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AdLib On October - 8 - 2009

VA_Tech_MediaThere 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.

Categories: Featured, The Media

Written by AdLib

My motto is, "It is better to have blogged and lost hours of your day, than never to have blogged at all."

24 Responses so far.

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  1. Kalima says:

    I disagree, we care too much to let it happen. No, this is not the way.

  2. nellie says:

    It’s laziness. And penny pinching.

    Real journalism is hard work. It takes training — years of it. It takes patience. You have to sit in on a lot of boring meetings. You have to wade through pages and pages of transcripts and budgets and bills. And you have to be smart enough to understand what you’re hearing and seeing. You have to be willing to go to dangerous places and talk to hostile people. And when all is said and done, you have to have the wisdom to know when you’ve come across something important. And THEN you have to have the humility to be able to communicate it to people who have an 8th grade education.

    That’s the world of the real journalist. You can’t do that on a shoestring. And you can’t do it with a stable of self-congratulating wannabe cocktail party hopefuls.

    That, IMHO, is the state of television news right now.

    • AdLib says:

      Very much value your perspective on this. Agreed on all points you make.

      On the practical side of being a journalist, the corporate mindset is that they feel they can afford to cut on that side because in their minds, journalists don’t bring in revenue, ratings do.

      Slashing the budgets and international offices makes sense to the corporate bosses because they see no direct connection between investigative and comprehensive journalism and their quarterly report…except the expense.

      That’s where the aspects I focused on merge with the aspects you focused on. It’s cheaper and (sadly) more effective to goose up ratings and earnings by throwing pretty talking heads spouting extremist views or arguing opinions than investing time and responsibility in providing quality journalism.

      The corporations have made a concerted effort to de-fund investigative journalism and news gathering and analysis.

      Like everything else corporate capitalism has degraded, it’s all about the balance sheet, providing the minimal amount of quality necessary to return increased quarterly returns.

      Some things should be non-profit because they’re too vital to be undermined by greed and IMO, health care and journalism are two of those things.

  3. whatsthatsound says:

    Welcome back, and great article! This is exactly how it happens when corporations run things. Because corporations “serve” consumers and shareholders, not citizens. It’s all about inflating profits so that the CEOs can justify their huge bonuses. The quality goes down, in the food, in the news, in the political options, in the entertainment industry, etc., because the connection of “person to person” has been supplanted by “profit seeking entity to consumer”. That’s corporatocracy in a nutshell, and it’s what the system has become.

    • AdLib says:

      Thanks WTS!

      Absolutely, corporate capitalism in it’s full splendor.

      In addition to the corruption that corporations would naturally bring to news shows, I think the idea of an all news channel needing to attract an audience…that is owned by a massive corporation as all three 24/7 news networks are…makes it inescapable that the gravity of ratings will continue to pull “news” deeper and deeper into the realm of entertainment.

      And to entertain, the most outrageous people and statements must be promoted and “newsertainment” must be written and created to sustain ratings.

    • Questinia says:

      Where’s da noblesse? Where’s da oblige?

  4. Questinia says:

    Obama is turning into a scapegoat. He is being blamed for everything. What most people don’t know is, once it’s been established that you’re a scapegoat, it’s virtually impossible to shake that role. Unless you perform a miracle.

    So Obama is being enslaved, literally, by MSM messages as they perpetuate falsehoods and give front and center attention to the concrete-minded, ignoranti who are anxious and angry. JUST the kind of people who promulgate the perseverative “news” myths leading to scapegoatism.

    So sad no one realizes this but me.

    Oh, and Adlib, while you’ve been away, I decided to take over the site. So please, any further posts need to be cleared by moi. I thank-you and welcome back! Namaste.

    • AdLib says:

      Thanks for welcoming me back to Planet Questinia. Now I know how The President of Honduras felt. Well, at least it was a bloodless coup. And catered from what I understand (I heard the crab puffs were to die for).

      I think the MSM is using this period of waiting for the process to deliver a Health Care Bill as an excuse to raise all kinds of questions about Pres. Obama…because they have nothing else to fill programming.

      Think about what Bush had accomplished in his first 9 months. Think harder. Anything? He did spend more time at his faux ranch cutting brush, more vacation time in his first 9 months than I think any other president ever had.

      Yet, Obama who passed the stimulus, kept the country from collapsing into a depression, he hasn’t done enough.

      When health care reform passes with a public option, as I believe it will, they will all change their tunes and wring their hands over Obama doing too much too quickly.

      Fickle bastards.

      • Questinia says:

        It also relates to this country’s fear and distrust of excellence. Excellence is exotic. Obama is exotic. Planet Questinia is exotic. That’s why PQ will never achieve wide readership.

        So I dutifully cede the spoils and the site back to you Adlib. And by spoils I mean the leftover crab puffs.

        • AdLib says:

          Also the anti-intellectualism of ‘Meruhcans.

          As in many problematic societies, America harbors the resentment of the ignorant towards the educated, hostility towards science, rejecting seeing grays instead of black and white and insisting that everyone believes in the same version of an ancient fable about why we exist and what happens when we die.

          BTW, the crab puffs rock! Any Vienna Sausages left?

          • Questinia says:

            Long story short…we be in a shit load of trouble.

            How did this happen? Why did religion get such a toehold?

            These are rhetorical questions.

            • AdLib says:

              It all kind of makes me root for the opt out public option plan.

              In a general way, it would help get our society back on the proper path of evolution and let the lesser mentally equipped shorten their own lives.

              A helpful and voluntary thinning of the herd.

              Only problem is that there would be many innocent people in each backward state who would be unwilling victims of the majority’s ignorance.

              If that plan came into effect, there should be a relocation fund set up to help people move to a civilized state.

              Or maybe we can just encourage Texas and the others to secede?

  5. KQuark says:

    Great stuff I could not agree more. Great to have you back posting.

    The other thing the 24/7 media does is compress the time with which government can act. Reagan was almost a full two years into his presidency and the unemployment rate was 10.8% but without cable news pounding him 24/7 he was given time for the economic cycle to recover. Because of 24/7 news everyone wants everything fixed NOW.

    Social Security passed two almost 3 years into FDR’s presidency. Can you imagine how cable news would have framed that debate?

    • AdLib says:

      Thanks, my friend.

      Indeed, it is now a standard story for the MSM to question why huge changes to American society don’t happen overnight… and criticize Obama for not being a magic genie who can just blink and make everything change.

      And let’s not forget the fallacy of claiming to present all sides of an issue by having lunatics froth about insane accusations, “Why hasn’t he come out to specifically oppose Zombie Hitlers? Maybe because he supports Zombie Hitlers taking over America?!”

    • Questinia says:

      Micro-sagittal sections of time which are so information packed, it’s like living in the life span of a fruit fly.

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