Monday, November 05, 2007

There's No News Like Fake News

I love it! It just keeps getting stupider and stupider and stupider! Just when you thought this nightmare of an administration couldn't slip any lower into the realms of unintentional, black comedy, they cheerfully do it again! Last week, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), in a pathetic attempt to put a good face on on a bad situation, decided to hold a news conference in order to answer questions about the wild fires raging on the west coast. Here's the kicker: instead of inviting the news media, they decided that the questions would be posed, not by professional reporters, but by the FEMA employees themselves - guaranteeing an unending barrage of tough, hardball questions:
"How happy are you with FEMA's results?"
Which would be followed by tough, hardball answers:
"Oh, very happy indeed! Thank you so much for your question!"
Is that a laugh riot, or what? I think that it is illustrative of this White House's unprecedented arrogance that they really believed they could get away with something this bold. Come to think of it, why should they not have thought as much? For the last seven years, the corporate news media have been letting these guys get away with bloody murder - literally!

Here's something to ponder: there is, no doubt, reason to pine for the likes of Edward R. Murrow and John Chancellor in this era of Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity. They were men who held up a mirror to America's conscience and reflected to the people - not what they wanted to know - but what they needed to know. The fact that the deregulation of the Reagan years ushered in an era where CBS (Murrow's old network) could be purchased by arms manufacturer, Westinghouse, and NBC (Chancellor's old network) could be obtained by arms manufacturer, General Electric - should give every thinking person pause.

All the reasons why the main stream news media, the fourth estate, has utterly failed in its responsibility to keep the public informed on matters of policy and affairs of state were laid out in depressing detail in Bill Moyers' recent PBS report, "Selling The War" (It's available on DVD. If you haven't seen it, you should). In the run-up to the obscenity we are now committing in Iraq, the very few news organizations that got the story right (read that to mean: Invading Iraq is a monumentally stupid idea) were those that operated outside the Washington beltway, cocktail party mentality - Knight Ridder, for instance. What happened in the months leading up to America's illegal occupation of that country was nothing more than the Washington Press Corps acting as stenographers on the one hand, and cheerleaders on the other.
In the good old days, the news divisions of most radio and television networks, operated outside the dictates of corporate policy. Any owner of a broadcast entity was obliged, by FCC mandate, to keep the people up-to-date with news and information - regardless of whether or not the news department made the company a profit (and in most cases it did not). If an owner was going to have the luxury of making his or her fortune by selling consumer goods over the people's airwaves, making sure that those same people remained informed citizens was the price they had to pay - like it or not.

Those were the days, my friend. We thought they'd never end.
FOX and Friends: News for Idiots
Every once in a while, I'll tape an entire, three hour segment of the morning "news" program, FOX and Friends. It is the modern equivalent of watching the old, 1965 movie, Hold On! starring the deservedly forgotten British pop group, Herman's Hermits: so mind-numbingly awful that it's actually fun to watch! The very fact that this lame assemblage of info-taining, trivial nonsense is the highest rated morning cable program is instructive when trying to get to the bottom of the question as to why the American people are the dumbest, least informed, unenlightened people in the entire western world and why we are - no doubt about it - the laughingstock of the planet.

Its three hosts are totally lacking in any real journalistic credentials. Indeed one of them, an amiable twit named Steve Doocy (whose last name will one day become a verb, I promise you), is a former TV weatherman. He now has the job of commenting daily on important matters of national and international concern - that is, when he's able to find the time to pry himself away from the latest Brittany or Paris scandal du jour. FOX and Friends is embarrassing any way you analyze it. It is nothing more than a propaganda arm of the Republican National Committee. It's message is as simplistic as it is unbalanced:

