Monday, October 3, 2011

Has American Journalism Flatlined?

by Bob Patterson

If Hitler had intended from the very beginning to install a small elite group of supporters in a position of authority in a democratic country, which mostly disagreed with his basic premise that only a limited number of citizens were qualified to run the affairs of state, would it have been a wise course of action for him to candidly admit from the start what his ultimate goal was; or would it have been more expedient for him to do a bit of prevaricating and then use the principles of democracy to subvert the very system of government which he was trying to eliminate?

Didn't he explain in detail, before he started in earnest, how he would achieve his nefarious objective by reducing all issues down, via über-simplification, to a basic slogan and then coast to an easy win?   Were some Germans caught off guard when he did exactly what he said he was going to do?

If a country had a political party that had openly announced that they swore allegiance to the country's flag and were fully committed to returning to that country's founding principles; would anyone who fully understands the meaning of the word "Republic" really be surprised to learn that such a party was working to disenfranchise citizens they deemed ineligible to vote?

Could they secretly have a broad mental reservation about not being obliged to adhere to election results that they considered invalid?   If they did, could they openly announce an effort to challenge the system's validity or would it be better for their ultimate goal if they ostensibly asserted that democratic values were so important that they would send their kids into battle to earn and keep those principles, while secretly working to restore the right to vote only to men who owned land?

Obviously their efforts would initially be better served by very loud assertions of their belief in the method they hoped would become obsolete rather than being so crass and blunt as to proclaim:   "Vote for us so we can disenfranchise you!"

Reducing the issues down to absurdly simplistic slogans (as Don Imus would say:   "bumper sticker it for me.") might seem to streamline the debate, but more often than not it means "the lowest common denominator" rather than providing "a level playing field."

For example could a pseudo intellectual liberal pundit who resorts to long complex sentences, with subordinate relatives clauses and numerous prepositional phrases which would challenge a tea bagger's analytical ability and stymie any effort to correctly diagram it on the chalkboard, be dismissed by a diabolical troll for being "rambling and incoherent"?   Surely Hitler would bestow kudos for such a "slip the punch" response.

In the film "Point Break," the surfing guru Bodhi (Patrick Swayze) advises an FBI agent:   "Think it through, Johnny."   In politics the conservatives prefer to toss out a hot potato and offer the advice "Think fast!" with an accompanying smirk.

Conservatives would not dare to say:   "Don't worry folks, the only thing at stake here is . . . the future of your country!"   Nor would they be very likely to admit the relevancy of the advice from William Claude Dukenfield (AKA W. C. Fields):   "If a thing's worth having; it's worth cheating for."  

Recently some Republicans in Florida broke ranks with the national party to reschedule their state's primary election date.   While it is easy to dismiss all the intricate maneuvering as some silly frat boy game playing (the quarterback reads the defense and calls and audible) but the reality is that the only thing at stake here is . . . the future of the country.

Ostensibly Florida, which is a bastion of teabag party values and acolytes and which traditionally forecasts the person who will become the Republican Party's Presidential nominee indicated a preference for Herman Cain.  

Will his Florida momentum carry him to a quick Florida Primary win or will there be some second thoughts which cause the Sunshine state to pin their hopes on some other dark horse candidate?   Is it remotely possible ("All things are possible through prayer, my son.") that a former governor of their state could be persuaded to accept a win in an effort to revive the old "favorite son" ruse?

Since there is a lot of disgruntle teachers (especially in Wisconsin?) out there waiting for their chance to vote for the next President and since one former governor of Florida can easily be branded as the "education candidate" (isn't his family's name an integral part of the history of the "No child left behind" movement, and didn't he do great things for education in his state?) maybe he can be persuaded to give it a try?  

