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You've read, of course, the New York Times story from last week, yes? The one about how retired military officers were paid by the Pentagon to sell the illegal invasion and occupation of Iraq by spewing administration propaganda to the "news" media?

It was a breathtaking and horrifying account of the lengths this administration will go to to lie to the American public so that certain people (not you and me) can get richer, and the level of disgrace that certain members of the military are willing to bring upon the uniform by prostituting themselves for an illegal war that has cost hundreds of thousands of lives and hundreds of billions of dollars.

As I read the article, I thought of a snippet from a book I had read and re-read in high school:

[I]n the early 1960s, an interviewer was trying to get Ernest Hemingway to identify the characteristics required for a person to be a 'great writer'. As the interviewer offered a list of various possibilities, Hemingway disparaged each in sequence. Finally, frustrated, the interviewer asked, 'Isn't there any one essential ingredient that you can identify?' Hemingway replied, 'Yes, there is. In order to be a great writer a person must have a built-in, shockproof crap detector.'

                   - Teaching as a Subversive Activity,
                     by Neil Postman and Charles Weingartner
                     (excerpt; PDF file)

Accepting Hemingway's statement as true, and knowing the revelations contained in the Times story, and recalling the gusto with which nearly every talking-head newsreader and access-grubbing hack writer from virtually the entire corporate media world swallowed the administration's line of bullshit about Iraq for almost all of the past six years, one can only conclude that there are very few great writers working in American journalism today. Almost none, in fact.

The crap that the bloody-handed Pentagon whores cited by the Times were peddling was eagerly gobbled up by johns stenographers "reporters" across the country, "reporters" who had dropped their crap detectors where they stood to join in a mindless stampede of groupthink, jockeying and jostling for position to see who could bury their nose furthest up the collective ass of the BushCheney administration and their loathsome enablers.

It is hard to argue with the logical extension of Hemingway's assertion when applied to modern American "journalism"; indeed, the art and science of crap detecting has never in my lifetime been in a sadder state. And that is no accident.

Take a look at what the Times article said:

Internal Pentagon documents repeatedly refer to the military analysts as "message force multipliers" or "surrogates" who could be counted on to deliver administration "themes and messages" to millions of Americans "in the form of their own opinions."

It requires no great leap of imagination to infer what Enemy these "force multipliers" were sent out to attack and destroy.  It is the same Enemy that has proven to be such an inconvenient stumbling block for so many Republican plans over the past 35 years. These REMFs were and are mercenaries - erm, security contractors - in the BushCheney administration's Global War On -

Truth.

Or, as it is known in some circles, Reality.

The Enemy for Republicans is, was, and always will be The Truth. Reality. They and their plans don't tend to do so well when subjected to Reality, so they prefer not to deal with it:

''That's not the way the world really works anymore . . . We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality -- judiciously, as you will -- we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors . . . and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.''

The technical term for the "reality" the BushCheney administration has "created" for itself and its followers is "bullshit" - or, to use Hemingway's more polite coinage, "crap." The economy, Iraq, the environment, the Constitution, America's standing abroad, the U.S. military, America's infrastructure, product safety - the list is nearly endless, but the point is simple: every single "reality" the BushCheney administration has "created" has been a disaster.

Unfortunately, over the past 35 years Republicans have on the one hand developed crap proliferation to a high art while on the other hand degrading the ability of and incentive for the American populace and the American media to exercise their respective crap detecting faculties. This result has been achieved incrementally, deliberately and without fanfare through the consolidation of corporate media, the rescission of the Fairness Doctrine and the intentional redirecting of school curricula away from the development of critical thinking skills.

All of which explains how the current administration has been able for so long to sell so much crap to the American media and public: so few still had the ability to see the crap for what it was.

The results of the 2000 presidential election would seem to bear that out. Strongly encouraged by the corporate media, a lot of Americans just put their crap detectors in storage eight years ago, figuring, What do I need a crap detector for, when I can just have a beer with this guy?

The press - for so much of our nation's history, the watchdog of our democracy, the unofficial "fourth estate" of government - evidently heard the siren call of Gee Dubya's tall cold one as well, abandoning the field to Crap back in 1999, powering down a whole frosty 40-ouncer of Compassionate Conservative:

[Bush says,] "I worry about the haves and the have-nots. [Mine] is a message that says nobody should be left behind." . . .

