Citizens & Frogs, Media & Government
If you put a frog in a pan of hot water, it will jump out. If you put it in a pan of lukewarm water, then slowly turn up the heat it will boil to death.
We are no different. In Shakespeare's Richard II, the tragic king observes that man's capacity for adjustment seems infinite. Infinite, yes. We are frogs, all of us. The only response is, Do we want to be?, and in that question lies our difference. We can jump out before the water boils.
Not that we will. Only that we can.
Where am I going with this? Here—In the last post, I noted that most media are ignoring the military build-up in the Middle East. The reason is obvious. It's called big business. The media are big business. For news anchors, the build-up story does not scream. People might flick the remote to the next channel. Besides, if war erupts, why that would be a real screamer, attracting many viewers. Never mind all that B.S. about the public interest, say the media. A buddy of media executives, former FCC Chairman Michael Powell said he did not know what the public interest is. He was not kidding.
You and I are the public, and we know what it is. Our vital interest lies with knowing that massive military build-ups have occurred in the Eastern Mediterranean and the Persian Gulf. We are already like frogs, our troops in the scalding water of Iraq. Without public knowledge, without public debate, we may be plunged into a caldron. Mainstream news got us into Iraq because corporate profit margins rule out investigative journalism. Instead, the news anchors just parroted the White House buzz words. Weapons of Mass Destruction. Saddam Hussein linked to terrorists. Lies, all of them, we now know, but no thanks to the media's sense of public interest.
There went more frogs into Iraq. In the Nineteenth Century soldiers were openly called cannon fodder by the power elite. Those in power did not understand what we now call Spin, or Propaganda. This explains why recent polls reveal that public trust in government is far lower than in 1981.
The only way to stop being frogs is to understand what is happening to media in this country. Not only to understand it, but to make our voices heard before the water boils.
Think about this.
Now, tell me that the media makes sure the public is well-informed.
Oh, we will still have freedom of choice. We can select many different programs to watch. We have great variety in entertainment. Like a frog, we can sit contentedly while the water heats.
But our understanding of our world, the way we see it, that is a different matter. It will be shaped by how big businesses want us to see it. There is a pattern to the way certain stories are covered, then dropped. The level of secrecy, of news distortion, or non-coverage has reached a historic low.
Charles Lewis of the Center for Pubic Integrity was a producer for CBS Sixty Minutes until he concluded that the public simply never learned much of important news. Lewis has this to say of his own organization, Center for Public Integrity:
How much power do we have? One thing is certain. Our power will be limited to that of a frog in heating water unless we make ourselves heard.
Source: Orwell Rolls in His Grave at Information Clearing House