“A principle familiar to propagandists is that the doctrines to be instilled in the target audience should NOT be articulated: that would only expose them to reflection, inquiry, and, very likely, ridicule. The proper procedure is to drill them home by constantly presupposing them, so that they become the very condition for discourse.” – Noam Chomsky, “Third World, First Threat” 1993.
I was hired by the Santa Cruz Sentinel newspaper to be a writer in 1993, and I worked in the sports section and also in the entertainment section. I saw a wave coming early on when our chief competition, the San Jose Mercury, launched the Mercury Center via AOL. It was the beginning of the end of the print news business, even if most of us, even the most forward thinking of us, didn’t really know it.
In those days, we got a lot of our stories off of the Associated Press (AP) or United Press International (UPI) newswires, which were kind of like telegram cables. The quality of the content of the news had to be high. There were professional standards that must be adhered to. And, as my editors were quick to point out, the people who are in positions of power are our adversary, pure and simple. The media acted as a check in the grand scheme of governmental checks and balances: the executive and the legislative and the judicial branches ALL must be held to account by the media. My favorite practitioner of Gonzo journalism, Hunter S. Thompson, threw in his own style of literary flair to hit on truths bigger than What, Where, When, How and Why. For example, is it not right, or true, or in keeping with the duty of media, to call Ronald Reagan a stinking swine when he blabbed to People Magazine in 1986 that “This generation will likely have to face Armageddon,” or to say, quite simply, that Nixon was a bad drunk?
Yes, Hunter was a lot of things. But, I have to say, Hunter was authentic.
We were duty-bound and truths like the ones he’d write were important and informative.
Unfortunately, we were doomed. Time and technological advances made the public fall victim to rapidly accelerating media saturation… and as such, the media’s relevance faded, and it’s duty was no longer to serve people with unbiased and direct information regarding our elected and unelected government officials.
Rather, media became propaganda for whoever paid the best. As such, media became a bad salesman, pitching a broken down lemon of a healthy, thriving, functioning society. And yet, the pitch is effective and accepted as truth.
The media do not say things like: “The United States ALWAYS supports democracy, NEVER aggresses against other nations, and always ALWAYS opposes terrorists.” Nor do advertisers explicitly say that the key to happiness and the good life is the unceasing and ever-expanding consumption of purchasable products.
But the message still comes through, loud and clear, as a presupposed truth.
We live in a world where there is more and more information, and less and less meaning. Contemporary society is dominated by computers and algorithms. There’s hardly a second that we’re not plugged in, in this “civilized” world. As mankind races toward achieving seamless virtual realities and artificial intelligence, it stands to make me wonder whether or not a simulation of reality is actually our new normal, now, and far beyond anyone’s control.
Most of us spend almost all of our time in highly artificial environments, far removed from nature. We move about, from one building to another. We travel in little bubbles: cars, trains, airplanes. Even while we’re in route we’re buried in our mobile, wireless phones, connecting to all of the information out there. Ours is a world of steel, brick, cement and glass, not that of mountain, meadow, tree, and stream.
The last Presidential primaries/general election have concluded, and what struck me most about that crazy show was that Dr. Gonzo is dead. So dead.
The evidence was in the unprecedented dominance of public relations and advertising in media, resulting in disinformation and propaganda, and, most importantly, increasingly brazen strong-arm tactics to make sure, absolutely sure, no matter what, that Hillary Diane Rodham Clinton would face Donald Jackass Trump. It didn’t matter who won. Not to the rich people who determine these things. Neither of them were a threat to current of the $currency$, the status quo would be preserved.
People scream that Russia “influenced” our election via hacks on the DNC (the contents from those hacks has never been disputed, only who actually hacked & leaked that info.) People freak out because Russia propagandized and misinformed voters via trolls on Facebook and Twitter? But if you learn history and don’t ask yourself if America’s track record is any better, then you’re not thinking critically enough.
What about American propagandizing via social, alternative AND mainstream media? Not only in MANY other countries, but even in our own?
I could go through a million examples to show this was all orchestrated, pre-decided, pre-destined, but I refuse to list more than a few, because if you haven’t been paying attention, it’s your own damn fault. The most glaring example, to me, was the June 7, 2016, Associated Press story and photo, written and photographed by, you guessed it, the Hillary Clinton campaign several days beforehand and then submitted to… the AP editorial team!… for publication.
Or how about this one, from the Hillary email vault:
“I just received confirmation from 60 Minutes that a piece on Julian Assange will air Sunday night,” Philip Crowley, the assistant secretary of state for public affairs, wrote to Clinton in 2011. “He will be the only person featured. We had made a number of suggestions for outside experts and former diplomats to interview to ‘balance’ the piece. 60 Minutes assures me that they raised a number of questions and concerns we planted with them during the course of the interview. We will be prepared to respond to the narrative Assange presents during the program.”
Her reply: “Too bad they’re showcasing him. See you tomorrow when we try making lemonade out of some pretty sour lemons!”
I’m left with three questions:
Do interviews even matter, other than being vessels for public relations?
Does the media matter AT ALL?
Is all the world but a stage?
Every time I unplug, I realize, more and more, that the entire world’s perception of what’s truly important and meaningful is getting more and more skewed by what all this media are selling.
I thank God for my nieces and nephew, for reminding me that the future is worth fighting for, as I don’t want them to inhabit a poisoned world with a shallow artifice.
I’ll never give up on that.
Every time I unplug, I realize, more and more, that I’m a storyteller, and if I’m going to keep telling good stories, I have to be authentic. In order to be authentic, I have to detach, more and more, from the real truth (that people are the victims of deception and exploitation on a massive scale) AND the artificial reality construct of the media, used to control and enslave people.
I have to be free.
And how will I be that which I am?
I think I’ve got to leave the big city, walk amongst the free creatures and plants of this Earth, and remember to self-program, to decide for myself what sort of things I want, and what sort of person I will become.