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Is media reform a pipe dream?
January 2, 2004 1:23 AM   Subscribe

Is media reform a pipe dream? Schechter: "One email I received recently asked: "What do we do when our TV and newspapers tell us lies but insist we should regard this information as truth? What do we do when the vast majority of people in our society accepts these lies as truths and ridicule us when we call these statements lies?""
posted by skallas (48 comments total)

 
1. The FPP assumes that "media" needs to be "reformed." I disagree. First, WHICH "media" needs to be "reformed" and in what manner? Second, of course, is the "who decides" question.

2. What "lies" are the "vast majority" of people accepting as truths? Perhaps the "Survivor" contestant who lied about his dead grandmother? Or the "lie" that Kurds captured Hussein months ago, and only now handed him over to the U.S. forces? Quite a bit of difference between the two examples...

I read the article, and there were woefully few specifics. Plenty of grammatical mistakes, though, which is sort of ironic.
posted by davidmsc at 1:36 AM on January 2, 2004


I blame it all on religion. After all, if you get people believing bullshit when they are young, they will believe bullshit the rest of their lives.
posted by mischief at 1:57 AM on January 2, 2004


You know I bet there was never actually a mouse that pulled a thorn out of a lions paw.
posted by Satapher at 2:06 AM on January 2, 2004


there was. davidmsc happened by killed killed him.
posted by quonsar at 2:16 AM on January 2, 2004


dead dead.
posted by quonsar at 2:17 AM on January 2, 2004


There were members of Congress, top journalists like Bill Moyers...

I don't mean to nitpick, but.... Bill Moyers is as much a 'journalists' as Rush Limbaugh. Moyers is most definitely in the 'activist/commentator' category.

Other than that, I can't add more that davidmsc's 1st point.
posted by Steve_at_Linnwood at 2:18 AM on January 2, 2004


1. Yes.
2. Up against the wall, motherfuckers.
3. See 2.

No really. All hope may be lost. It's been nothing more than a sick, cruel joke to suggest that American politics hasn't been colonized by greedy corporatist scum for decades now, but since so much of your media has been bought out, consolidated, chemically castrated and hooked up to the money feed too, it's become just a matter of counting the ticks as it all falls apart.

But wait! What's that rocketing over the horizon? Could it be...? Is it the Man of Steel come to save us?



Nope. America's fucked, and the rest of us with it.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 2:20 AM on January 2, 2004


stav, my man, you know as well as i do that in the event of american economic collapse, millions of grateful iranian quake victims will step up to the plate and provide aid and relief to this great nation. not to mention the joyously liberated iraqis. and hell, israel would give us the shirts off their backs. we cool, bro.
posted by quonsar at 2:30 AM on January 2, 2004


so, i mean, we should work for it, ya know? i'm doing my part by experiencing my own personal economic meltdown!
posted by quonsar at 2:32 AM on January 2, 2004


q : Oh, to damnation with the poor, don't you agree, old chap? They're just lazy!

Also : here're a few semirandom links to throw some nice indirect lighting on skallas's lazy-ass post.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 2:36 AM on January 2, 2004


www.fuckedmedia.com
posted by nofundy at 4:51 AM on January 2, 2004


"What "lies" are the "vast majority" of people accepting as truths? " (davidmsc) - Well, let me answer your question by way of another : "What role did the US media play in the creation of the belief, on the part of a majority of Americans (or close to it), that Saddam Hussein has been linked to the September 11th 2001 terrorist attacks? Was it the responsibility of US media to air refutations of Bush Administration claims of Al-Qaeda links to Hussein's regime, given that evidence of such links is tenuous at best?

If the US media serves to amplify government statements which are largely or completely false, and which serve an obvious underlying government agenda (creating a widespread belief in a Saddam-9-11 link to increase public support for an invasion of Iraq), why can't such media be justly accused of serving as propaganda organs for the government?"


I hope this makes the underlying issue a bit clearer for you.
posted by troutfishing at 7:12 AM on January 2, 2004


I agree that skallas' MediaChannel.org story fails to provide much evidence of it's claims, and so serves as a sermon to the already converted. But such evidence is not that hard to come by.

