Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Talk of the town, part two

In case you were wondering who he meant, he laid it out:
I mean the people obsessed with control, using the government to threaten and intimidate. I mean the people who are hollowing out middle-class security even as they enlist the sons and daughters of the working class in a war to make sure Ahmed Chalabi winds up controlling Iraq’s oil. I mean the people who turn faith-based initiatives into a slush fund and who encourage the pious to look heavenward and pray so as not to see the long arm of privilege and power picking their pockets. I mean the people who squelch free speech in an effort to obliterate dissent and consolidate their orthodoxy into the official view of reality from which any deviation becomes unpatriotic heresy.

That's who I mean.
And who is he? Bill Moyers, that's who, speaking to the National Conference for Media Reform on May 15. You may have heard some scuttlebutt about the speech. It's all true. And it's worth reading in full.

Something else he said was of interest to me. Moyers referred to author Jonathan Mermin as having quoted David Ignatius of the Washington Post
on why the deep interests of the American public are so poorly served by Beltway journalism. The "rules of our game," says Ignatius, "make it hard for us to tee up an issue … without a news peg. ... If Senator so and so hasn't criticized postwar planning for Iraq," says Ignatius, "then it’s hard for a reporter to write a story about that."
Mermin also said that PBS's Jim Lehrer admitted that
unless an official says something is so, it isn't news. Why were journalists not discussing the occupation of Iraq? Because, says Lehrer, "the word occupation … was never mentioned in the run-up to the war."
Why is that of interest to me? Because at least as far back as May of 1991, I was referring to "a spineless news media all too ready, even eager, to let reality be manufactured in the press office of the White House" - because even if something newsworthy does break through that screen, unless some public official, "preferably the president," keeps harping on it, coverage stops.

And, as I remarked a few years before that,
while it's true that, as industry bigwigs will vehemently insist at the least provocation, the mass media can't decide what people think, they do have a major influence in determining what they think about. If an issue isn't covered, it ceases to exist.
And so we remain ignorant - and docile: A free people without information ceases to be free. Thomas Jefferson famously said that the
basis of our government being the opinion of the people, the very first object should be to keep that right; and were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers, or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter.
Unhappily, it seems more and more that we have our newspapers, our magazines, our TVs, our all-news networks - and we still are getting the former.

No comments:

// I Support The Occupy Movement : banner and script by @jeffcouturer / (v1.2) document.write('
I support the OCCUPY movement
');function occupySwap(whichState){if(whichState==1){document.getElementById('occupyimg').src=""}else{document.getElementById('occupyimg').src=""}} document.write('');