Friday, February 12, 2010

"Eating" the News: Always Pretending It Is What It Isn't

Watching the news? Always remember what they are doing. Uh, wait. What are they doing?

Now, we have observed the "secret scheme" employed during the autocracy to sustain the "Endless Campaign" idea all through those gut wrenching years. The agenda was simple enough. The hill billies and bigots, the W's propaganda militia, had to remain engaged at any price -- a rather tall standing order when one considers that the attention capacity of such folks is roughly equivalent to a marble in a mayonaise jar in the hands of a bored five year old.

What had, in previous decades, been presented by our nation's leadership as more lasting points defining and justifying policy, had to be reborn and revived almost daily to keep these semi-literates inflamed. Anything less and they would not be able to remember exactly what had set their "hair on fire" an hour before. As a consequence, during the eight long years of the autocracy the mindless blather emerging from the White House Press Secretary and every neo-con Congressman who could find a microphone amounted to a daily repetition of fear creation and war mongering.

Exaggerated? Try to remember phrases such as "Cut and Run," or "Stay the Course." Most of the selections were three words, each one constructed with a single syllable -- a tasty treat indeed, one blandly palatable for the otherwise seriously challenged, Republican voting Troglodyte.

The point here is that this torrent of hate inducing nonsense never ended! The same point presents the essential premise of this MeanMesa post. All this investment of time and money masqueraded as something as innocent as "managing public opinion." The American voters heard essentially nothing else besides more of this same "amping" from their government, and, they were clearly, ah, "well managed" as a result.

Well, the idea of "managed public opinion" is something of a new creation. Prior to this most recent refinement of the practice, public opinion used to materialize from public consideration of, rather than "talking points," the actual consideration of information. That is, information would disseminate through the "news," the public would consequently inform itself as to what the information was and its relative credibility, and then the public, usually after long, heated discussions over back yard fences and in beer parlors and barbershops, decide what public opinion was to be, all derived roughly from the information.

Such a process left "memory challenged" hill billies and bigots stranded on the sidelines. Generally speaking, most of them could not endure a torturous, thirty minute long news report, read a news paper or magazine or, in any other fashion, effectively access the news. The GOP saw this interesting phenomenon as a strategic asset which could be exploited with the "endless campaign" idea.

In so many words, the process of receiving and considering the news, forming an individual opinion based on such facts and then becoming an element in the national public opinion about whatever the "burning question of the day" might be, was replaced by a new process very similar to the duties faced by a juror. The logical necessity of hosting any meaningful consideration of factual information, a task now deemed far too demanding, was replaced by simply forming an opinion about the hypothetically "opposing sides" which were now presented as the exclusive "ultra-digestible with minimum chewing" choices in any debate.

The invitation from this new, slicked down media philosophy was simple. "We will fabricate both sides of an issue. These will be the only sides which need to be considered. In fact, there will be no need to consider them at all, just pick one. After you have done that, we will all pretend that your have formed an opinion which will, as streams flow together into rivers, become your contribution to 'public opinion.' You won't need to tire yourself out thinking about all sorts of facts and stuff."

The promise was also rather simple. "Everyone, especially the hill billies and bigots, will be able to -- absolutely effortlessly -- have their own 'opinion!' Just think of all the time and energy you will save by simply picking one or the other of the two choices we have created for your consideration. As a citizen of the democracy, we are certain that your have far more important things to occupy your time than fiddling around with complicated government stuff."

In a jury deliberation room, all the weight lifting will be done on machines -- no free lifting will be required. The lawyers have presented both sides of the case, and all that is required of you, the juror, is to pick the one which seems to make the most sense. No verdict other than one of two is possible.

The "endless campaign" idea very effectively exploits this same theme. The corporate media and, very often, the government presents not robust information which might be considered until one has arrived at some conclusions, but instead, a dull flock of rather sterile opposing possibilities. There will be no choices made which are not either one or the other side of one of these amateurish, puerile pre-packaged, pre-digested, sinister "closing arguments."

The success of this plot is now all around us. Presenting such limited choices for public debate is now a full time infatuation of not only pundits, but, in most cases, also of the corporate news delivery organizations. Every "burning question of the day" will be presented as a dichotomy, a fear inducing threat, not a problem to be solved. Any factual information will be savagely dismembered long before it reaches the air waves. Basic facts will be obscured in favor of barely disguised, re-framed, frightening, manipulative opinions or outrages.

The consumer target of news presented in the old fashion was the interested citizen. Our democracy was squarely based on the idea that citizens, once aware of the facts in any matter would, sooner or later, arrive at the best solution to any challenge -- one which would reflect their well informed interest in goals such as security, prosperity and idealism.

However, with their abiding obsession with maintaining and expanding a crippling diviseness and its conveniently polarized electorate, the neo-con media's corporate masters now present only a carefully groomed "multiple choice" version of the possibilities in any given circumstance. Remember, they consider the "burning question of the day" absolutely central to the levels of their continued viewership and, hence, their corporate profits and influence.

Their new mottos are: "No threat, no news." "If there are no effortless decisions, then the question is too complicated." "There are exactly two sides of everything. If there happen to be more than two sides, just pick two and refer to the rest as fringe lunacy."

To bring this issue to a more immediate realm, consider these questions.

If, after watching your favorite media news program, are you ever curious about information which was obviously omitted?

After watching representatives of the exclusive, opposing sides of some current event, do you ever have the suspicion that you really don't agree with either one?

After following numerous commentators about some issue which interests you, do you ever notice that certain phrases seem to recur -- spontaneously, of course -- over and over?

Do the various options presented by news casters and pundits concerning a specific issue ever seem to be suspiciously limited, that is, are they presenting false choices?

Further, consider the following examples of cynically fabricated propositions which have emerged in the media with far more implied factual viability than the facts support.

The Tea Baggers are a terrifying new third political party.

Homosexuals will degrade military effectiveness by upsetting unit cohesion.

Sadam Hussein was behind the 911 attack.

Climate change is a fraud, designed to channel tax money to environmental crooks.

The FBI is unable to effectively interrogate the "under wear bomber" without torturing him.

The Stimulus Bill did not work.

There is a terrible crime wave which requires any reaction necessary.

Health Care will raise taxes and destroy jobs.

Hey, feel more involved and add your own examples to the list. This poop is being sold as factual. After American citizens consume this poop, they become more and more divided, effortlessly choosing one slanted position or the other without every really thinking about their own interests or the interests of the country.

MeanMesa encourages all visitors to find and deploy a new determination to find news sources which can be trusted, follow them daily and then think for yourselves. It is high time for ideas which arise from such a process to, once again, become the guiding light for our futures. The information -- "public opinion" --  "gang rape" must end.

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