There are important differences between Reagan and George W. Bush. Reagan paid only lip service to maintaining a safety net for the poor. Bush seems determined to improve their lives. . . "People who adhere to the conservative philosophy better figure out how to make sure it includes everybody," he warns. "Not just say it, but mean it."

(For those still nursing that 40-ouncer, our apologies if reading that little gem nine years later made you lose it all over your monitor. – o.h.)

It's sad, really. Pathetic, in fact. Modern-day "news" gatherers have mistaken "access" for openness. Their crap detecting skills are so poor, and they are so desperate for what they stupidly believe is "access," that they can't even tell when they're being shat upon - and, just as pathetically, they don't care. Members of the modern corporate news media don't even recognize crap when they're being forced to eat it. Rapping with Karl Rove has been the least of their embarrassments, and the fact that they don't even realize that is a sad commentary.

The irony, of course, is that many "news" gatherers believe they could not do their jobs without the golden-shower-masquerading-as-"access" that they are "granted" by the BushCheney administration. This would no doubt would be true, if it were not for three things: (1) their "access" is nothing of the sort; (2) they're not doing their jobs anyway, with or without "access"; and (3) the kind of "access" that puts you onstage with MC Rove is not the kind of access you need in order to do real journalism.

The problem is that most "news" gatherers don't understand Quality - or they don't care about it. From amid the entire universe of facts out there waiting to be reported on and investigated, from amid the literally countless possible subjects that today's corporate media "journalists" could choose to spend their time, money and talents on - the occupation of Iraq, food riots across the globe, an economy teetering on the edge of depression, the systematic destruction of the United States Constitution, the hunt for Osama bin Laden - out of all that, what do modern-day corporate journalists, those who would inherit the mantle of Edward R. Murrow, choose to give us?

Hannah Montana! (her back!)

Reverend Wright! (he's black!)

Lapel pins! (tie tack!)

Corporate media? They're hacks!




In his book Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, Robert Pirsig discusses the need to use Quality as a filter when processing the huge volume of raw data that we as humans - and members of a democratic society – are inundated with every day. He cites the work of French mathematician, physicist and philosopher Jules Henri Poincaré. Poincaré tried to figure out how it was that good scientists, out of literally an infinite number of possible hypotheses for a given phenomenon, knew which hypotheses to pursue. And Poincaré boiled it down to a question of Quality (all emphases added):

Poincaré laid down some rules: There is a hierarchy of facts . . . Poincaré concluded [that] a scientist does not choose at random the facts he observes . . . Mathematics, he said, . . . doesn't merely make the most combinations possible according to certain fixed laws. The combinations so obtained would he exceedingly numerous, useless and cumbersome. The true work of the inventor consists in choosing among these combinations so as to eliminate the useless ones . . .

Pirsig - as the title of his book suggests – uses motorcycle maintenance as a metaphor for life. In one of the book's most telling passages, he deconstructs the problem-solving process of a mechanic confronted with a stuck crankcase-cover screw. Pirsig examines what will happen - or won’t happen - if the mechanic - faced with a universe of facts from which to choose - fails to bring the filter of Quality to his assessment of those facts:

We have been looking at that screw "objectively." According to the doctrine of "objectivity," . . . what we like or don't like about that screw has nothing to do with our correct thinking. We should not evaluate what we see [, according to the doctrine of "objectivity"]. We should keep our mind a blank tablet which nature fills for us, and then reason disinterestedly from the facts we observe.

But when we stop and think about it disinterestedly, in terms of this stuck screw, we begin to see that this whole idea of disinterested observation is silly. Where are those facts? What are we going to observe disinterestedly? The torn slot? The immovable side cover plate? The color of the paint job? The speedometer? The sissy bar? As Poincaré would have said, there are an infinite number of facts about the motorcycle, and the right ones don't just dance up and introduce themselves. The right facts, the ones we really need, are not only passive, they are damned elusive, and we're not going to just sit back and "observe" them. We're going to have to be in there looking for them or we're going to be here a long time. Forever. As Poincaré pointed out, there must be a subliminal choice of what facts we observe.

The difference between a good mechanic and a bad one, like the difference between a good mathematician and a bad one, is precisely this ability to select the good facts from the bad ones on the basis of quality. He has to care! . . .

By returning our attention to Quality [we can get] out of the noncaring subject-object dualism and back into craftsmanlike self-involved reality again, which will reveal to us the facts we need when we are stuck.

