I was making a guest appearance on a radio show trying to promote my new book From Complicity to Contempt the other day, when a listener called the show and insisted that Russia was the aggressor in the Russo-Georgian War of last year. I had written an article after the brief flare-up https://dandelionsalad.wordpress.com/2008/08/17/commonsense-and-the-russo-georgian-war-by-timothy-v-gatto/ and to this day it was Georgia that started things there by launching an artillery barrage on the South Ossetia capitol. The listener believed that Russia had wanted the war and that Georgia was the “victim” of Russian aggression.
I was taken aback when I listened to what the man had to say. I had thought that by now, most people understood the truth about this event. So many international journalists had witnessed the shelling of Tskhinvali (the South Ossetia capitol). I had actually believed that the argument about which nation started the war was settled. I was wrong, and I should have understood that there is a difference between the truth and what passes for “news” in the mainstream media of today. In fact, this listener and I argued about a broad range of subjects until I realized that it was impossible to reason with the man. Apparently, like so many other Americans, he had been over-exposed to the propaganda and distortions that come from such people like Sean Hannity, Glen Beck and Rush Limbaugh.
What I started to realize from this conversation, was that the truth is elusive, especially when people are not actively seeking the truth, when they rely on right-wing (and in some cases left-wing) pundits to interpret the news for them. Since this is now the 21st century, you would consider that the networks would try to ascertain whether or not their pundits and news analysts were telling the truth. Unfortunately however, it is not the truth that the networks care about; it is the ratings that these people give to the networks that are of prime importance.
The host of the show asked me what we can do about changing the way Americans receive their news. I don’t believe that changing the way Americans receive their news will help, we must first start with the way Americans think. Until the majority of Americans realize that neither of the corporate-owned political parties will enact laws that will benefit ordinary Americans over the big corporate lobbies, there will be no reason to change the current status quo. As long as the two political parties can keep up the image that there is a difference between them and can keep the voters convinced that they have different agendas, in order to keep the people divided, why stop now? Both parties can follow their corporate agendas as long as the people are fighting with each other over issues that are planted in order to keep them apart.
Some of these “hot-button” agendas are gay marriage, abortion, health care and immigration. The first two issues should not even be federal issues, but state issues. Health care and Immigration affect every one of us and should in fact be federal issues. The sad story of health care reform is that there are way too many lobbyists that have IOU’s out on the current administration for their help in insuring a Democratic victory last November. Until the Obama Administration decides that they want to work in the people’s interests, not the pharmaceutical companies or the insurance companies interests, reforming health care is just a wishful dream. The amazing part is that the Republicans actually come out in their town hall meetings and ask people if they want government bureaucrats deciding if they will pay for their health care! Would they rather have insurance company lackey’s decide who will be treated?
People need to be suspicious of all that they hear from any news source. The major networks are biased towards corporate interests that keep them in ad revenue. Right-wing media outlets spout right wing propaganda; left-wing media spouts left-wing propaganda. What matters is the truth. People have sophisticated tools that were not available ten years before. In order to find the truth, people must be ingenious enough to ascertain whether or not the truth is being told by using search engines that will put on exhibit everything about a particular subject or person.
The sad truth is that the media has always lied to the people. On rare occasions they actually broadcast the truth when it appears the truth will come out anyway. That isn’t enough to trust the news media. This health care debacle is one case in point. Exactly what real information have they reported? Instead of particulars we get each side’s talking points. That’s not news, it’s entertainment.
Let me end this by repeating this; Georgia started hostilities against South Ossetia and started the war. If you don’t believe me, put the Russo-Georgia War into a search engine. I don’t make this stuff up.
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