Yes, the article lacks specifics and has grammatical errors. But I find hard to believe that the above example I just cited - which should be rather glaringly embarrassing for any in the US media establishment who have not completely abandoned their sense of journalistic ethics - has so quickly sloughed off the memory boards of media junkies such as regular commentators on Metafilter.
posted by troutfishing at 7:27 AM on January 2, 2004


Newsflash: I have long thought that there is a connection of sorts between Al-Qaeda, Iraq/Hussein, and other "shadowy" terrorist organizations. My belief has not been created by the "media" or official pronouncement of the U.S. government. Just because the "media" reports that people believe that there may be a link, does not mean that the "media" created said link. Nor does it even say that the people who believe such are correct.
posted by davidmsc at 7:39 AM on January 2, 2004


Steve_at_Linnwood, please don't put Moyers in with the Limbaugh crowd. When was the last time Rush traveled the country interviewing people, researching a story, and then presenting a boatload of facts? Moyers is a liberal, but his reporting is solid and factually correct, Limbaugh is a sleazy right wing nut gasbag without an ounce of integrity and no journalistic skills what so ever, he's a pop star at best.
posted by jbou at 8:30 AM on January 2, 2004


Look, when you get more even handed coverage of a news event from a fake news show on a comedy network then you can from any other TV news source, you know the whole system is fucked.
posted by CrazyJub at 8:59 AM on January 2, 2004


The Big Ten media conglomerates
The Vast Left Wing Conspiracy


please don't put Moyers in with the Limbaugh crowd...
Limbaugh is a sleazy right wing nut gasbag without an ounce of integrity and no journalistic skills what so ever, he's a pop star at best


well, pop stars usually manage not to be as hypocritical in their drug habits
and they seldom use their maids to raise drug money

but I agree that having been a drug addict is not politically relevant anymore, you can become President anyway. as long as you're Republican, of course. Rush will discover Jesus as his personal savior and everything will be just fine, back to the old zero-tolerance thing against those evil, terrorist drug users


posted by matteo at 9:17 AM on January 2, 2004


My belief has not been created by the "media" or official pronouncement of the U.S. government.

Are you suggesting that such a belief should be viewed as more credible because it is based upon personal paranoia rather than media ratingsmongering? Or is there actually some more specific evidence for such a contention?
posted by rushmc at 9:38 AM on January 2, 2004


davidmsc - YOU may have long believed in a Saddam Hussein link to terrorist groups, but the Saddam-Al Qaeda-September 11 link wasn't always embedded in the American public mind. It was placed there, quite consciously so, by the Bush Administration - and based on precious little evidence, though they scraped and scraped for any and all evidence they could possibly muster to substantiate that alleged connection.

And the US media served to quite efficiently broadcast this Bush Administration meme - "Saddam linked to 9-11 !" without much challenge to it's legitimacy as a claim.

So it was that the improbable switch, the substitution of Saddam Hussein - as a major villain in the 9-11 attacks - in place of Osama Bin Laden was accomplished. The US media, really, did most of the work.
posted by troutfishing at 9:58 AM on January 2, 2004


"What role did the US media play in the creation of the belief, on the part of a majority of Americans (or close to it), that Saddam Hussein has been linked to the September 11th 2001 terrorist attacks?

I really do not wish to re-argue this point over and over again as it was in the last year... But:

While there has been no out and out proof that Saddam had anything to do with 9/11, there has been more than ample evidence to show that there was at some level communication/cooperation between the Bat'thists and al Qaeda. (I will not site it here, because, again, I do not wish to re-argue this point over and over.)

Also, I ask you to point out a specific example of when the media has created the notion that Saddam (specifically) had a role in the September 11th attacks with out citing a legitimate storY (example: The Czech Government's claim that Atta met with Iraqi Intelligence in Prague) I other words, please give me an example when the media made up or "spun" a story to create the idea of a connect between Iraq and 9/11.

the Saddam-Al Qaeda-September 11 link wasn't always embedded in the American public mind. It was placed there, quite consciously so...

I believe that your premise that "The American Public will only believe something if they are 'brainwashed' in mass by the media." is false. You put forth the notion that a large percentage of the population can not hold a believe unless they are told to do so by the media, and in this case by the current administration. I can give you two example of opinions that large percent of Americans hold, but you will rarely find in the media:

A NPR poll found that 56% of American "oppose gay marriage". "Anti-Gay Marriage" opinion is hardly something you will find on the nightly news, or in TV sitcoms, or elsewhere in the media, so how is it that a large majority of Americans oppose it?