Read that last sentence again:

By returning our attention to Quality [we can get] out of the noncaring subject-object dualism and back into craftsmanlike self-involved reality again, which will reveal to us the facts we need when we are stuck.

"The facts we need when we are stuck." Hmmm . . .

Let's take what Pirsig says about scientists and mathematicians and see whether we can apply it equally to another pursuit:

The difference between a good mechanic reporter and a bad one, like the difference between a good mathematician and a bad one, is precisely this ability to select the good facts from the bad ones on the basis of quality. He has to care! . . .

How often have you heard representatives of the corporate media defend the mediocrity of their product by protesting that, gee, all they're doing is being "objective," presenting "both sides" of an "argument"? Like, say, "both sides" of the global warming "argument"? Or "both sides" of the evolution "argument"? Or "both sides" of the illegal wiretapping "argument"? Or "both sides" of the torture "argument"?

As if there were an "argument" in the first place. As if "both sides" of such an illusory "argument" carried equal weight.

The reason we are bombarded 24/7 with crap in the corporate media is because most of the so-called "journalists" in this country have been out of the crap detection business for years. Their corporate masters have decided instead that crap dissemination is more profitable. No one involved in running corporate media - and way too few people involved in consuming corporate media content - gives a tinker's damn about Truth, about Quality.

Whereas once upon a time in America, journalists served as a front line of Crap Detection against the torrents of Crap spewing from the seats of government and the corridors of corporate power, now, if anything, most corporate media outlets serve their literal corporate masters; rarely does one see a Quality-driven decision about which content to foist upon a heedless public.

As Pirsig would argue, what the corporate media have abandoned in their supposedly doe-eyed, innocent, oh-so-fair-and-balanced presentation of the "facts" is an application of Quality. To give airtime and ink to the repeatedly and provably incorrect assertions and predictions of idiots like William Kristol or Doug Feith or Dick Cheney or Alberto Gonzales or John Yoo, or the global warming deniers, or those who would replace the teaching of evolution with the teaching of creationism, is to throw Quality out the window, and leave the consumer to decide what is valuable and what is, well, Crap. Caveat viewer.



To cite one very current example, it is only because our corporate media and many of our educational institutions have promoted such a climate of "all-hypotheses-are-of-equal-merit" that it is even possible to make and market a film such as Ben Stein's recent laughfest, Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed, about which (in spite of its unintentionally hilarious self-referential title) the right is in a fervor. And why wouldn't they be? According to Scientific American (whose editors I am more inclined to believe than, say, those of The Washington Times),

Stein . . . is uninterested in paleontology, or any other science for that matter.

So in our Quality-devoid corporate media environment, a film that über-seriously tries to (get this) blame the Holocaust on Charles Darwin (no, I am not making this up, and - OMG!! - I can already see the sequel: Rick-Santorum-as-Arnold-Schwarzenegger-as-T101 going back in time, racing frantically to prevent a buffed-out Ann-Coulter-as-Linda-Hamilton-as-Sarah-Connor from stowing away to the Galápagos on HMS Beagle with a flintlock set to full auto, intent upon blowing away a bespectacled Darwin as he looks up uncomprehendingly from scratching notes in his journal) is treated seriously instead of as the pitiful, expensive joke that it is.



C'mon, face it: Irony is dead. Dead from an overdose of right-wing hypocrisy administered over 14 years. While right-wing true believers and blowhards like Limbaugh and O'Reilly make a great show of protesting "moral relativism," the right wing itself, of course, engages in moral relativism to a degree unheard of by anyone on the left.  Hookers with diapers, pedophilia, gay sex in bathrooms, torture, corruption, stealing presidential elections, advocating genocide, wishing death upon Americans - all of these are okay if you're a Republican "limited to the present circumstances".

And at the same time they supposedly eschew moral relativism, they are perfectly okay to live with relativism when it comes to science.  Assertions that would have sent my eight-grade science classmates into paroxysms of laughter nowadays often are accorded equal time with real science in the news media, in the halls of our deliberative bodies and, God help us, in our schools.  An unwillingness to use the knife of Quality when weighing scientific evidence is what makes possible a waste of time, energy and money such as Stein's film.



The slippery slope to fascism is greased by media consolidation and its accompanying destruction of high-Quality news reporting. Silvio Berlusconi's party has risen to power in Italy, fascist salute and all and, as commenter droogie6655321 put it,

This is what happens when you deregulate media to the point that one guy owns everything.

