Saturday, November 06, 2004

So Befogged

From an article by Eric Alterman at Center for American Progress:

As Todd Gitlin recently wrote in Mother Jones, "If ever there were a time for unbridled journalism, this would be it: terrorist mayhem, war, corporate scandal, ecological crisis, economic upheaval. Public passion and curiosity have been stoked. But the potential investigators have been, to a considerable degree, otherwise occupied. Historians will someday burrow among the musty artifacts of America's supercharged 24/7 news organizations—TV with its glammed-up sets, its convention skyboxes and satellite feeds; the well-fed correspondents on a first name basis with second-rate sources; the newsmagazines with their gloss, gossip, and fluff—and they will rub their eyes and marvel that a nation possessed of such an enormous industry ostensibly specializing in the gathering and distribution of facts could yet remain so befogged."

As Edward Wasserman recently wrote in the Miami Herald, over the past several months "The established news media were nowhere on public-policy matters. Issues that should have been their meat and potatoes – such as the adequacy of homeland security or remedies to stanch job losses – were largely untouched...Instead, the agenda was set by partisans, via political advertising and committed freelance efforts. Time and again, established media essentially reacted to issues rammed through by outside groups."
Alterman: "More and more, the media invite manipulation by those who understand how to earn coverage but care nothing for evidence or even accuracy. During the past election, entire weeks of news broadcasts and countless pages in newspapers and magazines were wasted on a litany of baseless and irrelevant issues while Iraq burned, the economy remained stagnant, and more and more Americans lost their health care coverage."
More on this in another Alterman article that brilliantly gives facts about what I've been talking about lately - the Republican Media Machine (or Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy, if you must):
"Over the past three decades, conservatives have painstakingly cultivated the public persona of an aggrieved outsider class, bereft of the money and media influence they claim liberals enjoy. Their well-rehearsed routine consists of the repetition of a series of catchphrases designed to snare votes by using wedge social issues to create class divisions, while their own campaigns are funded by a class of wealthy, corporate donors who keep their think tanks flush with lucre."