Also, a LA Times Poll recently found that 57% of Americans "favor a specific abortion procedure ... known as a partial-birth abortion" being legal. Again, this is an opinion that you rarely see presented in a positive light, if at all, in the media. So how could a large majority of Americans have the opinion they do?

The point of my example is not to debate the two controversial topics I used to illustrate my point (Please God, No!) but to make my point that the public often will hold viewpoints counter to what the media puts out. A Pew Research Center poll from June '02 finds that 56% of Americans belive that "News Organizations usually report inaccurately" Again, I doubt that this is a notion put into the minds of the American Public by the media.
posted by Steve_at_Linnwood at 10:44 AM on January 2, 2004


Good argument, Steve.
I don't think the Administration needed too much media cooperation to sell the "implied Saddam-AlQueda link" meme to much of the American people. In fact, a more skeptical approach to it might have worked in Bush's favor, considering the already common "Media Mistrust".

Different media outlets have different biases, and as far as direct audience is concerned, FoxNews still loses to HBO.

Now, one issue on which all the media giants seem to agree upon (and which don't really need popular support for, just popular apathy) is corporate-friendly and individual-unfriendly Copyright Law. For me, that issue by itself is enough to justify keeping big media companies with both hands tied behind their backs.
posted by wendell at 11:26 AM on January 2, 2004


"please give me an example when the media made up or "spun" a story to create the idea of a connect between Iraq and 9/11." - Steve, that's not what I said. I said that the media relayed/broadcast disingenuous messages put out by the Bush Administration, without challenging the veracity of those messages - in spite of the fact that evidence for such links was thin to nonexistent.

"I believe that your premise that "The American Public will only believe something if they are 'brainwashed' in mass by the media." is false." - Well in the first place, I didn't advance that premise.

As for the alleged meeting between Mohammed Atta with Iraqi Intelligence, the FBI has discounted the story based on considerable evidence that Atta never left the US during that time period. "The alleged meeting in Prague between hijacker Mohamed Atta and Iraqi Ahmed Khalil Ibrahim Samir al-Ani was the single thread the administration has pointed to that might tie Iraq to the attacks. But as the Czech government distanced itself from its initial assertion and American investigators determined Atta was probably in the United States at the time of the meeting, other administration officials dropped the incident from their public statements about Iraq. " (Iraq, 9-11 still linked by Cheney, from The Washington Post, September 29th 2003 )
posted by troutfishing at 11:37 AM on January 2, 2004


I have almost always questioned the validity and authenticity of the mainstream media - for almost as long as I have memories. But the older I get the more I realize that the talking heads are usually just that; Pretty faces wrapped around empty heads. (There are notable exceptions, to be sure.)

Besides the fact that companies like General Electric - which is greatly interested in selling defense tools and weapons technologies to the US government and others - own major broadcast networks like NBC, news reporters are frequently just plain dumb. As in they couldn't see the forest for the fscking trees. As in "You stupid idiot! I can't believe you just said that! What the hell is wrong with you? You are an epsilon semi-moron, aren't you?!"

Case in point here in Los Angeles - shush, you* - during the wildfires and solar flares we had a month ago I watched in disbelief as a news anchor stated - multiple times - something along the lines of "Well, the solar flares certainly aren't helping these fires and all the smoke coming from them."

I swear to Cthulu I almost died choking on my Wheaties that morning.

*Los Angeles isn't entirely filled with vacuous chuckleheads, believe it or not. Remember, we have JPL, CalTech, the Harvey Mudd/5C colleges, and more. We probably have more hardcore geeks here than SF and MIT combined, we just lose on the per capita counts. ;)
posted by loquacious at 11:52 AM on January 2, 2004


the media relayed/broadcast disingenuous messages put out by the Bush Administration, without challenging the veracity of those messages

There are two parts to this statement, and I disagree with both of the parts:

1. "disingenuous messages put out by the Bush Administration"

At no time has the Bush Administration said that there was proof of a connection between Iraq and al Qaeda. In fact, much like the "imminent threat" case, the opposite has been true. While people have attempted to spin saying that Bush said that Iraq was an "imminent threat" and that Bush said that Saddam had a connection to 9/11, on multiple occasions, Bush has strongly stated that there is no known connection between Baghdad and Ossama, as well that Iraq was not a "imminent threat" (but that we could not wait for it to become one).