America has been on that slippery slope for the past 20 years. The Fairness Doctrine was rescinded under Reagan in 1987. The Telecommunications Act was signed into law by Bill Clinton in 1996; Fox News was launched the same year.

The past seven years have seen a deterioration in the Quality of American journalism unprecedented in recent history, as witnessed by the amount of Crap that Americans are evidently willing to put up with. Torture. Secret trials. Renditions. Outing of CIA agents. Illegal surveillance. Destruction of an American city. National debt exceeding $30,000 for every man, woman and child, while the wealthiest Americans get tax cuts. Gasoline at $4 a gallon while oil companies wallow in record profits and receive tax subsidies.

And we're OK with all of that now, after seven years.

Seven years of political decisions based on fear, ignorance and cynical power-grabbing. Seven years of treating the Constitution like a goddamned piece of toilet paper. Seven years of treating the U.S. Treasury like an ATM for the super-rich, and the U.S. taxpayer like a hapless boob.

Seven years of a snarling, mean-spirited, self-loathing vice president, the Willie Sutton of Big Oil, the president of the Senate who would tell a colleague, Go Fuck Yourself, and who would say, "So?" when told that 70% of the American people oppose the war in Iraq.

Seven years of those who would deny the reality of global warming, the reality of evolution, the reality of contraception, the reality of hazardous mines, the reality of 2,000 people drowning in a major American city.

Seven years of lies, added to and embellished, built upon unchallenged by the corporate media, bought into and spouted by sheepish Democrats in Congress, cowed into submission and timid silence by the sheer weight and breathless audacity of the lies.  Cowed, with a few notable exceptions, into timid silence. Suckered by the notion of "bipartisanship" - only, when Democrats are in charge, "bipartisanship" becomes another word for "appeasement."

Seven years of Are You F-ing Kidding Me? No Child Left Behind.  Clear Skies Initiative.  Patriot Act.  Protect America Act.  It's part of the dumbing down of America; the effort to create, not well-informed voters, but over-pressurized consumers.  Operation Iraqi Liberation didn't make the cut, because it was The Truth.

Seven years of You Can't Make This Shit Up has left me tired. Seven years of asking the question, Just Exactly How Dumb Do You Think I Am, Anyway? is enough already.



As the Times story of the co-opted Pentagon whores illustrates, modern Republicans have learned well the lesson of Don Corleone: Keep your friends close, but your enemies closer.  To a Republican, truly independent, critical thinking journalists are the enemy - or at least an ally of the Enemy; the real Enemy is Truth.  So when the administration invites journalists in, those journalists should be doubly wary.  Unfortunately, when the current crop of slavering, lazy, spoonfed stenographers are with great fanfare given a peek behind the curtain chosen by the administration, they never bother to ask the obvious question: So,  what is it you are choosing not to show me? The result is an uninformed, apathetic electorate.

But that electorate is beginning to wake up. In the next installment, we'll work together, you and I, to compile a catalog of the crap the BushCheney regime has tried to foist upon the American people over the past several years, and we'll look (audaciously) for hope as America starts to bring out of storage those rusty crap detectors.

Thanks for reading!


Also available at Docudharma

Originally posted to Important if True on Thu May 01, 2008 at 07:10 AM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Very thorough and well written (10+ / 0-)

    I'll say the same thing I said when this whole fracas broke... Whenever I see someone identified as an "analyst," I assume they're full of shit.

    If someone was just an expert being asked for their expert opinions, they can call them an "Expert."  If someone is a non-expert who is presenting researched facts, they can call them a "Journalist."  But to "analyze" something is to put it through the prism of your knowledge and experiences... aka your "Biases."

    This was a "big" story but I wasn't surprised.  Was anybody REALLY surprised?

  •  We've been swiming in feces so long... (5+ / 0-)

    we've started to like it.

    The World is my country, all mankind are my brethren, and to do good is my religion. --Thomas Paine

    by David Kroning on Thu May 01, 2008 at 07:19:34 AM PDT

    •  I think someone sent me a link (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ek hornbeck, trashablanca, possum

      to a website for that sort of thing . . .

      As nightfall does not come all at once, neither does oppression. - Justice William O. Douglas

      by occams hatchet on Thu May 01, 2008 at 07:21:20 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I still like Chomsky's take on it... (7+ / 0-)

        All over the place, from the popular culture to the propaganda system, there is constant pressure to make people feel that they are helpless, that the only role they can have is to ratify decisions and to consume.

