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Conspicuously absent from the media discussion of the government shutdown and debt-ceiling fiasco has been, unsurprisingly, the media’s responsibility for the whole sordid affair. By sacrificing truth on the altar of “objectivity,” creating narratives and bowing to any “authority” with a suit, the media has become a slave to the elite and done a disservice to the nation’s people.


Part of the media’s problem is its blind adherence to “objectivity.” When I interned at a news organization my boss would proudly announce, “we know we did the story right, because we got both the left and right wing crazies angry at us.” That’s right comrades, accuracy is not determined by objective facts, but whether the subjective reaction of various demagogues are equally feverish.


That’s why a government shutdown brought on and explicitly desired by one party finally occurred, both parties are “responsible.” When Paul Ryan puts together an absurd and radically right-wing list of Democratic concessions and calls it “bipartisan,” our slavish news parrots declare it to be “bipartisan.” If Ted Yoho claims breaching the debt ceiling wouldn’t be so bad but Jack Lew (and logic and lots of economists) say it would be awful, it’s time to sit down and have a “debate.”


There is no denying that the media creates and then perpetrates absurd narratives that serve to narrow the field to two corporate friendly establishment candidates. Any candidates that don’t fit within this narrative (say, a Dennis Kucinich, Howard Dean, Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren) will be quickly written off as unelectable.


Don’t believe me? Here is how you end a politician’s Presidential ambitious without discussing his merits:


Howard Dean, off a disappointing showing in the Iowa caucuses, let loose with a primal scream Monday night that seems to have inspired a generation.


None of these articles even mention a single policy proposal from Dean.


We live in a sad Orwellian world in which, “Political language... is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.”


As Gore Vidal noted shortly before his death:


Our only political party has two right wings, one called Republican, the other Democratic.  But Henry Adams figured all that out back in the 1890s.  'We have a single system,' he wrote, and 'in that system the only question is the price at which the proletariat is to be bought and sold, the bread and circuses.’

The government shutdown should be seen as a “bread and circuses” affair, one which the media is cynically drawing in viewers while exploiting the suffering of millions of Americans.


Anyone who has been paying attention should note how coverage of sports and politics have converged, each borrowing strategies and tactics from each other. Veteran football stars graduate to ESPN where they pontificate and debate. Veteran politicians graduate to Fox News and CNN to do the same. Having watched a debate on ESPN about Tony Romo’s performance and a Crossfire debate about the government shutdown I can say, without irony that the ESPN debate contained more statistics, fewer soundbytes and less cynically fallacious thinking. Pundits can lie when they talk about healthcare, but dare not bullshit when discussing football.


Investigative journalism is a dead art. Studios realized long ago that it’s far cheaper to sit four overweight and undereducated “pundits” around the table and have them don tin-foil hats and spew vile bullshit then send a journalist overseas to “investigate” about the “truth.” Journalists who do leave the country to go to a warzone tour through Potemkin villages fabricated to obscure any sense of reality. Journalists, who are certainly educated enough to know what is going on simply prance around like trained seals waiting for whatever scraps of fish their trainers toss them.


After years of voraciously gobbling up any press release flung to them, they have lost all power of critical thinking. They can’t discern facts or truths or evaluate logic or arguments. They see only Ph.Ds, fancy resumes and billfolds (being British doesn’t hurt). This may explain why Niall Ferguson is still taken seriously even though he’s entirely full ofshit. As it happens, they could save money by just letting Niall Ferguson debate himself.


Journalists have treated the possibility of default the way Puritanical housewives treat an illegitimate pregnancy - a horror certainly, and one that should be discussed frequently but without any positive action. How long would Cruz & Company hold out if they knew the press would actually do its job and report on the families that are sufferingwhile Republicans play politics. The press has abrogated every sense of duty or morality it ever possessed.


It may be hard to remember (I certainly don’t) but I’ve been told on good authority that anchors used to actually call out politicians on their bullshit. The debt ceiling debate could be over tomorrow if a news anchor had the balls to stand up to Ted Cruz the way Edward R. Murrow stood up to Joe McCarthy.I’ve even written up a script, based on the Murrow reporting (okay, I just replaced McCarthy with Cruz, easy as pie):


This is no time for men who oppose Senator Cruz's methods to keep silent, or for those who approve. We can deny our heritage and our history, but we cannot escape responsibility for the result. There is no way for a citizen of a republic to abdicate his responsibilities. As a nation we have come into our full inheritance at a tender age. We proclaim ourselves, as indeed we are, the defenders of freedom, wherever it continues to exist in the world, but we cannot defend freedom abroad by deserting it at home.


The actions of the junior Senator from Texas have caused alarm and dismay amongst our allies abroad, and given considerable comfort to our enemies. And whose fault is that? Not really his. He didn't create this situation of fear; he merely exploited it -- and rather successfully. Cassius was right. "The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves."


Good night, and good luck.

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Comment Preferences

  •  I wouldn't hold my breath (0+ / 0-)

    In fact, because they had to be objective at the very end, they'll throw it back on the altar of "False equivalence" tomorrow morning.

    Morning in America, my ass.

  •  well, the way I will handle the media, (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Gooserock

    shut them off ...

    •  Voluntarily Making Yourself the Opposite of (0+ / 0-)

      Jefferson's ideal.

