Kicking against the pricks* … again

Aug 26, 2009 at 5:00 am

The low-rent, runt-of-the-litter media watchdog you thought you’d seen the last of has returned unbidden with the mange, a creepy eye and an irreversible hard on.

I tried everything I could to insulate myself from the cultural fallout that’s flying through the airwaves and bashing up the zeitgeist like so much informational shrapnel. My aspiration to a life free of media irritants, while bordering on cowardice, has been largely successful. A close friend remarked the other day that I am lately calmer and more satisfied than he’s ever seen me.

It was pretty easy, really. I watched the most anodyne broadcast television possible, avoiding any documentaries on coal mining, opting instead for John Cusak movies. As far as I know, The Courier-Journal has been selling kindling out of the loading dock on Fifth Street. I bid good riddance to the Internet signal I was stealing — which up and disappeared six months ago — and if I heard a British voice on the radio I violently spun the dial until my panic was soothed by the harmless country amnesia of 103.9 FM, the best of the ’70s, ’80s and today.

But turning your back on it all, while understandable, is ultimately irresponsible folly.

I can’t get the piece of mind I’m after without feeling like a deserter, and I’m paralyzed by my inability to keep the meatheads at bay. And so I’m left feeling like a monkey who has learned to throw his crap and flip people off in an effort to stop them, if only for a little while, from tapping on the glass.

But sometimes they just keep on tapping.

So let me see if I’ve got some of this right:

Some moderately clever special interest goons have succeeded in stirring the ire of a nation of bored hicks by jamming their inboxes with scripted instructions on how to shout down their elected officials like they were at a Jerry Springer taping. Stealing pages from the S.P.E.C.T.R.E. playbook, these shrewd pricks have rallied a bunch of drones to believe that our illegitimate Islamo-fascist Nazi Afro-Hawaiian President wants to give them a bargain on a new car and then roll their Mee Maw into a euthanasia chamber and send them the bill.

So far, so good?

The power and longevity of disinformation is increased exponentially by the vampire needs of news outlets, and the anemic news junkies that gleefully offer up their throats to them. This ought to be clear by now, but apparently bears repeating.

Paradoxically, these completely insane town hall blitzkriegs on rationality are newsworthy. It is happening. And while I saw less transparent efforts to shepherd public opinion in G.I. Joe comic books when I was 12, they represent a notable and growing chasm in the worldviews of the American public. Nothing wrong with reporting on that, I guess.

What is unacceptable and unbelievable is the orchestrated effort on the part of the political right to make this junk appear to be anything less than complete madness, and the failure on the part of the rest of the Fourth Estate to reveal its fraudulence more explicitly, or to just let it die on the vine.

I saw Rep. Barney Frank’s reasonable and, I think, tame response to the wacko cultist who wanted to know why he supported Obama’s Nazi schemes. Sure, it’s kind of difficult not to give that one some airplay. But was it irresponsible to lump her in, implicitly or otherwise, with the slightly less brainwashed attendees of recent town hall meetings across the country? Maybe.

Alternately, a Sean Hannity segment on FOX News reduced Frank’s meeting to a highlight reel of brief, terse responses from the visibly frustrated gentleman from Massachusetts. The producers deleted any and all of the questions, taunts and jeers that provoked him, choosing only to show a big white dude in a tie repeatedly shouting at people.

The sequence then cut back to the intrepid cub reporter geek who covered the event and excoriated Frank for “talking down” to his constituents, and used it as just another example of the disdain held by elite power brokers in Washington for the American public.

This kind of cut-and-paste propaganda that actively erases context isn’t new, but it’s still bullshit.

Will our new health care plan cover people whose heads explode from watching the news? Sign me up, I’m feeling queasy, and at this point I don’t care who pays for it.


Next on my reading list: “Manufacturing Consent” by Noam Chomsky


*Acts 26:14