        I do feel utterly helpless.  

        Yes, I have the choice to turn off my TV, or to stop reading a particular rag, I can pick up my dog-earred copy of Les Miserables, or Childhood's End, but that doesn't mean that the turd factory stops working.

        I wish I knew how to flush the toilet...

        The World is my country, all mankind are my brethren, and to do good is my religion. --Thomas Paine

        by David Kroning on Thu May 01, 2008 at 07:26:24 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Before you can flush the toilet (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          occams hatchet

          you have to repair the plumbing. And you -- and I and a lot of other people -- are working on it. If we do a good enough job in November, perhaps we can start flushing in January.

          I have seriously been considering sending Obama a note recommending this appoach: on January 21 (assuming  he becomes president, of course) he should issue an executive order firing EVERYONE in every branch, agency, and institute of the US government with a hire date IN THEIR CURRENT POSITION after Jan. 1, 2001. EVERYONE. From the head of the agency to the janitors, from commissioners to secretaries, just fire them all. If they want to, they can re-apply for their job, but that will provide an opportunity to look at each person individually and see if they were hired because they were a croney (or Regents grad or a mole) and if their conduct in performing their duties showed competence or, rather, an adherence to a politicized agenda.

          My theory is that there are a LOT more of the latter than the former in the government now. This way, we could get rid of them much faster and they wouldn't have the opportunity to undermine the new administration. Going the route of waiting for employee reviews, the radically partisan Necrotizing fasciitis that have been used to hollow out the functioning tissue of virtually every government agency at every level will remain in place, doing their damage, for far too much longer.

          And if McSame becomes president...I'm headed for Belize. I can't take 8 more years of this. Even if he only lasts 4 years, anyone who served as his vice-president would be the heir-apparent. And anyone who would serve as McSame's VP can't be any better that he is. McAncient is far too insecure to let anyone near that job who could even define the word competent, much less decent.

          "The only thing necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing." -Edmund Burke

          by carolita on Thu May 01, 2008 at 11:01:27 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Heh. "Necrotizing (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            carolita

            fasciitis" - how oddly appropriate, "fascia" having the same Latin root as "fascist": bundle, or bunch. "Necrotizing fasciitis": a bunch of criminals eating away at the living tissue of society, killing it so that they can thrive.

            As nightfall does not come all at once, neither does oppression. - Justice William O. Douglas

            by occams hatchet on Thu May 01, 2008 at 11:49:53 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

  •  Did you see Abrams last night? (10+ / 0-)

    The Huffington Post guest raised the issue of the Military pundits lying with the complicity of the news organizations. Abrams went balistic and shouted him down and shouted over him. I tried to find the video at MSNBC, they had edited it out. Am I the only one that saw that?

    The Fierce Urgency of Now. --MLK

    by MantisOahu on Thu May 01, 2008 at 07:23:06 AM PDT

    •  Someone diaried on it last night. (5+ / 0-)

      Let's see . . .

      here ya go.

      Yeah - un-frickin'-believable.

      As nightfall does not come all at once, neither does oppression. - Justice William O. Douglas

      by occams hatchet on Thu May 01, 2008 at 07:26:51 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I saw that too. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      occams hatchet

      Dan fancies himself as not only a crack journalist, but a staunch defender of truth. Ha! He is actually a thin-skinned, insecure little moron.

      It may be he got all huffy because he did say something about the paid military pundits (he pointed out one clip) and no one noticed.  It think it is more likely that, because he was General Manager of MSNBC during that time, he probably is responsible for putting many of those military mouthpeices on the air.  Maybe he was duped, maybe he was complicit, maybe he is just an idiot that was in way over his head. Not many good choices there.

      "The only thing necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing." -Edmund Burke

      by carolita on Thu May 01, 2008 at 11:53:25 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I saw that too. It was truly odd. (7+ / 0-)

    Abrams said "I've investigated that myself" and refused to let it become a question.

    Impeachment! Indictment! Incarceration!

    by followyourbliss on Thu May 01, 2008 at 07:24:09 AM PDT

  •  Unfortunately, much "crap detection" (6+ / 0-)

    in journalism today is simply snide tone -- as in, "if I write like I doubt what my sources are telling me, no one will notice if I've been snockered." It's simply cover-my-butt journalism.

    And even that low standard has faltered when it comes to covering BushCo., because if you question, you can't get anyone back on the phone for the next story.