Others have made the case that Saddam's Iraq had something to do with 9/11, but Stephen F. Hayes of The Weekly Standard while a supporter of Bush, can hardly speak on behalf of the administration.

2. "without challenging the veracity of those messages"

The article from the Washington Post, a major media outlet if there ever was one, that you linked to disproves this point out right. And there are many, many more example that one could give if they had the time and subscription to LexisNexis.


Well in the first place, I didn't advance that premise.

I apologize if I misinterpreted you. But the 'media brainwashing' theory is the argument I have heard most often coming from your side of this debate regarding public opinion, and the data just doesn't back it up.
posted by Steve_at_Linnwood at 12:34 PM on January 2, 2004


Steve - One news story doesn't disprove my point. Americans watch TV far more than they read. This substitution of Saddam Hussein for Osama Bin Laden happened mostly through television.

I'd like to challenge your claims about what the Bush Administration said about Iraq and Al Qaeda.

(9/26/2002) "President Bush asserted a link yesterday between Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein and the al Qaeda terrorist network, saying he fears they will join forces and are already virtually indistinguishable.

"The danger is, is that they work in concert," Bush said. "The danger is, is that al Qaeda becomes an extension of Saddam's madness and his hatred and his capacity to extend weapons of mass destruction around the world."

The administration had begun deemphasizing claims of links between Hussein and global terrorism. Senior intelligence officials told The Washington Post this month that the CIA had not found convincing proof, despite efforts that included surveillance photos and communications intercepts.

U.S. officials have continued to hint at connections, however"
(Washington Post, September 26, 2002)

Here's another article covering this, from June 23rd, 2003 The United States President, George Bush, faces a new row with the emergence of the intelligence report on which he based his pre-war claims about Iraq's links with al-Qaeda.

But it's much harder to link to archival TV footage. Alas.

Meanwhile, the Bush Administration is still at this game : "In recent weeks, a number of Bush administration officials have renewed efforts to build a rhetorical linkage between Ansar al-Islam, an Al Qaeda-backed terrorist group operating in Iraq, and Saddam Hussein. Despite the slim evidence of any operational connection between the two, these officials have continued to use strategically ambiguous language to imply a connection"
posted by troutfishing at 2:18 PM on January 2, 2004


Bill Moyers is as much a 'journalists' as Rush Limbaugh.

Does reality ever factor in to the labels you apply to people or is this some kind of partisan blindness?
posted by john at 4:59 PM on January 2, 2004


Steve,

let's not even consider all those unfortunate times when, ahem, mr Cheney "misspoke" ("On "Meet the Press" last Sunday, Cheney claimed that the White House has "learned more and more that there was a relationship" between Iraq and Al Qaeda, the terrorist network responsible for the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. One of his pieces of "evidence" was the old report of a meeting in Prague in early 2001 between Mohamed Atta, one of the Sept. 11 airplane hijackers, and what Cheney described as "a senior Iraqi intelligence official."). and by the way I can believe why Tim Russert is Bernie Goldberg's favorite liberal-media-man. "misspoke". heh.
anyway, the Bush administration has been let's say "misspeaking" a lot re Saddam (remember all the Cheney/Condi Rice talk about nuclear mushrooms, Colin Powell's hilarious aluminum tubes, etc -- or do you want me to give links?)
so, it's a sad fact that people -- since they have more important things to do, like bust their asses at work, take care of their kids, feed/clothe said kids, etc -- don't really have the time you and trout and I and all the other MeFi users have to follow the news, read the papers (how many Americans buy and read more than one daily, do you have some numbers on that?), etc.
but you can't seriously expect people to discount the sad, very real fact, that in all the post-9/11 talk about terrorism, and all the attention given to Iraq and Saddam the bad guy, a very real and effective kind of linkage between Saddam and 9-11 was effectively made, by sheer repetition.