Conservative: GOOD. Liberal: BAD. Think of it as Mallard Fillmore in real time.
It was not like this in our parent's day. In that bygone, lost era, before the "Triumph of Mediocrity" (as Norman Corwin put it twenty years ago in the subtitle of his well-written book "Trivializing America" ), the greatest generation went to the polls with - at the very least - a remedial knowledge of the issues important to their country. Today we are so susceptible to political propaganda and corporate media influence, the main talking point of the last presidential campaign was John Kerry's innocent gaffe during the primary season: "I voted for the eighty-seven billion before I voted against it". A statement as innocuous as that one would not have made so much as a blip on the political radar screens of 1960 or 1972 or even 1984 for that matter.
Mah! Mah! The ol' plantation sho' has changed!
While the fact that the Washington Journalistic establishment has been showing a little pluck in recent months is somewhat encouraging, it does not take away from the fact that they are responsible for letting this dreadful situation metastasize. Forty years ago, George W. Bush would not have been taken seriously as a potential presidential candidate. He is only where he is today because a lazy and compliant press refused to ask him the tough questions and, instead, wasted their time (and ours) by debating whether or not Al Gore ever said that he had invented the Internet (NOW IT CAN BE TOLD: he never even implied it). And it might further be noted that they have already fouled the political waters by crowning Hillary Clinton as the Democrat's virtual heiress to next summer's nomination - consciously following the GOP's playbook to lull the Dems into nominating the one candidate who will - most certainly - lose in November of 2008. And the tragic fact of the matter is that very few people are able to see through what can only be described as a blatantly obvious political ploy.
It appears, at least from the vantage point of November 2008, that the electorate will, once again, send another corporate whore to the White House one year from today - regardless of who is elected. That very fact alone does not bode well for the future of democracy. If you want to deny the undeniable reality that we are now living in a Corporately Controlled State, consider the fact that, eighteen years after Exxon was fined 2.5 billion dollars for the Valdez accident, they have yet to pay one red cent to the people of Alaska and still refuse to do so! They know that they are not required to obey the laws that you and I are obliged to live by. They know that whoever wins the White House next year - Democratic or Republican - it will continue to be business as usual.
If that very fact does not enrage you, you're probably watching a lot of FOX and Friends - C'mon! Be honest!
Tom Degan
Goshen, NY
"Selling The War"
from Bill Moyers' Journal
"OUT-FOXXED: Rupert Murdoch's War on Journalism"
A Film by Robert Greenwald
For more recent postings on this atrocious, french-fry-eating, latte-swirling, Ted-Kennedy-loving, Karl-Marx-reading site, please kindly proceed to the link below:



Shh! They're working on that.


At 1:26 PM, Blogger Todd said...

I am so sick of the "liberal" bashing propaganda! Oh well, It my do my under in the end, but I just try to ignore the corporate media and focus on those that I think tell the truth/real news, such as DemocracyNow on Free Speech TV.

At 1:32 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Tom,

I have watched Fox "news" only a couple of times and sat in absolute disbelief that anyone could take that crap seriously.

As to whether the current occupant and administration is arrogant or simply stupid to think that they can actually get away with such nonsense, I just can not decide.

It is enough to make a bananna republic look respectible.

At 2:28 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Frustrating isn't it? Just gives me a
desire to drink, whore, and do anything but have to think about what's become of our country. The people made a trap a long time ago in the country of their own heart. They are the snare, the rabbit, and hunter all in one.

At 8:24 PM, Blogger degan said...

Dear Tom,
I love you! Please keep telling it like it is.

At 6:54 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

A number one myth in this country is the 'liberally biased media'. Hmmm, it is applied to nearly every major media outlet (that isn't fox) from the ny-times & npr to cbs & nbc.
Notice the ones with the best reputations like the times are the most insidious - as the bullshit is saved for just special occations.

Please pass the gin...

At 7:02 AM, Blogger Tom Degan said...

Good one, Johnny!
One thing that has always amazed me was the myth of the so-called liberal media. It really gained steam in 1988, during the First Fool's father's campaign against Mike Dukakis. What liberal media is he talking about, I remember saying out loud at the time. When people site people like Chris Matthews and Tim Russert as "media liberals" I just want to laugh! Not to insult the two gents - they're both very good at what they do - BUT LIBERAL??? I'll have a sip of that gin, myself, pardner!
Tom Degan

At 7:04 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh yea, stop watching TV. Its hard for the first few days - but wonderful.
Can anyone give a suggestion as how to say the opposite of 'the truth will set you free'. Like, 'the lack of lies will...'. I need a slogan to accompany this idea.

