McCain. Wright. Wrong. Obama. Race. Clinton. It’s hard to understand America’s legacy media anymore – or more particularly – their motivation. When a story of deceit and government manipulation gets buried, at the expense of piquing our more prurient interests, there’s something inherently wrong with the fourth estate.
Glenn Greenwald has recently covered two stories that, on the surface, have no commonality. Scratch below the surface layer, though, and there is much to consider.
Yesterday, Greenwald wrote about the amazing, disappearing military analysts. While this story should have been capturing headlines for the past week, it’s been virtually relegated to the legacy media slug file of unimportant (or embarrassing) reports on the symbiotic relationship between the fourth and first estates. Every single one of the complicit news networks have studiously avoided covering the story, for reasons that are fairly clear: they (the network bosses) are really the centerpiece of the story. The airwaves were abused by the Bush administration like a bad dog, yet the narrative dies from benign neglect by those who were used and abused.
Does this sound familiar? It should. You can read stories in your daily paper every day about abused spouses who dropped charges against the one they thought loved them. And then a week later, you can pick up the same paper and read about the abuser being hauled in again after a particularly raucous alcohol-fueled Saturday night.
Greenwald hits the nail on the head:
‘¦The military analyst story is far more about the corruption of our establishment media outlets than it is about Pentagon improprieties (though both are implicated). That’s why protests and demands for information of the kind sent by Rep. Rosa DeLauro are being directed to network executives. As Rep. DeLauro pointed out, these networks served as an outlet for ‘a domestic propaganda program.’ It is hard to imagine an accusation against their integrity and core function more serious than that’¦
Here’s where I depart from Glenn – because yes, yes it is very easy to imagine an accusation against their core function that’s more serious than the military analyst kerfluffle. In that particular instance, they’re merely burying the story. With the Jeremiah Wright story, however, the media is going for the most base, racist angle in a white hot political contest. It’s almost as if the boyz on the buz have decided that they’ve given Barack Obama enough of a free ride, and now it’s time to tear down the strawman that they’ve so carefully constructed over the past six months.
‘¦So it isn’t as though we really have anything else to talk about besides Jeremiah Wright. There are some countries in the world ‘ probably most ‘ which have so many big problems that they could ill-afford to devote much time and energy to a matter of this sort. Thankfully, the United States isn’t one of them. I believe it’s critical that we keep that in mind as we discuss him for the next seven months’¦
Obviously, Glenn is engaging in a bit of snark. But his point is valid, particularly juxtaposed against what arguably should be one of the biggest stories of the 2008 election: the co-opting of the fourth estate by the Republican Party.
Bear in mind: I’m not just talking about Barack Obama’s problem with the Rev. Wright or military analyst stories. I’m talking about the fourth estate ‘taking a BBQ‘ with the McCain campaign. I’m talking about the McCain campaign receiving a total and complete pass on Alzheimer’s moments for the presumptive GOP nominee. I’m talking about the media lovefest with a ‘straight shooter’, and the high school newspaper heather-ish treatment of both Democratic Party candidates. I’m talking about the media portrayal of Hillary Clinton as a shrewish, calculating bitch (not that there’s anything wrong with that, at least in politics), and the clutching of journalistic pearls when Barack Obama is characterized as an elitist, effete snob.
I’m talking about your brain, and how you process the inputs that you receive through the TV tube, and through the ‘tubes’ of the internet. It doesn’t matter who you support. I’m willing to venture that most people who visit ASZ have never taken the time to explore exactly where the candidates land on the issues that are important to any of us. The vast majority of people are working off of gut instinct, rather than bold-faced positions and fact.
We should all be incredibly tired of the extended presidential campaign season. Hell, it started nearly two years ago. It would make sense that all of us who support a particular candidate at least know (or have a rough idea) of where our chosen candidate stands.
It all comes back to Presidential Idol. That’s all that matters. PI pulls in the ratings, and that’s about all that anyone in a position of authority at any of the news networks cares about. Issues? They don’t need no stinkin’ issues, particularly when they have so many irrelevant incidents to spark our collective outrage and/or prurient interest. And the networks then feed into what they know we want: an echo chamber for our preconceived notions and thoughts.
Glenn Greenwald gives us food for thought: a very important report on the propagandizing of the situation in Iraq is buried, while a tabloid-style story of faux outrage takes center stage.
I used to think we could do better. I guess that’s no more than the eternal optimist in me.