Monday, August 13, 2007

The same weight to a lie

This is the group that attended the White House correspondents dinner and clapped for a rapping Karl Rove. As a class, they honor politeness over honesty and believe that being "balanced" means giving the same weight to a lie as you give to the truth.
I ran this quote back on the first of July, It's been itching at the back of my head ever since. It's by Ken Silverstein who went undercover as a dictator's agent in Washington to do a splendid article in Harpers about the lobbyists eager to represent the interests of savage totalitarian regimes.

This is, of course, what journalism is for.

The lobbyists squealed bloody murder and the establishment Washington media elites sniffed in disapproval at Silverstien's bad taste in actually engaging in the grubby practice of journalism. Hence his elegant 'fuck you.' above. To add delightful insult to injury it looks like Silverstien's article might be turned into a Hollywood movie.

His quote seems to perfectly encapsulate a whole host of memes about and traits of the mainstream media that have brought us to where we are; The insistent interrogatory dialogue of citizen journalists unwilling to continue to be a passive audience to the MSM's monologue.

This Peace, Earth and Justice News piece on the CBCs similar slavish approach to the well funded lobby of climate change deniers is of a piece with the same journalistic idea that being "balanced" means giving the same weight to a lie as you give to the truth. A perversion of the ideals of balance and objectivity, indicative of moral and intellectual cowardice.

Like significant scientific disagreement in the basic fact of anthropogenic global warming or Saddam's WMDs or P3 savings or the benefits of more privatization in health care or Barack Obama growing up in a Madrassa.

All unambiguous easily disproven, deliberate lies. All treated with respect, even reverence by an arrogant and out of touch mainstream media.

My friend Ian made the point that journalism's troubles began when it became a profession instead of a job - it used to be the domain of the smart but not necessarily college educated working class. Slowly journalists became part of the same clubby group of elites as those in power.

A world where someone like Conrad Black is considered a newsman.

At my most cynical I'm thankful for citizen journalism, because at least that means that somebody is still practicing journalism.


Alison said...

Great post, Cliff

Oh and Moby Dick Cheney

I guess this means we won't see the lot of them doing an 'I am Spartacus' for him.

RossK said...

What Alison said!


Cliff said...

Glad you liked it folks - I was actually worried it was a rather self indulgent and self evident state of the blogging nation, but it had been percolating for more than a month. I came up for air after an intensive couple of weeks orienting to the new job and poured it out last night.

It was time to write down the associations the Silverstien quote was striking, even if they were of no use to anybody but me.

hipparchia said...

it's a great quote, and i thank you for it. also for the article it links to. agree with you about the citizen journalism, even when it's not very good journalism, because the corporate-owned media have sure been falling down on the job. a lot.

and also for all the links i got from your comment at my blog.

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