Mass media has degenerated beyond the point of recognition. However, let us not romanticize the days of Ed Murrow, Bob Woodward, Vietnam protests and true investigative journalism. The trend of reduction and popularism started long ago – our situation today was probably inevitable. With more competition for people’s time, television has been forced to emulsify their broadcasts to sound bites and rhetorical questions. Arriving at a point where, “The no. 1 issue for voters this year, again, is bullshit”. Of course, what is mentioned above is not news to anyone reading this, nor is it a recent phenomenon.
In 1962, Newton Minnow, then chair of the FCC, gave an amazing speach entitled “Television is a vast wasteland.” Even 55 years ago, the trend of putting the bottom line before the truth was apparent. At what point do a sufficient number of people stand up and demand real news, real analysis and real dialogue?
As outlined in Chomsky’s “Manufacturing Consent”, media driven by advertisement will always be a self-censored entity. Newspapers will not print too many stories that run against the grain, simply because they need to retain their advertisement revenues. A fringe population knows what bullshit looks like, tastes like and smells like; but the general voting population are too busy with kids, work and life to care about things that are 3 degrees of separation from them. They want Britney.
The inflection point where the masses see the emperor naked will always arrive when the situation has worsened so considerably that it can no longer be ignored. The general apathy towards abuses of power by corporations and politicians is ignored by most people because We Have it Good, Real Good.
Anti-slavery crusader Frederick Douglass succinctly stated, “Find out just what any people will quietly submit to and you have found out the exact measure of injustice and wrong which will be imposed upon them.”
Though modern propaganda was born with Napoleon’s conquests and scientifically improved by the Nazis; our modern society of scientists and marketers that have put the nail in the proverbial coffin. Corporations know their interest lies with the satisfied client and so bookstores carry more liberal books than ever before with more negative analysis of Bush than ever thought possible, yet so little change.
With the availability of information, the illusion of discussion has been created. Yet, people “debate” between democrat and republican when they should argue between right and wrong. During the infamous appearance of John Stewart on the CNN show Crossfire, he ripped apart both hosts of Crossfire for their practice of duping the public into thinking that a real debate is occurring. In reality, the media argues over how to cook the steak and not whether the steak should be cooked at all.
The ultimate risk, as described by Aldous Huxley in “A Brave New World” is a semi-totalitarian system, where we suckle on the teat of the beast we have bred. As stated by Edward R Murrow: “A nation of sheep will beget a government of wolves.” We must not permit our opulence to cloud our judgment of what is good and worthwhile information.Published on April 6, 2008