Friday, February 6, 2015

The Life of Brian

People who are surprised, dismayed, depressed, outraged, etc. about the Brian Williams kerfuffle have either forgotten, or they don't want to admit, that “journalists”, especially at the highest, rarefied levels, are a bunch of fantasists. Not only do they “spin” the news to conform to their agendas, but when that's insufficient they make things up out of whole cloth. And this extends beyond the news per se, to their persona and reputation, as shown by the Williams incident. And it's not even that they're consciously making things up, although that happens as well. On some profound level, they have a radically different concept of “the truth” from the rest of us. For them, truth is not an absolute – not a characteristic of reality -- but a political construct, and it can be infinitely manipulated in order to meet political ends. Another way of putting this is that the truth is whatever they make of it – whatever they declare it to be. And the higher you climb up the media totem pole the more intoxicating power you have to define what is true for millions of your fellow (if inferior) humans. If you can define what is true, you have defined reality, and thus the entire basis for action (or the lack thereof). And the “media”, after all, stand, by definition, between events and the reader/hearer/viewer. If we were all omniscient, we wouldn't need them – but this is not to say that they are omniscient, only that they would like us to believe that they are. They would like us to believe that the only facts that exist in the world are the ones they choose to present – and that nothing else is worth bothering about... that nothing else really exists.

Now, this is is not to say that there is never any factual basis for “news” stories; there may be some facts – some real events – hiding in there somewhere... some tiny kernel of “ground truth”. But that is only the beginning – a mere seed, which can only be brought to full fruition by assiduous spin, interpretation, analysis, coloring, shading, and filling in the missing pieces. Did you ever notice that, as messy as life can be, the “news” is never messy? It's clean, clear, and immediately understandable, with no pesky ambiguities or loose ends. There is a reason for this. Messy facts are thrown into the journalistic mill, and everything that might cause doubts or skepticism is excised... and the parts that are guaranteed to stampede the public into another orgy of dependence and begging directed at the Regime are magnified.

Try this experiment. (I think I've said this before, but it bears repeating.) Take any issue of any daily newspaper, put it away for a year, then take it out and read it again. Notice how many of the stories turned out to be distorted, half-baked, or wildly inaccurate? How many were simply the product of hysteria? How many were just plain false – and intentionally so? Now think about today's paper (or this week's news magazine, or tonight's TV news). The same thing will be discovered a year from now, and so on. So what are we being fed on a daily basis, and by whom, and to what end?

Journalists pride themselves on being “agents of change” -- like public school teachers, librarians, and social workers. They are meek, humble public servants just trying to do their job on behalf of “the people”, and to help foster “an informed public”. Right? No. They are part of the vast propaganda apparatus that the Regime uses to keep us both fearful and reassured at the same time – aroused and soothed... outraged and comforted. And let's admit, it's a delicate balancing act, and guys like Brian Williams got where they are because they are good at it. Every tone of voice, every facial expression, is designed to lift us up on some emotion or other, and then to set us down – gently, but not so gently that we forget to retain some degree of anxiety. This has to do with both content and mode of presentation – the message and the medium, if you will. The story has to be compelling, and you have to have good hair.

The bottom line is to make people so dependent on government that they will react with outrage and hostility if anyone dares to suggest that it might be otherwise. And part of this strategy is to build a dream world – a world of heroes (presidents) and villains (“terrorists”)... of looming threats (measles!) and miracles by which to escape them (vaccines!)... of nasty, ill-smelling, babbling foreigners (Islamists!) and all-American heroes (the military, police, etc.)... of blighted ignorance (pretty much any foreign country except the English-speaking ones and Israel, plus Islam and Catholicism) and wise men (and women) who are dedicated to its eradication (Congress, professors, scientists and, of course, journalists).

But, but – you might say – what about journalism school, the training ground for all these people? Don't they teach ethics and objectivity? And how about logic... questioning... skepticism? Isn't their highest goal to turn out skilled seekers after truth? Well, I don't know. Maybe some do, or at least try to. All I know is when their graduates spread out across the land, and the world, like a plague of locusts, they all seem to have an agenda, and it has less to do with the truth than with arranging things into a preconceived set of ideas – a “vision”, if you will, not of the world as it is but as it ought to be (which is, for some reason, completely secular and almost invariably more collectivized and more totalitarian, with crushing pressures to conform – for the ordinary citizen, that is, as opposed to the ruling elite). Start with a vision of the world, then do everything in your power to make it happen – not a bad idea if you're, say, in a science or engineering field... or even the social sciences... or even theology. But journalists, AKA “reporters”, need to be satisfied with the facts, and if they indulge in analysis this needs to be made crystal clear at the outset. And yet isn't it easier – and more effective – to editorialize non-stop, and make every news report a kind of call to arms against enemies, real or imagined – or if not a call to arms, then its opposite – a call to relax, not worry, shut up, and stop thinking? And don't they delight in pitting various segments of the public against each other, then writing it up as such a terrible, regrettable development? It's all about social control – about the great carrot and the great stick.

“If the salt hath lost its savor, wherewith shall it be salted?” If journalists have ceased to seek after the truth and to pass it on, then who can we rely on? Only ourselves? But what is the scope of any one person's perceptions and daily experience? The failure of journalism leaves us in ignorance and darkness regarding the events of our time – events which can have a life-and-death impact. We can retreat into the immediate – into what's right in front of our noses – and drown our epistemological sorrows in “games and circuses”, or we can seek out one of the few remaining truth tellers (you will know them by the fact that they have been banished from all the establishment media). It's depressing... but it's preferable to being brainwashed (even though those who are seem happier than we).

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