Thoughts on National Media

by Steffan Chirazi on April 9, 2004


My friend, a warm-hearted, balanced and highly rational older liberal, winced in pain.
“How,” he started, arms flying in the air as the word spurted out, “can people BUY this stuff?”
The arms stayed back, joined by eyes clenched shut.
“I just cannot BELIEVE it,” he moaned, tongue hanging out of his mouth, a thin foamy film lathering up ijn the corners of his mouth “WHY?” he screamed, lurching forward, grabbing me by the collar and shaking me violently, “HOW? I WANT ANSWERS GOD DAMN YOU?!!!”
Once I had managed to disengage his fingers from my throat, slap his cheek a few times, remind him where we were and held him as he started sobbing uncontrollably, I started to formulate an answer.
He was, of course, talking about the Bush administration’s tenure, and more specifically about the disingenuous occupation of Iraq, and we had just finished bemoaning the latest developing whitewash, those 9/11 ‘hearings’ (or should we say ‘clearings’?) before Bob momentarily lost his faculties.

It’s a big question with many answers, but most of them sadly begin and end with two words:
national media.
He who controls the source of ‘news’ controls the minds of many. And as you read further, keep reminding yourself of that horrifically accurate cliche ‘a little knowledge is a dangerous thing.’

“Bob,” I started, “remember that most people feel informed because they watch Fox News…”
Now I read back over that, it’s even filthier than when I said it.
It’s true.
Ask around at work.
OK, maybe not YOUR friends, but believe me, from Pleasanton to Peoria, from Fresno to Fayetville, people are watching Fox News or, at best, local Fox news affiliates and thinking that the de-contextualized snapshots of Iraq they’re seeing are all there is to it.

Any decent person will confirm that these days it takes three to four reported versions of one incident to even begin formulating a reasonable opinion as to what actually happened. Play this against a society seemingly intent on making A.D.D. a reasonable part of daily life, and you have a massive problem… highly-coiffeured pea brains who can focus on Fox News just long enough to hear their coterie of right-wing jabberheads bark ‘terrorists’ and ‘winning the war’…

Actually, the more I think about it, the funnier it is.
Public opinion is now controlled by media outlets who spray words such as ‘terror’ ‘extemists’ and ‘Islam’ like confetti.
Fear and ignorance, two common bedfellows, then move in for a long-haul visit to the mass consciousness and, err, Bob’s yer uncle, a trained public.
A defeated public.
A public who feel they know everything but know nothing.
A public without experience or context.
A public beaten into apathy by the false spectre of knowledge.
A public who believe these clowns in government are ‘protecting’ us.
A public who believe that these clowns in government are acting for the civility of all concerned.
A public who believe that our way of life, with it’s plasma TVs and Prada shoes (or even it’s Target superstores and McDonalds) is better than any other.
A public who are thrown big, red herrings whenever the truth threatens to break out, and devour them a la carte.

Hunter S.Thompson used to talk of the ‘thieves, pimps, muggers and jackyls’ who ran the country.
I wonder how he would define the current collection of slick-suited reprobates?
“Bob,” I chuckle, “this whole thing is increasingly feeling like a Monty Python movie.”
Except every single day, the joke is on us.

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