even your distinction about alleged contacts between "Baathists" (who exactly) and Al Qaeda does noit really cut the mustard. Saddam followers hated America? Of course. They were happy to see the Towers fall down on the firemen's heads? Of course. But how in the world does that fact make them part of the 9-11 plot?
there's a lot of hate against the US all over the Third World, deal with it. Iraqi's hate for the US does not make them part of the plot. and you can "misspoke" all you want, but that climate of fear (and the media, tv especially, is oh-so-good at scaring people shitless, check out the Orange Alert Paranoia)
The Bush administration misspoke a lot, and cried wolf a lot. 70% of your fellow Americans believe that what is now a baseless hypothesis is a real fact:

Saddam = Osama.

They did not imagine that bullshit, Steve. They had their Two-Years-Of-Hate, seeing Goldstein, er, sorry, first Osama and then Saddam all over the news. War On Terror. 9-11. Saddam. 9-11. Osama. Terror. Saddam.

Context is everything, Steve. TV -- and the mass media in nowadays society -- is the perfect tool to de-contextualize things and ideas. You don't need to be a French gay philosopher -- God forbid -- to figure that out.

I think you've read this nice Breslin column:
Each person you spoke to, and they were from all over the country, were pleased that the new trade center would be the world's tallest building. Also, they were supremely happy because Saddam Hussein had had something to do with blowing up the Twin Towers.
Here was a woman in the cold, Linda Jacobs, standing with her husband, Ken, from Newport News, Va., and saying, "He probably did. Who knows. But he probably did."
Her husband said, "Oh. yeah. He was in on it."
A couple from Knoxville, Tenn., Elaine and Will, agreed. "I believe he was in on it on some level," she said. "He was around there someplace," the husband said. Betty Hipp, San Antonio. "Of course Saddam was responsible."
I was out there for some time, taking notes and hometowns, and it was all the same. Saddam is bin Laden.
To thaw out, I went into the Burger King on the corner of Liberty and Church, where Mary Garcia, 53, was behind the counter and looking out the big window and right at the trade center and the people there to look at it.
"For me Hussein did it, the other guy, too. These people both is together in Iraq and in the trade center," Garcia said. "If Saddam don't do nothing, why he go into a hole? Because he is afraid we catch him for the World Trade Center that he did with bin Laden? The both of them together."
She said she has a son in Iraq, Sgt. Peter Garcia.

...
It is a rule of mine not to use man on the street interviews, but this was so unanimous and forceful that I had to listen.
...



and also you write that:

(...) found that 56% of American "oppose gay marriage" (...)
... so how is it that a large majority of Americans oppose it?

if 56 % is a "large majority" in your mind, I think you consider 5/4 a landslide. but then again, you probably do
;)
posted by matteo at 5:44 PM on January 2, 2004


Considering that our last TWO presidents were elected with less than 50% of the popular vote, 56% is a relatively large majority these days.

I can't believe I'm defending the Linnwood Liberal...

Steve, I'll e-mail you a bill. ;) =) :P
posted by wendell at 9:31 PM on January 2, 2004


But the 'media brainwashing' theory is the argument I have heard most often coming from your side of this debate regarding public opinion, and the data just doesn't back it up.

Hence the fact that you're brainwashed!

I love tautologies.

Seriously though, this extreme, irrational polarization is about to blow. We will see what happens very shortly. I think I'm prepared. Gulp.
posted by crasspastor at 9:47 PM on January 2, 2004


gobble gobble gobble
posted by Satapher at 12:26 AM on January 3, 2004


Seriously though, this extreme, irrational polarization is about to blow.

What leads you to think so?
posted by rushmc at 8:36 AM on January 3, 2004


On March 1st 2004, the Blob will land and absorb us all into it's peaceful, conflict-free protoplasmic goo.
posted by troutfishing at 9:48 AM on January 3, 2004


On March 1st 2004, the Blob will land and absorb us all into it's peaceful, conflict-free protoplasmic goo.


Don’t blame me, I voted for Kudos.
posted by Steve_at_Linnwood at 9:56 AM on January 3, 2004


Kudos - Isn't that some kind of candy bar?
posted by troutfishing at 10:14 AM on January 3, 2004


This is very applicable--from Harpers: The Revision Thing--A history of the Iraq war, told entirely in lies. All text is verbatim from senior Bush Administration officials and advisers.

