“A propaganda model focuses on this inequality of wealth and power and its multilevel effects on mass-media interests and choices. It traces the routes by which money and power are able to filter out the news fit to print, marginalize dissent, and allow the government and dominant private interests to get their messages across to the public. The essential ingredients of our propaganda model, or set of news ‘filters,’ fall under the following headings: (1) the size, concentrated ownership, owner wealth, and profit orientation of the dominant mass-media firms; (2) advertising as the primary income source of the mass media; (3) the reliance of the media on information provided by government, business, and ‘experts’ funded and approved by these primary sources and agents of power; (4) ‘flak’ as a means of disciplining the media; and (5) ‘anticommunism’ [or ‘anti-terrorism’] as a national religion and control mechanism. These elements interact with and reinforce one another. The raw material of news must pass through successive filters, leaving only the cleansed residue fit to print. They fix the premises of discourse and interpretation, and the definition of what is newsworthy in the first place, and they explain the basis and operations of what amount to propaganda campaigns.”
— Noam Chomsky and Edward S. Herman, “Manufacturing Consent,” Pantheon Books, 1988.
A barely awake Tattlesnake caught Time’s Ana Marie Cox on Col. Howie Kurtz’s “Reliable Sources” (CNN) on March 9, gassing about the importance of access to politicians and maintaining a career rather than informing the public as the US journalists’ main job. Then there was the now-fired Tucker Carlson grilling Scottish journalist Gerry Peev who printed Obama aide Samantha Powers’ remark that Hillary was ‘monster’ even though Powers asked, right after she said it, that it be off the record. Carlson, as noted in this excellent article by Glenn Greenwald at Salon.com,”Tucker Carlson Unintentionally Reveals The Role of The American Press,” seemed to also believe that the role of an American journalist is to protect their lines of access to the movers and shakers at the expense of letting the public know what they are really like, not that Tucker would qualify as a real journalist in anyone’s mind but his own.
This all smacks of so much EST-driven, psychobabble-laden, Outward Boundish, Bonfire-of-the-Vanities-Masters-of-the-Universe “I’m an asshole and proud of it!” yuppie doodah that it makes your Tattler slightly ill. Who but a yuppie idiot would think their ‘career in journalism’ was more important than the public’s right to know I mean aside from their yuppie publishers, program directors, editors, and other executive suite backwash?
And now we have the media boys (and girls) on the bus unabashedly playing footsie with John McCain because gasp! he talks to them like normal human beings! In return, the media darlings have been covering up, diminishing, or glossing over McCain’s temper tantrums, flip-flops, and blatant lies. Notice that no one called him to task for wholeheartedly accepting the recent endorsement of a Rapture-Ready neocon Christian goofball like John Hagee, while Barack Obama receiving the unwanted nod from religious nutcase Louis Farrakhan was chewed over endlessly.
So, it’s no secret that the US Big Media has a kissy-face love affair with the current Republican candidate for president — they all seem to be fighting to see how far to the bottom of the tank they can sink for their straight-talking war hero, as this wincing exchange between NBC’s Chris Matthews and Brian Williams when President Junior endorsed McCain last week elucidates (h/t to Media Matters). Warning: Swallow your coffee before you read this next part:
WILLIAMS: “You know what I thought was unsaid — they took their position, Chris, we’re seeing the replay — they end up in this spot and the sun is coming is just from the side and there in the shadow is John McCain’s buckled, concave shoulder. It’s a part of his body the suit doesn’t fill out because of his war injuries. Again you wouldn’t spot it unless you knew to look for it. He doesn’t give the same full chested profile as the president standing next to him. Talk about a warrior…”
MATTHEWS: “You know, when he was a prisoner all those years, as you know, in isolation from his fellows, I do believe, uhm, and Machiavelli had this right — it’s not sentimental, it’s factual — the more you give to something, the more you become committed to it. That’s true of marriage and children and everything we’ve committed to in our lives. He committed to his country over there. He made an investment in America, alone in that cell, when he was being tortured and afraid of being put to death at any moment — and turning down a chance to come home.
“Those are non-political facts which I think do work for him. When it gets close this November, which I do believe, and you likely agree, will be a very close contest between him and whoever wins the Democratic fight. And I think people will look at that fact, that here’s a man who has invested deeply, and physically and personally in his country.”
WILLIAMS: “Absolutely. Couldn’t agree more. Of course the son of a Navy Admiral, a product of Annapolis who couldn’t wait to become a Navy aviator…”
“Talk about a warrior…” and “here’s a man who has invested deeply, and physically and personally in his country.” Were they covering a Veterans’ Day Parade or a political endorsement? Why bother with an election in November — why not just coronate King John the Great right now?
Oh, right, those pesky polls that show the serfs still have their reservations about Lord Bomb-Bomb-Bomb-Bomb-Bomb-Iran, with Barack Obama beating him by 12 points and Hillary by 4 — why don’t these disagreeable Little People just shut up and listen to their betters in the Royal Establishment Press Corps, emptying the imperial chamberpot on their heads and calling it manna from heaven?
Of course, there is also this dimension to consider: Brian Williams and Chris Matthews, along with most of McCain’s media contingent, are very well off by the standards of most Americans upper middle-class at worst, and Williams and Tweety are certified multi-millionaires. They like the continued tax cuts for the rich that McCain is promising, and their ardor for the GOP candidate may boil down to just that it’s putting money in their pockets.
Perhaps Kurtz can devote one of his shows to asking Williams, Matthews, Russert, Blitzer and the other ‘journalists’ who are so tough on Democrats why they never ask the hard questions of Republicans such as, “The economy is tanking after eight years of tax cuts for the rich, yet you support making them permanent why? Why should we continue to pursue a tax policy that hasn’t worked?” and “Sen. McCain, you’re a very wealthy man why shouldn’t Americans be suspicious of a presidential candidate who will be adding to his fortune with tax cuts for the rich even though the nation’s in an expensive war you advocate and deeply in debt?” and “Don’t you think the rich should pay their fair share for this war in Iraq you deem so important to the security of the United States?”
Ah, but I forgot; Howard Kurtz is one of those wealthy yuppie ‘journalists’ himself and he didn’t get there by rocking anyone’s boat, nor by asking any of the really hard questions of politicians or his media brethren.
After all, he has to maintain access to the media and political high and mighty to keep his show on the air. It should be more truthfully called, “Reliable Sources with Your Host: Kid Gloves.”