish Can Go With The Flow, Jim Hightower has spent three decades battling the Powers That Be on behalf of the Powers That Ought To Be – consumers, working families, environmentalists, small businesses, and just-plain-folks. Twice elected Texas Agriculture Commissioner, Hightower believes that the true political spectrum is not right to left but top to bottom, and he has become a leading national voice for the 80 percent of the public who no longer find themselves within shouting distance of the Washington and Wall Street powers at the top. He publishes a populist political newsletter, “The Hightower Lowdown.” He is a New York Times best-selling author, and has written seven books including, Thieves In High Places: They’ve Stolen Our Country And It’s Time To Take It Back; If the Gods Had Meant Us To Vote They Would Have Given Us Candidates; and There’s Nothing In the Middle Of the Road But Yellow Stripes and Dead Armadillos. His newspaper column is distributed nationally by Creators Syndicate.