"A really efficient totalitarian state would be one in which the all-powerful executive of political bosses and their army of managers control a population of slaves who do not have to be coerced, because they love their servitude. To make them love it is the task assigned, in present-day totalitarian states, to ministries of propaganda, newspaper editors and schoolteachers...."
-- Aldous Huxley (Brave New World, foreword to 1946 edition)
Folks on the Internet are having a field day with Rupert Murdoch's Fox News Network finally getting what it so richly deserves in Robert Greenwald's recently released documentary, "Outfoxed: Rupert Murdoch's War on Journalism." At long last, the sound of a warped and twisted tree falling in the journalism forest was not only heard, but thanks to American Progress and MoveOn.org, was celebrated in thousands of "house parties" all across the country.
I must admit for a while there, I just kicked back and enjoyed it -- stretched out every minute -- wallowed in orgiastic delight -- grinning throughout like someone who has sex only once a year, but -- Whoop! -- tonight's the night! Nobody in the business deserves the comeuppance of a dressing-down more than Fox. Australian-born billionaire Murdoch and his Fox News chairman and former Reagan/Bush adviser Roger Ailes, the Karl Rove of cable, have been dropping their laundry and mooning the free world for years -- steamrolling the truth, manipulating world opinion -- making a mockery of the once revered institution of journalism.
I even rejoiced at the news that a group of media organizations, to include AlterNet, TrueMajority and MoveOn.org, petitioned the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to make Fox desist from false advertising by using the phrase "Fair and Balanced" as its trademark. Such action is long overdue. There's nothing remotely fair or balanced in the obnoxious 24/7 stand-up comedy routine that Murdoch passes off as news...
The Real World
But then, I reluctantly came back to the real world. Even more reluctantly, I realized that Fox is perhaps the more honest of US mainstream print and electronic media. No, really. Watch and listen closely. Preening, sanctimonious spinmeisters and wide-eyed, mini-skirted blonde bimbos wrap up their slanted reporting by defiantly proclaiming, "Fox News -- Fair and Balanced." Then they add a smirking caveat -- "As Always..."
Can't argue with that. As always, Fox has never pretended to be anything other than fiercely biased toward the hard right, and has been not only a strident supporter and protector of George W. Bush since his 2000 selection, but -- with the help of those like Matt Drudge -- continues to be his partner in crime.
Think about it. Think about the brazen Fox News attack on the Clinton administration in January 2001 as power changed hands and the feral Karl Rove "marked" his territory with the first of many vicious leaks to the media -- a strategy that continues to be the modus operandi of the Bush regime today. White House offices trashed, Rove said. Air Force One stripped clean. Fox news director Brit Hume, along with anchor Tony Snow and correspondent "Campaign" Carl Cameron, worked round the clock, determined to make Bill and Hillary Clinton's legacy one of looting and vandalism -- a final degradation for the man who refused to die no matter how many times they killed him.
Within two weeks, officials at Andrews Air Force Base had debunked the Air Force One charges, and the General Services Administration found that there had been no vandalism, but it would be mid-May before Snow would concede on camera that, "Rumors to the contrary, the GSA says the Clinton administration did not trash the White House or despoil Air Force One...Okay, I'm sorry..." Snow grinned, "the ex-president's pals have a legitimate beef."
Hume has yet to weigh in on the matter or apologize for falsely reporting that the Clintons had taken the plane's "porcelain, china...silverware and even the salt and pepper shakers." And Cameron stood his ground. He refused to accept the GSA investigation, calling it merely a "cursory inspection" and blustered, "As for whether or not there was vandalism, it has not been proved or, for that matter, disproven..."
A Different Journalistic World
We live in a vastly different journalistic world than the one outlined by Walter Williams, the first dean of the Missouri School of Journalism, in his Journalist's Creed in 1908, or for that matter, the one presented to me in journalism classes more than two decades ago. Bias was anathema to any self-respecting reporter, and we believed -- fervently believed -- that journalism was such a noble calling that no one would dare besmirch it with rampant anonymous sources or unchecked facts. But "bias" long ago fell by the wayside; journalism is now totalitarian propaganda driven by corporate agenda. Today's journalism world is unfriendly, mean-spirited, partisan -- and destructive.
It's a world of NBC and Tim Russert, who opened the Sept. 13, 2000 Hillary Clinton/Rick Lazio debate with a blatant attempt to rattle Clinton by demanding -- "would you care to apologize to the American people for lying about the vast, right-wing conspiracy you said was out to get your husband? Do you," Russert asked, smugly certain that he had backed the bitch into a corner, "regret misleading the American people?"
And a world of CBS and Dan Rather who, in the marching-band lead-up to international slaughter, destroyed in one fell swoop any shred of credibility he will ever have as a serious journalist. I can no longer "hear" Rather when he speaks. Any time Rather opens his mouth, I am reminded of his remarks on CNN's Larry King program, to wit..."Bush is my president. Whatever he tells me to do, I'll just salute, line up behind him and say 'Yes Sir!" Then, taking journalistic absurdity to new heights, Rather -- blinking back patriotic tears -- smartly saluted!
It's a crazy, Orwellian world of Fox nemesis CNN, just one of the many voices of Time Warner, the world's largest media company. CNN also hides its covert news censorship and selective bias behind the unsubstantiated slogan: "CNN -- the Most Trusted Name In News," and the highly improbable claim that "More Americans trust CNN than any other news network..."