At 10:16 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well Tom, here's one way to look at it. If the MSM were to suddenly report on how things actually are in this nation, we would be beset with mass suicides by a terrified populace, or there would be rioting in the streets. So in a way they are doing us a favor.

Robert Lightfoot said...
"Frustrating isn't it? Just gives me a desire to drink, whore, and do anything but have to think about what's become of our country."

At 1:18 PM, Blogger Sarah D said...

good post. as a journalist, it is so disheartening to see this kind of behavior in the media. fake news, celebrity gossip, and nancy grace/bill o'reilley/fox is just nauseating.

what happened to ethics? what happened to the journalists of the fifties and sixties and seventies? it's like we're going back to the age of pulitzer and hearst and yellow journalism. obscene and ridiculous.

At 1:22 PM, Blogger Sarah D said...

p.s. i love how even martin luther king, jr. is coming under scrutiny. he was threatened by the u.s. government so many times to be labeled a red communist in order to stop his campaign for peace, equality, and integration. his extramarital affairs were also meant to be publicized in order to bring down the cause. as though other men did no wrong! as though his personal life even mattered compared to his message. i love that coretta scott king continued to fight for equality and was an ally for gay rights. those two are two of my heroes, and lest we forget, Jesus was a communist.

At 9:40 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Tom,

Great column as usual. If you didn't catch Keith Olbermann's Special Comment about torture from 11/05/07 check out this link.

This country would never have sunk to the state we are in if we had more journalists like him.


At 9:49 AM, Blogger Tom Degan said...

I couldn't agree with you more if I tried. If we had more journalists like Keith Olbermann, this country would be as closest to a paradise as is possible. I did indeed see the torture commentary. It was the first thing I did when I woke up this morning. He became the first journalist in the main stream media to say what I've been saying for years. To quote from my first entry on this site from June 2, 2006:

"Prediction: George W. Bush will be remembered in history, primarily, as the first (pray, last) former cief executive to go to federal prison. Sound crazy? Stay tuned."


Tom Degan

At 2:51 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Can we tell Nancy Pelosi to stop playing Lady Beneficent, pretending that she must be ever so genteel, and either put impeachment back on the table, or go home and stay there with her expensive wardrobe and Botox?
Yes, indeed, thank God for Keith Olbermann, and for Dennis Kucinich. They have more moxie in one little finger than Pelosi and Reid have in all of their parts put together. Cheney is trying to start yet another war, Fox is beating the drums for him, and the Cukoos in Congress cant get their heads out of their arses to see or hear it. Fox is nothing but Fake News. The rest of the corporate-owned media are complicit in ignoring much of the real news. You have to go to alternative news sources like Alternet, Huffpost, Common Dreams, Truthout, Buzzflash, Information Clearing House and the Blogs to get the truth. Some of the network news is better, but it is a day late and a dollar short. They could not wait to lead the band to impeach Clinton. Now, we have Cheney promoting torture, lying and double dealing night and day, and agitating to start yet another war, but is there any fervor generated to impeach him? NO! And yet, this man would gut this country to the bone, given half the chance. It reeks!

At 4:37 PM, Blogger Tom Degan said...

I just received a message from someone named "dfinch" regarding this piece. It's priceless:

"You're some kind of sick creep. Photo bomb much. Your so called picture of Fox News is a fake. This anchor has never worked with Fox. Your website is dated Nov 2007 but the ticker going across the states Gov George Wallace kisses a baby. Wallace died in 1998. Who are you kidding?"

My reply:

"Yes, dfinch, the photo is a fake. It's called "satire". It's a joke. Aren't you smart enough to get it?. The premise is: What if FOX Noise had been around in the days of Martin Luther King and the Civil Rights struggle. You obviously are not bright enough to understand the satirical implications of it. Are you even dimly aware (KEYWORD: DIM) how foolish you made yourself look with your silly comment? Seriously."

Life is beautiful.


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