    I highly recommend The Elements of Journalism for anyone who wants to understand what the standards of good journalism could, and should, be.

    Thanks, OH, recommended.

    "In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act." George Orwell

    by zic on Thu May 01, 2008 at 07:24:14 AM PDT

  •  Ah, oh...... (6+ / 0-)

    there you go making perfect sense again;-)  I'm sending this to my husband who will use it to counteract some of the 'crap' and misguided individuals send him on these issues.

    Great job of listing the sins of the media - anxiously waiting your next installment!  Thanks.

    Be kinder than necessary, for everyone you meet is fighting some kind of battle.

    by Cronesense on Thu May 01, 2008 at 07:26:04 AM PDT

  •  The "News" is mostly bullshit (5+ / 0-)

    The corporate owners and sponsors don't want real news to be reported. They want PR for their owners and sponsors to be reported.

    The public goes along willingly because we don't want to take responsibility for our actions in the world.

    We don't want to hear about the global food shortages on our radios as we drive our SUVs.

    We accept the bullshit because it absolves us from admitting that we have become greedy and destructive.

    "It's the planet, stupid."

    by FishOutofWater on Thu May 01, 2008 at 07:27:55 AM PDT

    •  I don't think it's a only corporate sponsors (4+ / 0-)

      I think it's consumer driven -- think of it like a popularity contest; or perhaps like radio stations, playing the same handful of crappy pop songs over and over, putting them on the best sellers list.

      "In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act." George Orwell

      by zic on Thu May 01, 2008 at 07:30:22 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Some of the best reporting serves as (6+ / 0-)

      a mirror on culture. Corporate media knows this, and knows further that, as you say, we have avoided this self-examination like the plague lately. Hence American Idol, The Bachelor, etc., ad nauseum

      As nightfall does not come all at once, neither does oppression. - Justice William O. Douglas

      by occams hatchet on Thu May 01, 2008 at 07:31:06 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Voilia.. (6+ / 0-)

        Television is the first truly democratic culture - the first culture available to everybody and entirely governed by what the people want. The most terrifying thing is what people do want. --Clive Barnes

        The World is my country, all mankind are my brethren, and to do good is my religion. --Thomas Paine

        by David Kroning on Thu May 01, 2008 at 07:33:13 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  A modest proposal (3+ / 0-)

          Because of corporate media consolidation we can't reclaim American journalism all at once, but we could make a good start by no longer watching television for the news.

          TV is a lousy way to get the news because it's the nature of the TV medium to provide frissons (of anger, fear, resentment, titillation). It's emotionally manipulative by its very nature. And it naturally inclines towards right-wing spin on stories because the right-wing world-view is largely shaped by and limited by those same emotions. And since stories have to be brief, simplified, and oversenstaionalized very little real information is conveyed and retained; most of what viewers take away is an oversimplified headline ("Obama throws rev. Wright uner a bus') and a feeling about same.

          Text can lie and spin too, but not with the same emotional manipulativeness, and it's less resistant to critical pondering; one can easily learn how to read between its lines-- or to skip altogether a story or editorial that's patently dishonest.

          I stopped watching TV for news two years ago and it has not left me less well informed. There is no earthly reason to watch TV news. Anything of real substance and import that TV journalism might uncover is going to be reported the next morning in print journalism-- in newspapers or in blogs like dKos. Watching O'Reilly or Chris Matthews is just self-abuse. Fortunately it's unneccessary as well. You don't need to drink their poison to know its flavor of the day; if they say anything that might possibly have some impact on events you can find it out here in just a few minutes.

          And the beauty of mass boycotting TV news is that it can actually have an impact. News is not a big money-maker for the broadcast networks, and it's a high-competition narrow-margin deal for the cable news networks. Declining ratings get TV pundits cancelled (Tucker Carlson, for example). So let's make them all go away.

           

  •  Here's to your next reincarnation - (6+ / 0-)

    hopefully as Occams Chainsaw. Really good diary.

  •  Fantastic diary oh! (6+ / 0-)

    I loved Pirsig's ZAAMM.  What an incredible book.  I bet I have given half a dozen copies as gifts over the years.

    And Hemingway was dead on (IMO).

    In this age, if your bs detectors aren't first rate you won't have a clue...so glad that you do.  Helluva diary brother.

