Critiquing the Mealy State Mouthpiece

We’ve been saying this for a long time, that the mass media in North Amerika has collapsed. It has become an appendage of a state gone rancid on its own power. We disdain their (MSM and government) words and follow our own path.

Iraq: Why the media failed
By Gary Kamiya

Afraid to challenge America’s leaders or conventional wisdom about the Middle East, a toothless press collapsed.

April 10, 2007 | It’s no secret that the period of time between 9/11 and the invasion of Iraq represents one of the greatest collapses in the history of the American media. Every branch of the media failed, from daily newspapers, magazines and Web sites to television networks, cable channels and radio. I’m not going to go into chapter and verse about the media’s specific failures, its credulousness about aluminum tubes and mushroom clouds and failure to make clear that Saddam Hussein had nothing to do with 9/11 — they’re too well known to repeat. In any case, the real failing was not in any one area; it was across the board. Bush administration lies and distortions went unchallenged, or were actively promoted. Fundamental and problematic assumptions about terrorism and the “war on terror” were rarely debated or even discussed. Vital historical context was almost never provided. And it wasn’t just a failure of analysis. With some honorable exceptions, good old-fashioned reporting was also absent.

But perhaps the press’s most notable failure was its inability to determine just why this disastrous war was ever launched. Kristina Borjesson, author of “Feet to the Fire,” a collection of interviews with 21 journalists about why the press collapsed, summed this up succinctly. “The thing that I found really profound was that there really was no consensus among this nation’s top messengers about why we went to war,” Borjesson told AlterNet. “[War is the] most extreme activity a nation can engage in, and if they weren’t clear about it, that means the public wasn’t necessarily clear about the real reasons. And I still don’t think the American people are clear about it.”

Of course, the media was not alone in its collapse. Congress rolled over and gave Bush authorization to go to war. And the majority of the American people, traumatized by 9/11, followed their delusional president down the primrose path. Had the media done its job, Bush’s war of choice might still have taken place. But we’ll never know.

Why did the media fail so disastrously in its response to the biggest issue of a generation? To answer this, we need to look at three broad, interrelated areas, which I have called psychological, institutional and ideological. The media had serious preexisting weaknesses on all three fronts, and when a devastating terrorist attack and a radical, reckless and duplicitous administration came together, the result was a perfect storm.

The psychological category is the most amorphous of the three and the most inexactly named — it could just as easily be termed sociological. By it, I mean the subtle, internalized, often unconscious way that the media conforms and defers to certain sacrosanct values and ideals. Journalists like to think of themselves as autonomous agents who pursue truth without fear or favor. In fact, the media, especially the mass media, adheres to a whole set of sometimes explicit, sometimes implicit codes that govern what it feels it can say. Network television provides the clearest example. From decency codes to subject matter, the networks have always been surrounded by a vast, mostly invisible web of constraints.

Seen in this light, the mass media is a quasi-official institution, an info-nanny, that is held responsible for maintaining a kind of national consensus. Just as our legal system is largely based on what a “reasonable” person would think, so our mass media is charged with presenting not just an accurate view of the world but also an “appropriate” one.

What “appropriate” means in absolute terms is impossible to define. In practice, however, its meaning is quite clear. It’s reflected in a cautious, centrist media that defers to accepted national dogmas and allows itself to shade cautiously into advocacy on issues only when it thinks it has the popular imprimatur to do so. The “culture wars” of recent decades are largely a backlash by enraged conservatives who correctly perceive that the “liberal” media has conferred its quasi-official seal of approval on issues like gay rights and women’s right to abortion. In fact, the mainstream media only dares to deviate from the imagined national center, from “appropriate” discourse, within a highly circumscribed area.

Read the rest here.

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