2015

Media

The mainstream media have become a real joke with their many moments of total ridiculousness! Par Example (that’s French, in case anyone is  unfamiliar with that language): A weather forecaster on one of our local channels “sexes” up his rendering of the forecast so much that one day television screens across Virginia are going to explode one after the other from the orgiastic excitement of this fellow! Hey buddy, I want to say, it’s only the weather forecast for Pete’s sake, and not “Fifty Shades of Grey!”

The local channels all follow the same format, the enhanced weather being one part of that boring design. Their news, their advertisements, their hype and their live programs are geared towards the lowest common denominator of the nation. Thus, their standards succeed in lowering rather than elevating the nation’s thinking. Their only redemption is the prime time shows – which are mostly made in Hollywood.

Sometime in the past months, there was a cable news journalist (that’s what they call themselves, though some are not that at all) reporting on how King Abdullah of Jordan had decided to support the “coalition” by bombing ISIS in order to avenge the death of one of his pilots who was caged and then burned alive by these criminals. There, on our screens, is the King, dressed in his full pilot regalia, as the reporter is breathlessly telling us how heroic Abdullah is: “and they are calling him the Warrior King!” What, I thought to myself? Of course, it turned out that the King did Not go flying his fighter plane into ISIS positions as was excitedly insinuated! Some reporters should take a Xanax before going on the air to animatedly report suppositions as facts! Unfortunately this has become very commonplace in our rumor-mongering, scandal-driven and sensationalist TV World!!

Then there is CNN – the Cable Non News channel – that is “Breaking News” every two seconds over nothing of consequence while proclaiming to be the “Most Trusted Name in News!” And, for a brief while, “Morning Joe” heralded itself as the program that Set The Political Agenda in Washington. Seriously? And maybe that’s why present day politics is so screwed up? Because that’s where politicians get their “Facts”? From Fox News, for instance? Oy vey (Yiddish for Alas)!

Really, TV journalists ought to become more serious and honest imparters of real and actual news. They can start by discarding all those pseudo experts, all the corporate, military and lobbying embeds amongst them that are so very obvious to spot and that do not serve to enlighten the public at all. They come across more as self-serving rather than serving the public!

And then, preceding each program that has its own “talking head” to enlighten us – while posing as if he is James Bond in his heyday, and as the women take on a Rosie the Riveter pose – makes me wonder whether they should underplay the reporters and highlight the story? Unfortunately, it is the other way around as they seem to be so infatuated with themselves.

In Beirut, for instance, we always knew which newspapers and journalists were bought and paid for and by which government. In the US some are also paid, but with different currency: “access” to the powerful, invitations to the White House, Embassies, think-tanks and organizations with specific agendas, being feted and regaled in different venues. And, every time some of those in the media step up another rung of the “access” and “in” ladder, they shed a bit more of their honesty and integrity and become more of a tool for the powerful. In our greedy and opportunistic world, we are reminded every day of how anyone can be bought for a price. What a shame! How demeaning!

It also seems that with 24/7 programming, all has been trivialized and frivolous-ized! I don’t understand what the TV personalities are so smug about, though! In a nation of 320 million people, so few actually watch news shows. So who are their main viewers? On cable they are certainly not your Average American. I am convinced that they are mainly as follows:

  1. They all watch each other all day, all night. And no one expressed this better than Jon Stewart who used to mock them, especially when they latched on to a “word” and started parroting that same word across all the channels!
  2. They are watched by every political office across the nation.
  3. They are watched by all the comedians, because that’s where those get their main jokes from!
  4. They are watched by the very few political junkies like me!

I realize that TV is not the medium for Serious Investigative Journalism. I get that! However, instead of speaking Truth to Power, it has become a Propaganda and Special Interests tool that is rife with hypocrisy, superficiality, gossip and sensationalism!

This brings me to Social Media, the Alternative Press, and Bloggers. No matter whether they are Conservative, Progressive, Green or whatever, the sites you choose to go to usually preach to you and their limited particular choir and, by their mere existence, they all invite Scavengers and Miners searching for ideas (Idea Thieves are rampant!) and trends in addition to those who wish to convey specific information that serves their purposes.

Social Media, in particular, has its doors wide open for the government spooks gathering “intelligence;” for advertisers; for entities that wish to disseminate certain data and rumors; for hunters of all sorts looking for “prey” and luring the gullible.

The Alternative Press also has its own particular slant and agenda.  Again though, we have to be discerning. Many sites disseminate hoaxes; support conspiracy theories that are too outlandish even for me, and spread outright lies! Most though, provide intelligent analysis on a wide variety of topics, and their investigative journalists are serious people. If you search well, you can get the real news – not the TV propaganda – that exists out there.

On the other hand, Bloggers are free to do and say as they like, because a blog is essentially an on-line diary, or a personal opinion site with a dash of vanity – and sometimes a generous amount of that! Nevertheless, I have found so many interesting blogs and alternative press sites that I constantly visit. (Check out the list on my Blog page) They have informed me of events, points of view and facts. I have met incredible people there that the mainstream media would never even mention! How so very insulated, pathetic and superfluous of them!

And, let’s be honest here, No One has the Time to read all the blogs and material that is of interest to them. To do so we would need to do nothing but that all day and all night. However, I do understand that there are housebound people due to a variety of issues for whom social media and the Internet are one of their few outlets. To those I say: Good for you, and I’m glad that you have this tool to amuse and distract you. To everyone else, I say: Go Get a Life!!!

Finally, most people who are in media, whether they are journalists or bloggers or denizens of any one of these many mediums, believe that they can somehow influence their audience and contribute to important national and international debates. It is not an original thought at all – though some in the business arrogantly seem to think so – because poets, philosophers, writers and all “media” venues of every historical era throughout time have always sought to do this. Ours might be a different war, another arena, but essentially we tell the same old stories about love, death, life, torture and all else. Our fundamental human sagas haven’t changed throughout time. That is simply because the human being in us has not changed. And until that happens, we will all be repeating and recycling the same history of our selfish, self-centered, stubborn and warring species! Tragic? Yes. Ridiculous? That too!!!!

Meanwhile, maybe watching that sexed up weather forecaster is more amusing and less stressful than watching and listening to the talking heads! No wonder so many people have simply tuned off and out, leaving the nation to the extremists! This is worrisome and scary.

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