Think back with me for a moment, to a simpler time in America. A more innocent time, when we still thought of the media as the mythical "Fourth Estate," able to report, as the New York Times (NYSE:NYT) so eloquently puts it, "All the News That's Fit to Print."

In 1986, when General Electric (NYSE:GE) bought the NBC network from RCA, the journalistic world shuddered in dismay at the thought of what the corporate behemoth would do with its new prize, and how it might slant news coverage in favor of the parent company. If that has ever really happened, it's at least been subtle enough to cause the masses no undue alarm. But another fear did come to pass, as GE's media grab was mimicked several years later when first Disney (NYSE:DIS) bought ABC, and then Westinghouse reverse-merged itself into CBS (before selling itself to Viacom (NYSE:VIA) in 1999) -- raising the potential for news manipulation by the Fourth Estate's new overlords.

All of this apparently missed the point. Yesterday, auto giant General Motors (NYSE:GM) reminded us that you don't have to actually own the media to force it to kowtow to your whims.

On Thursday, in response to what GM characterized as "factual errors and misrepresentations in the editorial coverage" of its products, the automaker threw a corporate hissy fit at the Los Angeles Times, one of several media outlets run by Tribune (NYSE:TRB). Upset by the paper's impolite insistence on pointing out that things are not going well for the automaker, GM has reportedly pulled its advertising from the Times.

GM was quoted saying that it's had issues with the Times' coverage for some time now yet has been unable to bring its objections to a satisfactory conclusion. What appears to have finally brought the matter to a head was a column by the Times' auto reporter earlier this week, in which the reporter not only criticized one of GM's products but also called for the ouster of GM's top management.

Well, gee. Now I'm feeling left out. Over here at the Fool, we've needled GM management for laying off employees while keeping management fat and happy. We've termed its ill-considered Italian partnership a Fiat-sco. We've repeatedly razzed the company for practically giving its cars away in an effort to remain relevant to American car buyers. Heck, I even resorted to name-calling once.

So, c'mon, GM. We say stuff you don't want to hear, too. Throw us a bone here. What's a guy gotta do to get a strong-arming, pressure-putting, shoot-the-messenger temper tantrum out of you guys, anyway?

Fool contributor Rich Smith has no position in any of the companies mentioned in this article.