That is why I lie to her and she to me
And in our faults by lies we flatter'd be
--Sonnet 138 (Lie with Me),
Well, it may be the devil or it may be the Lord
But you're gonna have to serve somebody
--Gotta Serve Somebody,
As a teenager, Michel believed that suffering
conferred dignity on a person.
Now he had to admit that he had been wrong.
What conferred dignity on people was television
--The Elementary Particles, Michel Houellebecq
And then it just becomes an industry
--Almost Famous (2000)
More on how the media creates and feeds myth, and subtracts from the truth:
integrity of reportage is being keenly challenged due to economics, and
venture capitalists like eBay's Pierre Omidyar are stepping in to the
breach to provide what he calls alternately "crusading journalism,"
or "opinionated news"
; what friend FDChief calls, "vanity media".
new online journal, First Look Media, will join Vice Media, Business
Insider and Ozy, among others, in presenting news with a spin. It is
"Entertainment Tonight" for a hipster 21st century, and he has recruited
names like Glenn Greenwald (The Guardian
) and Matt Taibbi (Rolling Stone
) to unabashedly front their take on the news they will report.
But "opinionated news" = agenda news (or, propaganda).
Is it any different to get fed a line by someone you think is "on your
side", than it is to read a Murdoch publication or listen to the Drudge Report or Fox news? You can
dig some truth out of CounterPunch
or Fox, by why should you have
to? There are only so many hours in a day, and opinion will never
reveal the truth until you get the facts and decide for yourself.
Greenwald is being disingenuous when he asserts that no one is a tabula rasa, ergo, writers should be opinionated. We may as well give up on our jury system if we do not believe a reporter can do his job in a disinterested manner.
To be well-informed, we should seek more facts, less opinion. I can be
wrong all on my own -- I do not need someone mainlining his thoughts to
me like a pusher.
Mr. Greenwald, one of the reporters to whom Edward Snowden released his NSA documents, seems like a nice guy. He started out on Blogger
with the ugly brown wallpaper, like the rest of us -- an attorney who
began writing on public matters from a Constitutional viewpoint. But As
Omidyar's star mouthpiece he is getting swept up into the cult of
personality, and says being "boring" is a cardinal sin of the press.
"Aggressive adversarial journalism" is where it's at.
It is sad when an educated man like Greenwald argues for the integrity of biased reportage. His dialog with the NYT's Bill Keller
was embarrassing for the number of faulty syllogisms and the "new news"
party line propaganda he peddled. He says we want personalities to
interpret "the words and actions of political officials", but that is so
patronizing. There are objective truths which precede the
Postmodernist's savvy "post-truth" worldview, and presenting those facts
is what news writer should do.
In her "Still Mad as Hell", The Times
Maureen Dowd wrote an excellent analogy of Chaveysky's fictional newsman Howard Beale in the 1976 film "Network" to today's broadcasters who will "tell you what to think":
Chayefsky said his 1976 masterpiece was “a rage against the
dehumanization of people” addicted to “boredom-killing” devices — a
dehumanization that has gone to warp speed as we have entered the cloud.
He said it was about “how to protect ourselves” from “the illusion we
sell as truth.”
I totally get that this is a democracy with all of its attendant freedoms. We at RangerAgainstWar
champion those freedoms, assuming that most people will (as the beer
adverts say) consume responsibly. But there must be something pure to
consume, if one is to operate from the facts.
is also a necessary antecedent to responsible decision-making and
action; it is the pause that refreshes. If there is no gap -- no space
between the stimulation and the act -- then we are operating in the
realm of the paramecium, reacting aimlesslessly and instinctively to
Sadly, our sped-up lifestyles involve a
rapidity of information dispersal and consumption demanding instant
response and judgement, akin to Malcolm Gladwell's Blink
which champions this knee-jerk response.
is like listening to a call-and-response spiritual in a Fundamentalist
church. Recent brain studies confirm that our actions precede conscious decision
, so the reversion to spontaneity and away from rationality appears to be an innate human default. We are the paramecia with an overgrown neo-cortex.
the ubiquity of easily-boarded social platforms and
instantaneous uploads is more of a burden than a release, for it keeps
us so busy and tired that we do not have the time to process all that
runs across our minds in a day, leaving us operating on a hamster wheel
The requirement to respond instantaneously in
a social milieu requires a reversion to group-think, so affiliation
with social networks of "like mind" is of primary importance.
Crowdsourcing is essential in order to attempt to access the
significance of any act in real time. However, that ingathering of input
is too often drawn from affinity-based media.
all babes in this new frontier of social networking, and being
frontiersman we look to exploit opportunities. We can't blame the
Greenwald's for trying to hitch their wagon to a star. But in
today's emotive entertainment stew, sanctioning opinionated writing
writing under the imprimatur of a newpaper's banner seems a fool's
errand at best, duplicitous at worst.
FDChief's earlier-mentioned post reminds us that we both began blogging
in late 2006. Blogging was a way to get out the word and to find
Many of us here met via Phil Carter's early military - policy blog, "IntelDump"
. Mr. Carter was an early friend to RAW
and like Mr. Greenwald, an attorney. Both have moved on to projects
less pure but more lucrative than their early efforts in the medium. [Mr. Carter joined, then left, the Obama administration. He is now on the staff of the policy think tank Center for a New American Security (CNAS).
CNAS began around the blog "Abu Muquwama" whose founder -- Andrew Exum
-- has exited down the rabbit hole of other, unknown, greener fields.
feel FDChief's frustration as what began as a promising project (the
honest intensity of the blog) has being co-opted by Twitter "feeds",
Facebook posts and the vanity press. The good guys have found new,
profitable homes, and when you have a landlord, you may not change the
interior too much.
The myths of Echo and Narcissus are
cautionary tales for our new "echo chamber" clannishness. Echo was
punished for adultery with Zeus by having her voice erased, except in
foolish repetition of another's
shouted words. Thus all Echo could do was repeat the voice of another.
fell in love with Narcissus, who fell in love with himself (his own
reflection), thereby risking an impossible love, ever-receding in its
falseness. She, repeating his words, he who stands entranced before his
own image, unaware of his adoration of his own reflection.
Labels: crusading journalism, Network, new media, opinionated news, Paddy Chayevsky, pierre omidyar, reporters as propagandists