    "The truth shall set you free - but first it'll piss you off." Gloria Steinem

    Iraq Moratorium

    by One Pissed Off Liberal on Thu May 01, 2008 at 07:45:55 AM PDT

  •  Rec'd for Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenan (5+ / 0-)

    and oldie but goody.  One of my all-time favorites.  

    One cannot deny the humanity of another without diminishing one's own. James Baldwin

    by CarolynC967 on Thu May 01, 2008 at 07:56:10 AM PDT

  •  David Gregory's (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ek hornbeck, occams hatchet, possum

    induction was remarkable in that we got to witness it.  He had been one of the more aggressive of the WH press corp.  I can remember being fairly stunned that Gregory actually accepted the invitation to come up on the stage with Rove.  Was he even at any WH press conferences after that or did he move immediately into the slot that opened for someone who was "one of us?"

    The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people. - 9th Amendment

    by TracieLynn on Thu May 01, 2008 at 08:19:08 AM PDT

    •  I was surprised, too. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      TracieLynn, ek hornbeck

      Just shook my head.

      As nightfall does not come all at once, neither does oppression. - Justice William O. Douglas

      by occams hatchet on Thu May 01, 2008 at 08:41:50 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Pretty quick turnaround, huh? (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      TracieLynn, occams hatchet

      One minute he is on suspension for saying Chelsea had been "pimped out" by HRC and the next minute he has his own show, in which he appers to be trying to out-Hannity Hannity. (Disclaimer: I haven't actually seen more than 2 minutes of Gregory's show -- I found him more offensive than "the friendly fiends at Fox and Friends," as Colbert calls them.)

      "The only thing necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing." -Edmund Burke

      by carolita on Thu May 01, 2008 at 11:31:49 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  If I'm remembering (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        occams hatchet

        correctly - and it's always up for debate - David Shuster was the one who was suspended.

        but, yeah, Gregory had his own show pretty soon after dancin' with Rove.

        The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people. - 9th Amendment

        by TracieLynn on Thu May 01, 2008 at 03:27:28 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Righteous rant, OH (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    occams hatchet, LanceBoyle

    I agree with every single word (which may be a first for me vis á vis anyone's writing). One of the most salient points you make is about

    the intentional redirecting of school curricula away from the development of critical thinking skills.

    This is critical because it is not only the root of how we got to the point we are in today, but a signpost showing the way we can get out of it.

    Scientists have fought the good fight to keep as much of the crap as possible out of textbooks. Historians, not so much. As a result, history textbooks today are not so much a recounting and analysis of human or American history and more a cheerleading manual for the military/industrial complex.

    In his interview with Bill Moyers Dr. Wright said

    ...there is no African history....we are miseducated as a people. Or because we're miseducated, you end up with the majority of the people not wanting to hear the truth. Because they would rather cling to what they are taught.

    James Washington, now a deceased church historian, says that after every revolution, the winners of that revolution write down what the revolution was about so that their children can learn it, whether it's true or not. They don't learn anything at all about the Arawak, they don't learn anything at all about the Seminole, the Trail of Tears, the Cherokee. They don't learn anything. No, they don't learn that.

    What they learn is 1776, Crispus Attucks was the one black guy in there fighting against the British... They learn that. And they cling to that. And when you start trying to show them you only got a piece of the story, and lemme show you the rest of the story, you run into vitriolic hatred because "you're desecrating our myth. You're desecrating what we hold sacred." And what you're holding sacred is a miseducational system that has not taught you the truth.

    Reagan wasn't the first to recognize the value of "dumbing down" the electorate, but he gets "credit" for being the first president to pursue it vigorously -- to actively work against the best interests of the nation to promote the Republican take-over of government.

    But Clinton was smart enough to see the value of that approach to a certain kind of politican. He learned a lot from St. Ronnie and made standardized testing -- rather than producing well-informed critical thinkers -- the end-goal of the educational process while he was governor of Arkansas. If anyone thinks Clinton was any better than Reagan/Bush/shrub on education, I have two words for you: Donna Shalayla. And three more: ignorant, lying bitch.

    "The only thing necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing." -Edmund Burke

    by carolita on Thu May 01, 2008 at 10:35:31 AM PDT

    •  Just so. The schools represent (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      carolita

      the path to salvation in terms of reviving the lost art of crap detection. More on that in the next installment . . .

      ;-)

      As nightfall does not come all at once, neither does oppression. - Justice William O. Douglas

      by occams hatchet on Thu May 01, 2008 at 11:59:39 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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