The Dumber (more violent) We Get The Richer The Rich Become
What follows connects the dots between a recent interview with Jerry Mander, activist and author of The Four Arguments for the Elimination of Television, today’s assassination attempt and a discussion on how politics have changed with Senior California Senator John Vasconcellos.
OK… Here we go.
Democratic Congresswoman Shot in Assassination Attempt
"The shooting, having taken place at a public rally, appears to have been politically motivated. Quoting from the report: "Giffords herself has drawn the ire of the right, especially for her support of the healthcare bill from politicians like Sarah Palin." And "Her Tucson office was vandalized a few hours after the House vote to approve the healthcare law in March, with someone either kicking or shooting out a glass door and window."
This is not a coincidence or random act. It was predictable. Hate-radio has been building ever since Regan and Clinton deregulated the public air waves – unleashing the most sophisticated, well funded, researched, centrally controlled propaganda machine the world has ever seen and you are the target. Money and control is the goal, not fair and balanced information and a well informed democracy. Far from it!
We are so gullible, superficial, but with so much misinformation so skillfully staged it is challenging not to be. Yet another study has been released that proves that watching Fox News is detrimental to your intelligence. World Public Opinion, a project managed by the Program on International Policy Attitudes at the University of Maryland, conducted a survey of American voters that shows that Fox News viewers are significantly more misinformed than consumers of news from other sources. What’s more, the study shows that greater exposure to Fox News increases misinformation. Interesting, the stupider we get the richer the rich become.
How many actually believe that the twin towers collapsed because of jet fuel? And, of course, mysterious building seven just fell over on its own. A recent documentary on the assassination of JFK showed audio forensic evidence of at least six bullets, not only in the president’s head but the window, the hood, nearby grass and curbs. The official Warren commission report was one crazy guy, three shots. Where did the other holes come from?
I’m a documentary film maker and have studied public media for more than forty years. I can spot a trick when I see one and there are plenty to choose from. Media is 'show business.' Images shape our world, what we think, believe and all this morphs into our identity. Once we ‘believe’ we defend it as though our life depended upon it.
Sarah Palin arrived center stage from nowhere. John McCain propped her up in a tight red dress. Media mogul Rupert Murdock pays the bill, insuring she gets all the air-time she wants, grooming not a seasoned, wise, intelligent states-woman, rather a reality TV celebrity for president.
And the current President? Transparent? Recent evidence points to him, his father and mother working for the CIA. Obama’s part is well cast. Disappointing I know but not nearly as disappointing as Obama’s betrayals during his first two years in office.
With the pulse of the work beating a Future Shock rates it is difficult to step back from the daily frenzy of sensational information and catch a bird’s eye view of what is really happening. I call this a meta-view, seeing the big picture which recasts the daily shock-and–awe events in a different perspective. Alex Jones in his well documented program The Obama Deception does this. It was sobering when released shortely after his election and even more today. Now, back to our story.
Reagan (followed by Clinton) tossed out the Fairness Doctrine back in 1981. The Fairness Doctrine was the original source of Fox’s logo, fair and balanced, Orwellian double speak. After studying what made Nazi Germany’s propaganda machine so effective, the Fairness Doctrine was put into place to prevent the same plunder from taking place in the Good Old USA.
For the best overview of how corporate-crony-media is spawning misinformation see Robert F. Kennedy Jr.
If a station broadcast one point of view, it had to be fair and balanced and offer equal time to the other. Regan tossed it out to court Christian Fundamentalists. Rush Limbaugh fired up his blasphemy the same year and like the sorcerer’s apprentices spawned others to follow. Today there are thousands of talk radio stations, and TV too, all more or less coordinated, belching out the same scripts as if their opinions were torn out of the gospels. Very entertaining, like Sunday night football 24/7. Rage and violence sells. Quiet, well informed mindfulness is boring.
Knowing this, Joseph Goebbels, Hitler’s minister of propaganda (what we now call public relations) called it the big lie. It did not matter how outrageous, tell it often enough, long enough and people will claim it as the truth. Pass me another beer.
I traveled to San Francisco recently to have a chat with Jerry Mander, activist, author of many books including his first, The Four Arguments for the Elimination of Television. As the mid-term election – media circus - roared into full swing, I remembered that Jerry made a number of predictions in that, the best ever discourse on public media, what media does, who does it - to whom and why. Media would determine the kind of government we have! That was back in 1970.
I had some trouble finding Jerry’s office. You see, two weeks earlier Glenn Beck ranted that the non-profit organizations, mostly environmentalists, nestled in the Thoreau Center in San Francisco were secretly plotting to overthrow the American way of life. Beck was outraged that no one had done anything about it. A proud listener took up challenge. He packed his car with guns, explosives and ammunition and came pretty close to blowing the joint up. The media-crazed gunman was caught. Today’s twin killed several people including a nine year old girl and a judge.
Jerry and I talked about many things, reviewed the list of predictions made in The Four Arguments, on the predatory nature of corporations and the plunder of native habitat and values, about globalization, the current climate treaties, ending again with media. Jerry offered that he wrote his first book as a wake-up call, seeing firsthand the power propaganda has in the hands of corporate predators.
We are living in the belly of the beast, he said. We are swimming in sea of scripted, highly edited, censored, corporate, politically motivated, sleight-of-hand misleading information and we don’t even know it. That is what gives the beast its power. When leaving Jerry offered that he might turn his attention back to media. I hope he does.
Walking out I mused about the conversation. There were no great epiphanies, no parting of the heavens with insights. Then I smiled. Who the hell is Glenn Beck? A common circus barker on the tellie, another paid entertainer, like Reagan was most of his life, with a steady rank and file of patriotic devotees ready to murder a bunch of no good environmentalists because he says so – just like today's assassin! That was some weeks ago. I rest my case.
Last week I interviewed John Vasconcellos, thirty five plus year senator from the Silicon Valley, and arguably the most humanistic politician on the Hill. Again, after a lengthy conversation about his career, great victories and defeats, John focused on how politics had changed during the last quarter of a century, the same period the conservative propaganda machine had been expanding.
Years ago, John said, it did not matter which side of the isle you sat, Republican or Democrat, there was a challenge, we each viewed it from different perspectives and we solved it, each compromising a little, reaching consensus that was in the best interest of everyone, the people. Today, he said, politics is about identity, not issues. Today politicians identify with an ideology. They are that and defend their self-interest identity as if their life (not to mention their pocket book) depended on it.
Today images matter, not issues. As Mander predicted, media is shaping the kind of government and therefore civil life we have. As you can see from today’s assassination attempt and senseless murders, his crystal ball back in 1970 was pretty clear.
Media, television, public relations, are all image based. Glenn Beck is an image and he plays his part well. Mander and I wondered if Beck actually believes what that image is paid to play every day. We will never know. Walter Cronkite was an actor, but that was before the politically motivated opinions of talk-media changed the stage forever.
Today we can’t really be sure if what we think is based on journalism or talk (paid propaganda). Tens of thousands of viewers believed Marcus Welby, M.D., starring Robert Young, was a doctor and sent him health related questions every day.
It’s the big lie. Say it often enough, long enough and people will believe that Oswald, a paid FBI informant framed by the CIA, acting all by himself shot Kennedy. Yes, Dorothy, Glenn Beck is a wizard, and we are living in the belly of the beast but are too dull, by design, to do much about it. Or are we?
Marc Ash, founder and director of Reader Supported News, as well as Truthout.