Saturday, April 12, 2008

How the Media Keeps Us *Dumb*

Though for the sake of time and brevity I no longer do the weekly "media watch," it's still good to keep in mind how our corporate mainstream media keeps the public woefully uninformed. As Glen Greenwald over at notes:

In the past two weeks, the following events transpired. A Department of Justice memo, authored by John Yoo, was released which authorized torture and presidential lawbreaking. It was revealed that the Bush administration declared the Fourth Amendment of the Bill of Rights to be inapplicable to "domestic military operations" within the U.S. The U.S. Attorney General appears to have fabricated a key event leading to the 9/11 attacks and made patently false statements about surveillance laws and related lawsuits.

So if that's the case, with such important topics to pursue, why is it the major corp news media found more time to talk about the sexual indiscretions of a former US president and question the patriotism and bowling skills of a current presidential candidate?

According to NEXIS, over the past thirty days the following topics were mentioned within a given frequency, obviously ranking their order of importance to the corporate media pundits:

"Yoo and torture" - 102 times

"Mukasey and 9/11" -- 73 times

"Yoo and Fourth Amendment" -- 16 times

"Obama and bowling" -- 1,043 times

"Obama and Wright" -- More than 3,000 times (too many to be counted)

"Obama and patriotism" - 1,607 times

"Clinton and Lewinsky" -- 1,079 times

Media Matters has also documented much of this seeming race to the bottom when it comes to news worthy of being called journalism.

According to Eric Boehlert even the Iraq War has taken a back seat to any titillating story able to fill newspaper space and airtime. While "news consumers' interest in Iraq remains relatively high," he states, "news coverage has basically vanished." He notes:

According to the Project for Excellence in Journalism's News Coverage Index, reports about the situation in Iraq accounted for just 2 percent of total news coverage from January through March.

On the April 11th episode of Hardball, host Chris Matthews and correspondent David Shuster, as if seeking to crystallize the media's propensity for the inane, spent what seemed to be an endless amount of time actually evaluating Sen. Barack Obama's beverage selection at a local diner, as some barometer of his electability:

MATTHEWS: What's so hard about doing a diner? I don't get it. Why doesn't he go in there and say, "Did you see the papers today? What do you think about that team? How did we do last night?" Just some regular connection?

SHUSTER: Well, here's the other thing that we saw on the tape, Chris, is that, when Obama went in, he was offered coffee, and he said, "I'll have orange juice."


SHUSTER: He did.

And it's just one of those sort of weird things. You know, when the owner of the diner says, "Here, have some coffee," you say, "Yes, thank you," and, "Oh, can I also please have some orange juice, in addition to this?" You don't just say, "No, I'll take orange juice," and then turn away and start shaking hands. That's what happens [unintelligible] --

MATTHEWS: You don't ask for a substitute on the menu.

SHUSTER: Exactly.

Yeah, exactly. With indepth media coverage like this, who needs propaganda? Keeping us all dumb will do the trick just fine.

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