Anders Breivik, Clear Channel, and the London Riots: Loose Threads

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It’s almost ironic that Anders Behring-Breivik, the monster who killed nearly 100 people across Norway in late July 2011, conceived and executed his nefarious plans as a exercise in psychological warfare, given that his early adulthood was spent working in the advertising industry. In fact, it now emerges that the seed money that permitted his initial travels to London, where he claims to have been “recruited” into this still-unknown group of possible co-conspirators, was inadvertently provided by one of the most prolific practitioners of such techniques in America, Clear Channel Communications.

Clear Channel is best-known for its role in virtually destroying the terrestrial radio industry in the United States. The infamous Telecommunications Act of 1996 eliminated all previous restrictions on radio ownership in the US, allowing Clear Channel to rapidly expand its radio holdings from the then-maximum of 40 to an unprecedented 1,200 stations, including multiple stations on the same dial in a single city, which was once illegal for reasons the company demonstrated in short-order.

Under their watch, the radio industry became suffused with payola: In exchange for preferential treatment on their centrally-planned national playlists, the “Big Six” conglomerates then controlling most major record labels funneled money into other the company’s other holdings in TV and outdoor advertising. It was technically legal, but brazenly unethical and transparently corrupt. Most of this music was designed to promote anti-social and self-destructive behaviors, typified by the gangsta rap and quasi-Satanic rock music produced by Interscope and Time-Warner. By the time prosecutors in New York and Florida began looking into these practices, it was too late. Terrestrial radio bled money, losing much of their market share to satellite radio and the Internet, both of which gave listeners more options for music unfiltered by corporate priorities.

Breivik was not involved in the radio industry, although it would be interesting to know what kind of stuff he listened to. His dealings with Clear Channel are summarized on page 1400 of his manifesto, in a section detailing his professional experience: “2000-2001: Managing director of Media Group AS. Development and sales of outdoor media solutions (primarily billboards). My company was partially acquired/bought by Mediamax Norway AS after I (and my employee, Kristoffer Andresen) had built a billboard portfolio from scratch in the Oslo area which was then sold to Mediamax Norge AS (which was later bought by JC Decaux Norway) and Clear Channel (July 00 – July 01)”. The profits from the sale of his business funded his trip to London in 2002, where by his own admission he was recruited into a larger right-wing terrorist movement.

Breivik signs his manifesto “London 2011”, raising the question of whether he had been there this year. Given that his name and status as a potential domestic terrorist had been known to authorities at least as early as March, 2011, it’s unclear how he could have been allowed to travel. It’s likely that Norwegian authorities never really considered the possibility of right-wing terror, despite the rising chatter of such around the world over the past couple of years. One looks at the violent rioting that hit London just two weeks later, and can’t help but wonder if there is any connection between the loosely-organized chaos on British streets and the “lone nut” of Oteya Island.

sheltonhull@gmail.com; August 8, 2011

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