There was a discussion on a news show yesterday, the commentators hosting a pair of talking heads on the topic of Pres. Obama’s having a big problem on the economy. They debated about the big problem being that he doesn’t have “big ideas” to address the economy.
In the face of Pres. Obama being attacked as a racist, socialist, marxist, Manchurian Candidate, enemy of white people, Grey Poupon Mustard Lover, etc, for pursuing the Big Idea of Health Care Reform, they have the gall to accuse him of not having Big Ideas? As if it would be much easier to implement Big Ideas? Anyone remember the Stimulus battle?
On the news channel, Pres. Obama was next criticized for not accomplishing enough since he’s been president.
Fortunately, Reality had popped by to watch the news with me and aside from eating all the Fun-Yums, reminded me that when Obama took office, there was hysteria that the country was plunging into the worst depression in history. And Obama passed the biggest spending/stimulus bill in history. And the country, though it may not be on the firmest financial ground, is not currently panicked that we are plunging into a depression. That’s not a massive accomplishment? Meanwhile, Bush was praised all over the media for “keeping this country safe”…at least before the economy crashed. Bush was praised because nothing happened, Obama is attacked because he helped stop a new Depression. Then again, Bush was white.
That’s when the doorbell rung and Perspective came in and took my seat in my recliner. After finishing my buffalo wings and chugging down my Heineken, he remarked, “Amazing that these people are speaking about this…totally oblivious to where this country was a year ago. By the way, any more Buffalo Wings?”
As later stories on the news channel criticized Pres. Obama on Don’t Ask/Don’t Tell and Afghanistan, I considered what douchebags cable news stations are and how they may indeed be the factor that prevents us from ever returning to true democracy.
It’s not a liberal/Conservative media thing. It’s the business of making money on a 24 hour “news” station. Once the corporations took over and instead of continuing the tradition of news being a public service that was not to be looked at as a profit center, once the news was no longer a small component of a network’s programming and could be accommodated as not being a big profit generator, once the news became the only programming for 24 hour networks…it had to make a profit.
24 hour news channels can’t operate by simply providing the news. There are too many hours in the day and too many other choices for viewers to choose from. So, from a business perspective, if there is no news in a particular day that would “entertain” an audience, the most entertaining “news” possible has to be sought out from even the looniest people or…manufactured by producers.
So topics that aren’t news are created and presented as news every day by the 24/7 channels, sometimes they’re just amplified talking points and press releases, other times they’re constructs conceived out of thin air like, “I know, let’s do a segment, ‘Is Obama Losing Support in the Black Community’!”
So, the wackos who are birthers and teabaggers, etc, have a ready distributor in the form of all of the news networks. Whether supporting or criticizing the extremists, extremists make the best entertainment and that’s really what 24 hour news channels are about. Keeping you watching.
How does that affect our democracy when there is an urgent incentive for “the news” to surround the public in falsehoods and slanted, exploitative issues (even if it’s to discuss how wrong they are)? When there is no perspective, no context for events or issues and the “common knowledge” that is impressed on the public from every direction they turn is not accurate or helpful…how can people get all the information they need to effectively make up their minds on issues?
If the public believes they have all the information they need on an issue to make a decision (death panels, government takeover of health care), they will make up their minds and not seek out more info. And an uninformed or misinformed society necessarily makes decisions that are not to their own benefit. And if it is propaganda sold to them as objective fact, they are helpless to do anything other than serve those who are spreading the propaganda.
With Fox, it’s clear that there is a focused intention to present propaganda as fact. With other 24/7 news stations, I don’t know if the creating and distorting of news is as much intentional as it is an integrated function of needing to be a profitable enterprise… first entertain and get ratings…and fulfill their social duty to inform the people when it doesn’t hurt ratings.