March 23, 2018
If the popular news sites are to be believed, the United States citizenry is mesmerized by President Donald Trump’s efforts to shut down the Mueller investigation into possible collusion between the Trump presidential campaign and Russia. Add to that is the supposed fascination with a porn star known as Stormy Daniels, and that, we are all told, is what is keeping us up at night.
And perhaps it is. After all, isn’t ‘news’ what newscasters tell us it is? Don’t they, without any bias, inform the public of what is happening in the world, doing their best to sort the important (e.g. Israel violations of international law; world leaders’ threats of war) from the more mundane (e.g. some politician’s alleged extra-marital affair; a bus accident in the Alps)? Can’t the U.S. viewer tune into any news program and receive the same basic information? Certainly, the political pundits on each program may spin the information a bit differently; after reporting the facts, these ‘experts’ will provide their interpretation of the meaning of the action, what results it might bring, etc.
If one believes such a thing, allow this writer to tell you about an obese man dressed in red, who lands his reindeer-propelled sled on your roof in December, and enters your home through a chimney, bringing a sack full of toys.
MSNBC anchor Mika Brzezinski made it all clear for us a year ago, although few people seemed to be paying attention. In what was characterized as a ‘lively discussion’, she commented on Trump’s ‘alternate facts’: “Well, I think that the dangerous, you know, edges here are that he is trying to undermine the media and trying to make up his own facts. And it could be that while unemployment and the economy worsens, he could have undermined the messaging so much that he can actually control exactly what people think. And that, that is our job.”
Let us recap, to assure that there is no misunderstanding. The president is trying to control what people think (Problem 1), but the news media feels that that is their role (Problem 2). We will focus on Problem 2, since the number of people who take Trump seriously is fast reaching the point of statistical insignificance.
During apartheid Israel’s 2014 genocidal carpet-bombing of the Gaza Strip, one popular newscaster showed a photo of a desperate Palestinian woman, and said she was an Israeli, and a victim of Palestinian ‘terrorism’. Although this was later corrected, it’s unlikely that everyone who saw the initial report (and who may have, incredibly, not realized that it was, in fact, a Palestinian woman), saw the retraction.
Israel’s constant harassment of Palestinians, including arrests and detention without charge; bulldozing of homes; stealing land; killing unarmed men, women and children and other atrocities go mainly unreported, while any action of resistance by a Palestinian makes headline news. Nowhere is it mentioned that Israel occupies Palestine in violation of international law; never is it pointed out that Israel has moved over 500,000 settlers onto occupied Palestinian territory, also in violation of international law. The use of Palestine’s natural resources by Israel, again a violation of international law, isn’t deemed, by those who are self-appointed to “control exactly what people think”, newsworthy.
Any violent resistance to the occupation is proclaimed as an example of Palestinian barbarity. These ‘thought control’ ‘experts’ don’t bother to state that, according to international law, an occupied people has the right to use any means at all to resist the occupation. And when peaceful movements to end the occupation, such as the BDS (Boycott, Sanction and Divest) movement gain traction, the old saw of anti-Semitism is dragged out and paraded around as if it has any validity.
Of course, why should the abject suffering of the Palestinian people by apartheid Israel, fully financed and condoned by the U.S., be a subject of conversation, when Stormy Daniels is smirking her way through the news? Why consider Israel’s crimes against humanity, when we can all fall asleep trying to keep track of who may or may not have said what to Robert Mueller? Speculation on how soon Jared Kushner and his annoying wife, Ivanka, will depart the White House, leaving jobs they have no qualifications for and have shown no aptitude to do, is far more important than children starving in Palestine because of Israel’s illegal occupation and blockade. Or so our ‘thought controllers’ will tell us.
Why is this? Why is sensationalism (e.g. Stormy Daniels) reported more than real news? While the Mueller investigation is certainly important, it is not the only newsworthy activity happening on the planet. It is said that possible collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign threatens the very essence of U.S. democracy. Apparently, people weren’t paying attention when, generations ago, any semblance of democracy in the U.S. disappeared, replaced by an oligarchy. Can we please just stop trying to foster the fantasy of the U.S. as a democratic beacon of peace, freedom and equality? It is believed nowhere outside of U.S. borders.
The mainstream news won’t help; their corporate owners know that by controlling what people perceive to be important, they can maintain their stranglehold on the wealth and power of the country. They are not philanthropists, using their vast fortunes for the good of society. They are capitalists, exploiting the poor and working class for their own financial gain.
The result of this is that news stations serve up pablum, and tell the viewer it is caviar. And, since Mika Brzezinski and her cohorts say it, it must be true.
A mantra from the decade of the sixties was ‘question authority’. The validity of doing so is no less important now than it’s ever been. Whether that authority is the U.S. government, the news media, or any other organization which wields control over our lives, their motivations must always be open to question and challenge.
It is long past time for major change in the U.S. The much-vaunted ‘experiment in democracy’ has failed, so a new model must take its place. An informed populace can achieve it, but those who rely on MSNBC, FOX, C-Span and the rest do not constitute an ‘informed’ populace. Seeking out information from independent news sources will be our salvation, if only we will embrace it.