Once upon a time many, many years ago, when I was growing up, I saw actual news reports on that latest invention called television. It is true that I knew a lot of it was propaganda because I had a socialist father, who explained to me the real causes of world events and that great myths about the evils of socialism and other things were being created by the media. It was the age of Joe McCarthy, who was finding communist sympathizers everywhere and forced many brilliant Hollywood writers to flee the country.
However, at that time factual reports about events of consequence in the world were being reported like wars, coups, civil rights, revolutions, poverty, unemployment and, in general, conditions that were serious and affected people in either an adverse or beneficial way. I haven’t seen a lot of serious discussion on television anymore, Bill Moyers being a notable exception, unless it is serious discussion about completely trivial matters. No reporters are allowed to cover the actual brutality and horrors of war now like they could during the Vietnam War. I will bet most Americans don’t know the reported American casualty figures from Iraq and Afghanistan and they sure don’t know how many Iraqis or people in Afghanistan have been killed, injured or are now refugees from those wars. One rarely sees any actual visual coverage of the war except from the targeting sight of an American F-16, about to blow to smithereens some poor peasants, a camel or a herd of sheep and goats. I am not joking about the sheep and goats. I read a report about shepherds in Iraq complaining about American planes blowing up herds of sheep and another from Afghanistan, where a herd of goats were similarly treated. Poor Third World countries don’t have these great mechanized armies like the Germans or Japanese did in World War 2, so the US military must make believe they are striking items of great strategic and tactical significance. Otherwise, some one might get the impression it was a very unequal battle between an F-16, firing guided missiles and bombs, and a very angry man on the ground firing a Kalashnikov rifle. The battle might be so unequal to some people that a question could rise in their mind about who were the actual terrorists. Then, the corporate media steps in and reassures them that the guy firing the rifle is akin to the devil and hates freedom, democracy and all values Americans hold dear, and it suddenly becomes alright to convert him into small pieces of flying protoplasm.
I can’t remember exactly when American television became completely tabloid in nature along with the rest of the corporate media. I suppose Robert Parry, author of Lost History, would say it was when President Ronald Reagan established Project Truth and “perception management” and had the media monitored carefully for any controversial stories, particularly any about all the massacres, atrocities and torture being done by American-trained and financed counterinsurgency forces in El Salvador, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Honduras and other places in the world. As a matter of fact, Raymond Bonner of the New York Times and Alma Guillermoprieto of the Washington Post were criticized vigorously and demoted for telling the truth about the massacre of eight hundred defenseless men, women and children at El Mozote in El Salvador by the Atlacatl battalion-trained at the School of the Americas. This Atlacatl battalion went on to commit many even more atrocious massacres coupled with hideous torture techniques, but El Mozote is most famous because noted American spokesmen like Elliot Abrams and media pundits denied that it ever happened. Years later, when it no longer mattered, the bones were dug up and, sure enough, the bullet holes were in the heads and the machete marks were on the bones of the bodies. It is similar to the mothers of the disappeared in Argentina (often grandmothers) finally getting some justice after years of protest in the Plaza de Mayo in Buenos Aires. Forensic scientists, digging in military body dump sites, discovered their loved ones horrible fate and sometimes by DNA analysis were able to find the children of the murdered mothers. Often, they had been kidnapped by Argentinean police and military officers. These children were actually living with their real parent’s torturers and murderers. Argentina was another stunning success of the US counterinsurgency strategy of unparalleled terror coupled with huge massacres of peasants and university students. Mao said that the guerrilla is like the fish who swims in the sea. The United States itself or through proxy governments massacred a large portion of that sea in many countries and intimidated most of the rest by terror much worse than anything people have seen at Abu Ghraib or Guantanamo Bay.
The first remembrance I had of the tabloid nature of the media was when Tonya Harding hired some guy to smash Nancy Kerrigan’s knee and ruin her career in skating. This may be a minor story, but the corporate media feasted on this story all day long for weeks. Aliens could have landed on Earth, and I still think they would have been talking about Nancy Kerrigan’s wounded knee and all of Tonya Harding’s disreputable associates. It went from there to a continuous series of other stories about celebrities, gossip and inconsequential events and I’m sorry, but I can’t remember them all. The media spent years of time they could have been talking about US involvement in Central America, global warming or a myriad of very important environmental issues on the utter triviality of something one could find in the National Enquirer.
The corporate media has not changed from the 1980s, except to say it has probably gotten even worse. If a country’s media is any indication of a country’s decline, then we are declining and fast. Why would anyone want to hear about Paris Hilton and all her escapades with the law for months? I don’t care if a little, pampered, rich girl gets drunk, arrested for drunk driving and cries when her tender feelings are hurt as the jail door slams on her. Her rich daddy will get her out, which is more than can be said for poor people.
Now, while unemployment is at very high levels, people are losing their homes and health insurance, global warming and all kinds of environmental catastrophes are afflicting the planet and the economic crisis has not been solved by a long shot, President Obama feels that this is the time to have a friendly beer at the White House with an arresting police officer, Dr. Henry Louis Gates, who is black and a friend of President Obama, himself and Joe Biden. There must have been hundreds of cameras filming this event from a distance. It was a major media extravaganza. The precipitating cause, which elicited all this media feeding frenzy, was the police entering into a black man’s home and words being exchanged between the police officer and black man with possibly racist remarks being made. I’ve got news. Ten miles from where I live, white police officers break into black people’s houses on a constant basis and racist words are exchanged very, very frequently. In fact, some police officers have had accusations, and even a court case, brought against them for not only being racists, but of having Nazi literature with them and being sympathetic to fascist white power causes. Poor blacks get beaten up and tasered with electricity constantly. Not one of these poor blacks, who are treated so abysmally, get an invitation to the White House to drink beer. Could it be that because Dr.Gates is extremely well-educated, a Harvard professor, an author of a number of books and is wealthy, giving the maximum amount allowable to Obama’s campaign and one thousand dollars to Hillary Clinton’s campaign, that he is treated so differently than a poor black man? If President Obama is rationalizing this as solving race problems, he is delusional. Nothing will end racism but a decent standard of living for blacks, as well as poor people of all nationalities, and that requires an end to capitalism and exploitation.
Also, I so wish the media would stop paying attention to the ridiculous and incoherent statements of Sarah Palin. She is not the oracle at Delphi. She is a fool!
I called the corporate media asinine as well as trivial and I will explain why. This is no ordinary period in the thousands of years of human existence. No other period in human history is the same. The bubonic plague wiped out a lot of the population of Europe, but it never really threatened extinction of the human race. These parasitic entities called corporations, being motivated only by profit, do threaten the planet. In a film called The Corporation, an FBI agent compared the profile of a psychotic individual with the actions of corporations and they were identical. Now, also, we have nuclear weapons proliferating around the world, due largely to the United States trying to become a hegemonic power. Finally, we have such severe environmental problems that it is difficult to name them all. There is global warming, species extinction, toxic waste, nuclear waste, a shortage of clean drinking water, deforestation, destructive mining practices and even living creatures in the ocean are in trouble, where we would least expect it, as the ocean is so vast. The corporate media are asinine because while human civilization is at stake, our very survival as a species, they spend the majority of their precious time on scandal, gossip, immaterial blather and don’t seem to care if their children and grandchildren live or die or how much they suffer in a future world. It is one of the saddest scenes I have ever witnessed. Lead us off the cliff you narcissistic, greedy, arrogant, ignorant fools!
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