One thing we need to get straight… the media is not “failing us”. Failure indicates an honest effort to do something that was somehow prevented from happening by circumstances beyond our control. In the case of the mainstream media in this country and what used to be it’s mandate to inform the people of the true state of affairs that govern their lives, there is no longer any mandate or effort to inform the people of the truth… indeed there is no longer any desire to do so. Indeed again, the SCOTUS has ruled that the news media has every right to lie to its readers/viewers any time they feel it fits their agenda to do so.
Therefore failure can be excluded when contemplating the possible reasons a once noble and respected profession has turned into a nothing more than a bunch of multimillionaire rock star personalities reading scripts written in Wall Street boardrooms and behind locked doors in Washington.
In fact, our media are quite successful given their new low standards, quite good at what they do. Journalism 2.0 is a far different animal than Journalism 1 was and it shares basically none of the qualities it did back in the middle of the last century. I know because I studied Journalism 50 years ago when it was still something you could rely on to give you the straight scoop and an honest answer to an honest question.
This was before a couple of Journalists and a publisher and editor or two at what was then one of the most respected papers in the country played a huge part in bringing down the foul rat’s nest that was the Nixon administration and set the Wall Street agenda back by about 40 years or so.
It was a lesson well learned by the robber barons and especially by those foul remnants of what was probably the most corrupt regime of the 20th century. People like Cheney and Rumsfeld and their ilk… hereafter referred to as “the ilk”… were prime movers in that administration and when it crumbled around their ears, their only thought was to immediately start out again on their quest for total control of America’s government and to make sure they got it right this time. They’ve been hammering away ever since.
The lesson the ilk had learned from the Nixon Debacle was that for a coup to work in a representative republic based on democratic principals, you require half plus one percent of the population to be a certain type of individual. The people making up this demo must be almost universally ignorant and politically ill informed because ignorant and ill informed people are those most easily controlled and who can be most easily manipulated by propaganda to support causes that they lack the means to understand are not in their best interests.
It helps too if they’re not only ignorant, but willfully so… in fact the ideal water carrier for the corporatocracy actually takes great pride in his ignorance and is actually scornful of people who actually take the time to read and are able to do simple sums and figures… especially in regard to things like history and civics and economics and climate. Oh, and they can only accept information if it consists of droning repetitions of right wing talking points over long periods of time and then only in about 10-20 second sound bites and one liners involving more innuendo than fact. Anything more makes their little heads hurt.
They must be super “patriotic”… even though few of them could tell you the actual meaning of the word… to the point of cultism. They have to believe that the American way… no matter what the ilk has decided that IS this week… is not only the right way but the ONLY way approved by God. They believe themselves to be the only “real” Americans and will only listen to those politicians who are able to convince them that they too are “real” Americans, just like them.
And this is almost always an easy task for the ilk, especially if you can toss in the babbling of a few right wing fundamentalist preachers who call themselves “Christians” yet follow paths that not only have nothing to do with the tenets and mores actually taught by Jesus Christ as they have come down to us in the New Testament, but often are at complete odds with them.
All you have to do to be a Christian as far as these folks is a) be ultra right wing and b) SAY you’re a Christian. Never mind actually reading about Christ’s life in the good book and actually conducting your own as Jesus did his. To a right winger these days, the Real Jesus Christ is not what Christianity is all about. In fact, I Sometimes, actually find myself looking for a new “American Christian” version of the Bible to appear any day now in which all of the actual teachings of Christ have been expunged because they don’t fit the agenda today.
To them, the only REAL deity in this country is Bill O’Reilly’s White Male Christian Power Structure which they all aspire to be a part of and anything that challenges that deity in any way is unpatriotic to the point of being treasonous and anyone espousing a different ideal for America than that they themselves hold dear “hates America” and “wants America’s enemies to win”.
The ilk found the core around which they would build this cult of ignorance in the middle and deep south, the old Confederacy. People who, even after a century and a half, still look upon the Civil War as “The War of Northern Aggression” and who harbor every one of the same hatreds and prejudices their forebears from the 19th century did. People who are unable to accept that we’re all in this together and we eitherget together and ride the tiger or the tiger eats us.
They’re easily manipulated by the ilk because the ilk tells them exactly what they want to hear and since this is often the antithesis of anything remotely resembling the truth, they wind up building their entire lives around lies and false premises.
Quite simply, these are the people who can most easily be brainwashed into cheering an inordinate number of executions, celebrate letting uninsured people die, voting to deny disaster relief funds for people (except themselves, of course) who have been impacted by the various “acts of God” that plague all of us, funding for first responders or any of the myriad other failures of common human decency that amaze and dismay those of us with even a spark of humanity left in us.
The ilk couldn’t have accomplished this brainwashing… even with such willing subjects… without the willing complicity of the mainstream media which includes all of the major newspapers, most of the major newswires and most especially the broadcast TV networks and the cable news networks which are where most Americans get their “news” these days. In order to control the people, they needed to control the channels of information To those people, something that couldn’t happen as long as the media remained at least somewhat independent and relatively honest.
So how did they get around journalism’s function as the fourth estate? The same way they get around everything else. The simply bought journalism… just like they do anything or anyone else that might get in their way and refuse to move aside, a prime example of which is the manner in which they bought all three branches of our “checks and balances” government.
Today, they own both political parties, and therefore the government itself, and they also own what used to be the only means the people had of knowing what was really going on behind all those now closed doors and the lead lined sheets that have made a mockery of transparency in government.
They… through their puppets in the government and the media… preach directly to the basest instincts of their willfully ignorant target audience of people who want to be preached to instead of informed. People who are too damned intellectually lazy to add 2+2 and would rather go on believing the ilk when they tell them the answer is 5 than be bothered looking it up for themselves.
Someday… even though it might already be too late to save America… we may reach a point where the other people of Earth can once again be truly enlightened and objective enough to weigh each case of anything on it’s individual merits instead of simply assuming the position that the roaring, bleating, jingoism fueled Wall Street propaganda machine tells them they should assume.
If and when that day comes, I wonder if they’ll look back at whatever might remain of the United States of America… which should surely be a total pariah nation based on tribalism and xenophobia and shunned by the truly civilized world by then… and wonder how a nation so conceived in ideals like Democracy and Liberty and Equality could have devolved so quickly into just another feudalistic system of a few haves enriching themselves from the labors of a multitude of have nots like those that have existed ever since the first man thought of picking up a rock and killing his neighbor with it just so he could take what that man had.
The answer is in large part going to be that the people were betrayed by those whose existence was once based on telling the truth but who succumbed to the same lust for money and power and fame that corrupted every other trusted institution in the country.
When nobody guards the henhouse, the weasels suck the eggs. Doesn’t get much simpler than that.