Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Watching the News Hour Follow Orders

 A Soothing Introduction of Literary Largesse

Following the "sound and the fury" of the mid-term election, a dismal quiet seems to have blanketed the faint optimism of only a few weeks before.  Although not particularly promising for the nation, this eerie, peaceful prelude need not be simply dispatched without reflection.

Yes, we can see the swirling maelstrom rushing toward our starboard bow, but in the meantime, we can take our afternoon tea on the poop deck and enjoy a last, fleeting opportunity to reflect and observe.  Further, although vast, encompassing conclusions might seem more legitimate, we can still chose to spend these last moments of serenity concentrating on some palliative, distracting minutia rather than any keel shattering "big picture."

So, what shall we ponder while sipping this last cup of "Earl Grey, hot?"

Let's try a "word game."

MeanMesa has watched with amazement as our old favorite, the PBS News Hour, plummeted from its past glory into a publicly funded, slightly diluted version of the Fox "News."  Not only the penetrating depth of the transformation has become too shockingly visible during the process, but the hair raising speed of the descent has been the "frosting on the cake."

We've encountered an unsavory collection of words issuing forth in what had previously been a far more objective commentary.  For the bubble gum chomping "conspiracy monger," seeking some direct evidence of "editorial mischief" arising from the influence of the News Hour's interesting new sponsors, the clues might still remain somewhat elusive, but, once illuminated brightly under the perceptive gaze of MeanMesa, the subtleties gain an unavoidable materiality.

Plugging Short Current Essays

If, perchance, you have missed the MeanMesa posting which enumerates all the causes of this "mean spirited" analysis, revisit: Marking the Demise of the Late, Great PBS News Hour    A tear soaked deposition of the wrongs, outrages and injustices of the crime is  there.

Marketing the "Terror of the Moment"

With a morbid sort of sparkling infatuation, MeanMesa took the liberty of keeping an index card and pen close at hand during the last week preceding the election.  Each time one of these puzzlingly suggestive terms was presented, always nestled suspiciously among the latest news commentary on the PBS News Hour, MeanMesa, although heroically challenged by every possible geriatric complaint from arthritis to early dementia, meticulously noted the words or phrases on the index card.

Now,  while still savoring this dwindling last sunset on these peaceful seas, MeanMesa has, quite accidentally, mind you, encountered this very same, exact index card here at the "posting desk" of our small, humble blog.

What, exactly, were the terms MeanMesa noted while watching the "coverage" of the upcoming election?  Because we have now entered a "new language" as a means for reporting the "facts," and, reporting them in the News Hour's newly adopted semantic technique of being always and everywhere, "fair and balanced..." we can present a few selected examples in the form of a foreign language textbook. 

For each case, MeanMesa will first denote the specific term or phrase.  This will be followed by an abbreviated account of the origin of the term.  Finally, a contextual example will be provided to assist the reader in syntactical understanding.

1.  "Decimated"

Military: To reduce to one tenth.  The army was decimated in the battle.

The President is watching as his Democratic Majority in the House is decimated by the wave of voters returning to the GOP after 2008.

2. "Wreckage"

The result of destroying a previous state or order.  The wreckage of the car showed the speed of impact.

The wreckage of the House Democratic majority will be unable to pursue the policies of the administration.

3. "Rout"

Military: A decisive event which destroyed previous order and organization.  The battle resulted in a rout of the attacking force.

The election rout of the Democrats will replace the House Leadership.

4. "Only Able to Claim Victory a Day Later"

Military:  The victory was a desperate one, difficult to determine or decided more by fate than by causes and effects.

The incumbent in Washington State's senatorial race was only able to claim victory a day later.

5. "Fall Out"

Military: The chaotic or unpredictable descent of nuclear material following an atomic blast.  No one could escape the radioactive fall out after the bombs exploded.

We will report the fall out of the mid term elections.

Sickening Conclusions

Selecting the fifth and last example will be a good choice to further explain MeanMesa's complaint here.

The previously always fairly objective News Hour commentator, Gwen Ifill, seriously "soiled herself" with this one.  Over and over, she "reported" -- always, by the way, before the elections had actually been held -- that the News Hour would "report" the fall out of the elections.

Is MeanMesa "splitting hairs" here?

Probably not.  The essence of this posting is revealed when we consider alternate words which might have been used if a more objective news policy had been in place, that is, a reporting policy not so heavily contaminated by the interests -- and influence -- of these new, suspicious sponsors.

Rather than Gwen's relentlessly repeated phrase, "Fall Out," all sorts of other choices of words were easily available: "Election results,"  "Election out comes," and so forth.  The insult grew even worse when KNME's "New Mexico In Focus" picked up the term.

The black man with the "coke bottle glasses" literally inundated his every  "air time" sentence with the same term and all of its biasing implications.  In an awkward, that is, "awkward" even for the local public broadcast company, KNME which is  fairly reliably awkward all the time anyway, a commercial including the term was saturating every televised moment available for the idea's promotion.

So, did the questionable use of the term "Fall Out" influence the "Outcome" of the elections?   


Further, that "possibly" gains significant inertia when one acknowledges the  constant broadcast of hundreds of such terms, each possibly individually innocuous, but, en masse, discouragingly significant when one considers the incredible number of times they were injected into the "news" and commercials for the "news."

Yes, the Democrats did, indeed, lose the election.  However, they were not defeated by the Republicans -- even counting the freak show of Tea Baggers on the sidelines.  They were defeated by the "news."

MeanMesa has jokingly asserted in the past that only so much can be done with a smelly mass of hill billies and bigots.  This election presents, front and center, an unhappy exception to that general rule.

This can be done with hill billies and bigots once their illiterate confusion is adequately inflamed by enough of this new form of "news."

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