So there’s this news magazine called IN THESE TIMES, which has crazy writer (and socialist!) Kurt Vonnegut as its celebrity editor. As you may know, Kurt Vonnegut is the author of the anti-war novel — who in their right mind is against war; it’s the bread and butter of the military-industrial complex — SLAUGHTERHOUSE 5. But this isn’t about Kurt Vonnegut. It’s about an article in IN THESE TIMES written by someone named Terry J. Allen. The article is called “Thank You, Mr. Bush” (and can be found here: http://www.inthesetimes.com/site/main/article/2738/).
One of the things the article claims is this:
When journalists expose government secrets and crimes, they are simply doing their jobs. They do not need to spill endless ink justifying that role in a democracy — especially when there is no evidence that the disclosures put anything at risk but the president’s poll numbers.
Well, I’ve got a slightly different view, as you might have guessed. There was this guy named Walter Lippman, who was a political commentator, who died in 1974, and he wrote a book all about journalism in democracy, and what he thought was that there were two ways to control the public. One way, see, was to control them with guns, which is what dictatorships do. The other way, was to control their thoughts, to “manufacture their consent” — and the way to do that is by controlling the media. (Now, maybe that’s a false dichotomy. No one has ever tried controlling the public, with, say, Twinkies, and who knows, it might work — but we’ll just pretend that Lippman’s is an accurate assessment and move on.) So, we’re obviously not a dictatorship (nobody’s perfect), we’re an oligarchical republic, and the way an oligarchical republic controls the public is with the media. The media tell people what they’re supposed to think. That’s the media’s job. Not what Terry J. Allen says it is, “expos[ing] government secrets and crimes.” Maybe in a pure democracy, Terry — but what the heck ever gave you the idea that America was intended to be a pure democracy? We were founded by a bunch of Christian land and slave owners who didn’t allow women or people of color to vote.
I mean, come on, Terry! You think the media work for the public? They know who butters their bread. They don’t make their money from subscriptions, for God’s sake. They’re just big corporations that make their money from the advertising monies other big corporations pay them. The media are simply a conduit: they sell people — their readership — to other big corporations. They don’t break news. They tell people what to think. And more, that’s what they’re supposed to do.
Otherwise you get a bunch of people questioning the oligarchical power structure — and that’s the mess we have now. Sure, it’s just scratching the surface. Sure — reporters are still relatively lousy as a whole, but I’m gonna be the canary in the coal mine that is America, and I’m point it out now — while there’s still a chance to right things.
A bunch of media outlets have failed in their responsibility to properly control their journalists, and they are writing truths — and ugly truths — and the public is finding out about them — about crimes, and lies about crimes.
We have journalists beginning to act like their job is uncover “secrets and crimes,” as Terry J. Allen says, and that is a shame. That is no way to control the public mind — and I for one am ashamed of these people. Bush knows what he’s doing. That’s why the oligarchy put him in charge of their government. And now they’re undermining themselves by allowing their journalists off their leashes.
It’s time for them to put their collective foot down. Or start dropping Twinkies from helicopters.