Every single statement in that article was broadcast to us, over and over...it's really enough to make your head spin, except it wasn't about a bill in Congress, but lives, and power.
posted by amberglow at 10:30 AM on January 3, 2004


Sorry, but that is not very applicable at all. With out citation, that is 100% worthless.

Especially when you consider how loose the media in general is with the term "senior [Insert President Here] Administration official"

toutfishing: Kudos
posted by Steve_at_Linnwood at 2:05 PM on January 3, 2004


>This is very applicable--from Harpers: T

That's a great find and highly applicable to this thread. Moreso than S@L's lame Kudos jokes.
posted by skallas at 2:51 PM on January 3, 2004


Steve, it's all been sourced before--Harper's doesn't make stuff up--check all the public statements of Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rice and Powell...those are the officials quoted.
posted by amberglow at 3:22 PM on January 3, 2004


Steve@
Sorry, but that is not very applicable at all. With out citation, that is 100% worthless.

it hurts, I know. but don't worry -- things look good for 2004, thet's the only important thing


blast from the past:

Begala was especially irate over Taylor's recent TV appearances. "How many places booked him without knowing that while he presented himself as an independent journalist -- who investigated the matter and concluded Starr was great and Clinton's a liar -- that he was negotiating for a job with Starr?"
ABC producers did not know about the job talks when Taylor was booked for tomorrow's edition of "This Week," but still plan to put him on -- with the appropriate disclosure, a spokeswoman said.



posted by matteo at 3:46 PM on January 3, 2004


Steve. Perhaps you missed the creative thrust of Mr. Smith in his Harper's piece; this was not a scholarly compilation with 30 pages of footnotes . . . it was meant as illustration to the point that, taken as a whole, there is a pattern to be discerned. A pattern of deception. A history of prevarication. A method to the madness. Do we need to drag out that tired Goering quote again to explain the strategy at work?

There is a proponderence of well documented fear mongering based on mistruths by "senior administration officials". Start here or here or here for more information.
What single item in the Harper's piece do you want run down for you? Which of these lies, by Dubya, do you contest as misattributed?

-"We found the weapons of mass destruction."
- "Intelligence gathered by this and other governments leaves no doubt that the Iraq regime continues to possess and conceal some of the most lethal weapons ever devised."
-"We must uncover every detail and learn every lesson of September the 11th."
posted by ahimsakid at 6:16 PM on January 3, 2004


Quotes with out sources are worthless... Period.

Not only is truthfulness in question, but more importantly: CONTEXT
posted by Steve_at_Linnwood at 7:06 PM on January 3, 2004


We know the context: public statements in speeches to the american people, the un, and on tv, selling the war to us, and explaining the messed-up situation there post-invasion. Keep trying, Steve : > (what are you accusing Harper's of anyway? lying?)
posted by amberglow at 7:18 PM on January 3, 2004


Steve, truthfulness doesn't seem to be important to you when talking about Bill Moyers. You many not agree with him, but you lose more credibility for not backing up your charge against him than Sam Smith does for not providing you with all the sources.

Anyway, Bill's keynote address to the National Conference on Media Reform seems relevant to this thread.
posted by john at 9:17 PM on January 3, 2004


not backing up your charge against him

Pick any episode of NOW that you like, and there is your proof.

Keep trying, Steve

I don't need to. While I may be a lone voice shouting over a chorus on this website, in the real world it is my side of the argument that is not only winning, but currently in power.
posted by Steve_at_Linnwood at 12:31 AM on January 4, 2004


That's all I needed to know. I will Ignore you from now on. Enjoy your "real world."
posted by john at 2:06 AM on January 4, 2004


Quick. Pass the antidote. Somebody needs it bad.
posted by crasspastor at 2:58 AM on January 4, 2004


I don't need to. While I may be a lone voice shouting over a chorus on this website, in the real world it is my side of the argument that is not only winning, but currently in power.

Ah, playing the Might Makes Right Card. There's a winner.
posted by y2karl at 4:02 PM on January 5, 2004


only in power til November, so enjoy it while it lasts steve : >
posted by amberglow at 4:09 PM on January 5, 2004


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