      "If I had to choose between government without newspapers, and newspapers without government, I wouldn't hesitate to choose the latter."
      Probably because Jefferson's press freedom works oppositely to his intentions in our time.

      We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

      by Gooserock on Wed Oct 16, 2013 at 06:50:11 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Chuck Todd (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    alice kleeman, buckstop, RockyMtnLib, Sylv

    Was just on All In, actually showing some emtion, as he told Chris Hayes he was waiting for someone to apologize to the federal employees and contractors  whose finances have been screwed over the last couple of weeks. (he must have some friends or family affected)

    The questions I was screaming at the TV and just emailed to MSNBC were:
    1. Where has Mr. Todd been while this unfolded and can he turn his anger into a legitimate question (with professional journalists' follow up) next time he has a conversation with a Tea Party politician?
    2. When will he drop the equivalency nonsense?

  •  I concur wholeheartedly with (4+ / 0-)

    your evaluation of 'journalism' in today's media.

    Oddly enough, on tonight's NBC news, Brian Williams called the shutdown and debt ceiling cliff-walk the fault of republicans.

    My thinking is that now that some republicans are calling out others for causing this idiocy, it is now safe for a 'news' outlet to tell the truth.

    Like Boehner "doing the right thing", NBC is way too late with this statement. They can't make up for years of mealy-mouthed bullshit and false equivalency that led to this mess.

    Trickle-down theory; the less than elegant metaphor that if one feeds the horse enough oats, some will pass through to the road for the sparrows. - J.K. Galbraith

    by Eric Twocents on Wed Oct 16, 2013 at 07:43:18 PM PDT

  •  May I add (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    RockyMtnLib, codairem, myboo

    Dean Scream was fake story!
    He was trying to shout above the very noisy room but attendees said they could barely hear him.
    What was played in the media was only the feed off his microphone, thus totally wrong impression as out of context.
    Media owners hated Dean for proposing to open them to competition.

    I think it was Diane Sawyer who reported this after the damage was done.

    Deam was framed.

    2parties or 1?
    Dens are vastly superior in my experience.....
    Dems won't hurt you but Republicans will and the Republicans will do it gleefully on purpose.

  •  Irony Alert (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    radabush, joegoldstein
    Anyone who has been paying attention should note how coverage of sports and politics have converged, each borrowing strategies and tactics from each other. Veteran football stars graduate to ESPN where they pontificate and debate. Veteran politicians graduate to Fox News and CNN to do the same. Having watched a debate on ESPN about Tony Romo’s performance and a Crossfire debate about the government shutdown I can say, without irony that the ESPN debate contained more statistics, fewer soundbytes and less cynically fallacious thinking. Pundits can lie when they talk about healthcare, but dare not bullshit when discussing football.
    Or baseball. Just ask Keith Olbermann ...

    (to be fair, he started out doing sports, and is just returning to it. But still...!)

    In all seriousness, words desert me anymore when I have to assign them to describe what corporatized "information servicing" has done to the once-proud vocation of journalism in America. These deliberate, manipulative, false narratives, the missing narratives, the missing context, and the false equivalence, are just about as sedition-inclined as a Ted Cruz. And it has become dangerous to us.

    There has to be some measure of independence restored to our media, to get it out of the hands of a handful of cartels who mean to divide this nation and cause it harm.

    "Turn it off"? Oh, by all means. But don't pretend they don't exist. We all need to get more involved in holding these stenographers accountable for their misleading and deliberate distortion. This shit they spew has to be tempered with reality, and soon. That's not abridging anyone's "Freedom of Speech". There's a vast difference between opinion/editorial about a set of events and deliberate distortion of events and facts, meant to deceive on a mass-broadcast level.

    This all started with "what the Republicans did to language".

    by lunachickie on Wed Oct 16, 2013 at 08:00:40 PM PDT

    •  Second-hand misinformation (0+ / 0-)
      "Turn it off"? Oh, by all means. But don't pretend they don't exist. We all need to get more involved in holding these stenographers accountable for their misleading and deliberate distortion. This shit they spew has to be tempered with reality, and soon. That's not abridging anyone's "Freedom of Speech". There's a vast difference between opinion/editorial about a set of events and deliberate distortion of events and facts, meant to deceive on a mass-broadcast level.
      And that's the point right there - It's not so much what you watch that's the issue, it's that the propaganda, disinformation and outright lies from America's "corporatist media" makes its way out to the deliberately dumbed-down public.

      Who subsequently tend to vote...

      "If you are still playing for Team Republican and want to have any honor whatsoever, you need to leave the Republican Party now, apologize to America, and work to remove it from our political system." - Brad DeLong

      by radabush on Wed Oct 16, 2013 at 08:51:30 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Media and you (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    stunvegas

    We have to keep up a constant barrage of personal letters to the media accusing them of Conservative bias. Give examples and tell them how mad you are about it.

    Conservatives have been waaaaay more energetic and effective at it.

    Blogging to the choir does not count.

  •  The term 'objectivity' (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    codairem, Sylv

    doesn't mean what people who constantly whine about the "liberal media" seem to think it means. By the logic they use, if anyone gets in front of a camera and proclaims the earth is flat, well, damnit! You'd better give that contingency equal time and validation, or your bias is showing.

    liberal bias = failure to validate or sufficiently flatter the conservative narrative on any given subject

    by RockyMtnLib on Wed Oct 16, 2013 at 08:10:08 PM PDT

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