Before any representative of the Columbia Review of Journalism magazine or the American Journalism Review voices strenuous objections saying that the free press might howls of indignation in response to such a (admittedly bucking great odds) hypothetical election result, we would ask them to remember just how quickly the mainstream media (like a dog and pony show) responded admiringly (and submissively?) to the idea that Howard Dean, in one rash soundbyte, had forfeited his "frontrunner" status to Sen. John Kerry because he had manifested symptoms of being emotionally unstable.

The Fox Views team proposed the idea that Dean had suffered a mental breakdown in public and the Free Press of America, which is normally completely paranoid about being vulnerable to damages for liability lawsuits, quickly seconded the motion without a single instance of a quote from a reliable knowledgeable source about the psychological soundness of the candidate's state of mind.   (Does that mean that the gullible journalists were actually guilty of practicing medicine without a license?   Whatever.   It's too late to worry about the validity of the 2004 Election frontrunner substitution now.)

Does the World's Laziest Journalist really think that the quality of news in America today is so decrepit and unreliable that the mainstream media would meekly follow the lead of some invisible, diabolical Svengali to say (on cue) that by winning the Florida Primary, the Republican Frontrunner for the 2012 Republican Election no longer had to counter a negative (family) brand name image?   Yes.

Wouldn't such a travesty of journalism indicate that the Free Press in America (and one of the reasons for starting the Revolutionary War) was now as extinct as the California Golden Bear (Ursus arctos californicus)?   Yes.

Isn't a free press necessary to permit informed citizens to make intelligent voting decisions?   Isn't that precisely why Hitler clamped a censorship lid on the newspapers in the country where he served as chancellor-for-life?   Did he say:   "Elect me and I'll start a state run news agency"?

Has the Fox Views audience been informed bout the latest news developments at the Japanese nuclear reactors?   Has the Fox audience heard the stories about the feral dog packs now roaming in the Fukushima area?   Do they know the latest developments in the Murdoch hacking scandal probes in the USA and England?   Did they get stories about "Occupy Wall Street" before the arrests began?   Was the Fox Views audience informed about the recent massive oil spill off the coast of Sweden?

Did Australia send troops to aid with the invasion of Libya?

How many American troops were killed this week in Iraq?

In Afghanistan, how many American troops were killed this week?

Hitler specifically made listening to foreign new broadcasts punishable by death.   (Were Murrow's Boys that good?   Yes.)

Back in the day, the newsstand in the Pan Am building in New York City carried the current edition of Paris Match.   Can New Yorkers still buy that publication there?

On Saturday, October 1, 2011, a promotional event for the publication of the 2012 edition of the Project Censored book was held at Moe's Bookstore in Berkeley CA.   One of the problems presented to the editors for this year's installment in the book series, was fitting it all into the book.   They used smaller type but still it sets the record the most number of pages for any of their annual publications.  

Of course if some tea bagger troll (speaking ex cathedra) says that Project Censored is "just" a collection of "Best of" articles substantiated by "scientific evidence" from crackpot sources, that should be sufficient to prove that the 2012 Project Censored book will be regarded by conservative pundits as the latest product from the Amalgamated Conspiracy Theory Factory.   Murdoch's lap dogs will be expected to automatically "second the motion."

Isn't it so easy to refute the implication that America's Free Press (which may have been worth the cost of some of your family members' lives during World War II) is DOA?   All you have to do is point to Fox Views as living proof that Journalism is alive and well in the USA.

The debate over the death of Anwar al-Awlaki was put to permanent rest when Herman Goering said:   "Shoot first and inquire afterwards, and if you make mistakes, I will protect you."

The disk jockey thinks that the Tea Bag party needs an official song and therefore he will humbly offer his suggestions by playing us out with the Horst Wessel song, the 1938 hit (in Germany) The World Belongs to the Strong, and Richard Wagner's Liebestod from Tristan und Isolde.   We have to go (to try to) buy a copy of today's issue of the Volkische Beobachternewspaper.   Have a "Die Dreigroschenoper" type week.

Read also: Where Has JournalismGone?

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