The easily cowed CNN is far more likable than Fox. Like Fox, CNN is not only unquestionably loyal to Bush, but is proud to be his "nanny," jealously protecting him from criticism and bad press. Earlier this month, a petulant Bush stomped out of a press briefing when reporters asked him about his relationship with the odious "Kenny Boy" Lay, and left White House spokesman Scott McClellan standing there with his bare face hanging out.
Amazing news. However, CNN, who usually hangs onto Bush's every word, saw fit to air ONLY the Scott McClellan portion of the briefing. With the possible exception of the fabulous Capital Hill Blue, censorship of this presidential temper tantrum appears to be universal. If proof is needed that the mainstream US media shamelessly protects this totally worthless, morally-impaired warmonger -- this is it.
And it's a world where a journalist like Time Magazine's Margaret Carlson still had her job after proudly making a snickering admission that the media's tacit lemming agreement to trash, and to ultimately destroy, Vice President Al Gore in the run-up to the 2000 election was because it was "easier than having to work to dig out stuff from George Bush's past" -- and, by golly -- because "it was so darn much FUN..."
Of course such mindless cruelty is nothing new in journalism's "embedded" world. Since the cold war, US regimes have worked tirelessly both within and through the media to condition American citizens to believe whatever is on their newsstands or beamed into their living rooms. Americans no longer question whether their government represents them. They do not question why members of their watchdog media no longer patrol the perimeters of democracy, but sit happily on one branch of one tree -- chirping like mockingbirds...
The Media's Great Adventure
A conscious decision had to have been made at the highest media-military-industrial corporate levels to embark upon this bloody adventure of world conquest. With profits spreading as far as the eye could see, it's delusionary to imagine the Who, What, When, Where, Why, and How of Walter Williams' journalism even creating a blip on the screens of Murdoch's sprawling five-continent News Corp., General Electric (NBC, CNBC, MSNBC), Viacom (CBS, UPN), Time Warner (CNN) or Walt Disney (ABC).
Journalists who considered themselves trustees for the public, who refused to betray that trust by suppressing the news were quickly discredited as paranoid conspiracy theorists and were either marginalized or axed outright. Author Michelle Goldberg, in her analysis of the book, Into the Buzzsaw, a compilation of horror stories of 18 journalists who dared to buck the corporate media system, says, "There's something of an X-Files feel to a lot of these stories, though not in the way that condescending guardians of official truth think. Rather, their surreal feeling comes from the first-person experiences of people finding the institutions they've served all their lives suddenly turning on them."
When profits are threatened, corporate parents have a tendency to eat their young. Goldberg says once a journalist has been tossed out of the inner circle, "anything they write can be smeared as sour grapes or mere ranting. The media has already branded them unreliable, so their charges are extremely unlikely to be taken seriously."
Ego-driven media such as Fox and CNN, however, were happy to cast their grins to the wind and become carney barkers whose job was to convince a doubting public that there was no reality beyond the star-spangled images on their TV screens. The now infamous Fox memos warned correspondents to avoid "whining" anti-war protesters and to not air US bombs killing Iraqi civilians. No problem. Most journalists, eager to add "war correspondent" to their resumes, were happy to create a war -- just to cover it.
In a "fair and balanced" revelation during the March 28 Fox News Sunday, Hume echoed defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld's earlier remarks -- "...if Washington D.C. were the size of Baghdad, we would be having something like 215 murders a month...There's going to be violence in a big city," Hume shrugged, and went on to grump that critics of President Bush -- including families of American soldiers killed in his Iraq war -- should "just get over it..."
Even with their resounding fall from grace, it gives me no pleasure to say our state-controlled media brought it upon themselves by becoming Bush administration whores. If Greenwald's "Outfoxed" does nothing else, it at least is prompting a national debate on the state of our media and the price American citizens are paying for failing to demand answers to journalism's five W's and one H.
PBS--I wouldn't sell my integrity for all the money in the world. Not for a hundred million, billion, trillion dollars!
FOX--Then you're crazy!
CNN--I know you are but what am I?
ABC--You're a spineless Fox wannabe!
CBS--I know you are but what am I?
NBC--You're an idiot!
PRINT MEDIA--I know you are but what am I?
WEEKLY STANDARD, NEWSMAX, FREE REPUBLIC--You're a slimy traitor!
RUSH LIMBAUGH, SEAN HANNITY, ANN COULTER-- I know you are but what am I? I know you are but what am I? I know you are but what am I?
WE THE PEOPLE--What about the lies Bush told us? Why are more than 900 of our young people dead; tens of thousands of innocent Iraqis and Afghans dead? When will you stop the madness? Who is responsible for this obscenity? Where is the outrage? How could you allow this to happen?
BILL O'REILLY--SHUT UP! JUST SHUT UUUUP!!
Sheila Samples is an Oklahoma freelance writer and a former US Army Public Information Officer. She is a proud member of the Order of Saint Barbara -- the Field Artillery's Patron Saint. She will accept praise and atta-boys at: email@example.com. Complaints and death threats should be directed to her cousin, Junior Samples, at BR-549.
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It's the Questions Stupid!