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Belmont Club

The Land of the Funhouse Mirror

April 12th, 2013 - 3:04 pm

The media’s greatest source of power is in its control over news distribution. Back in the days of printed newspapers that literally meant their ability to put a printed sheet in millions of mailboxes. But in the Internet age when all sites, big or small are equally accessible over the network, distribution means something subtly different. It now consists in defining what constitutes the news. In an era where time is money few have the luxury of ferreting out the truth online. Most would rather open the TV or go a reputable news site. There they start and there they end.

The influence of today’s great media empires over the news lies less in the truthfulness of their product, but in what they choose to cover, in what they choose to offer.

The reply by a Washington Post reporter that she was disinterested in the Kermit Gosnell abortion case because “I cover policy for the Washington Post, not local crime” epitomizes this power.

Yet, as the Atlantic noted, the Gosnell story had it all. “The dead babies. The exploited women. The racism. The numerous governmental failures. It is thoroughly newsworthy.” In that last, however, lies the rub. Nothing is thoroughly newsworthy until the powers that be, whoever they are, decide that it is something more than “local crime”.

And the powers that be have decided Gosnell is “local crime”.

We learn that over 700 Special Operations veterans are “demanding a new investigation into the September 11, 2012 terror attack that took the life of US Ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens and three other Americans.” But we learn this information from the Daily Mail, a British newspaper specializing in sensational news.  The great majority will remain unaware of it.  And if someone brings the matter up in a talkshow it can always be dismissed in terms of  being a story found ‘only in the Daily Mail.’  It is delegitimized and vanishes before it is even noticed.

But the media’s efforts to maintain control over the narrative,to retain authorship of the talking points, comes at a very stiff price. The need to displace any current headline has led to the requirement of shortening the news cycle to the point where it delivers not public memory, but public amnesia.

The news must now resemble nothing more than the old ticker boards with snippets scrolling past.  The average reader is now in front of its high tech version, a man strapped to a chair in front of a TV set, bewildered by fleeting images, none of which bear the slightest apparent connection to anything previous.

If you ask the average person ‘what happened today’? he might regurgitate a series of disjointed recollections, like a person struggling to regain his memory after a plane crash.  A man might watch the daily CNN coverage about say, Syria, for years on end and still be quite unable to say what it is about.

When we are asked ‘what was in the news’, we might say “I saw a clip of thousands of people fighting for relief food in Africa”, as if that were the event in itself.

Jonathan Foreman, in his book, Aiding & Abetting: Foreign Aid Failures recounts that in aftermath of the Rwandan genocide, dozens of journalists descended on the town of Goma to cover the sufferings of the refugees there. The overwhelming impression given by the newsmen, describing stories of disease with their brows knitted in concern, were that these were victims fleeing the recent genocide.

In fact “they were the Interhamwe militia, together with their families, many of whom had also taken part in the mass slaughter. They and the Hutu government had been confronted with defeat by a Tutsi exile army (the RPF) invading from Uganda.”.

This dark circus flourished for two years thanks to the donations of foreign governments and charitable Westerners. It only came to an end, to the economic disadvantage of the ‘international humanitarian community’, when Rwandan Tutsi forces, fed up with attacks mounted from the camps, invaded Congo and overran Goma. As David Rieff points out, if in 1944 200,000 SS soldiers had taken their families out of Nazi Europe as it fell to the allies and fled to some neutral country, they too would have humanitarian needs, but the rest of the world might have found it hard to ignore the political and moral context of their presence. They would have found it even harder, if the SS troops had used refugee camps as bases for attacks on those who had survived their genocidal efforts. Yet that is almost exactly what happened in 1995, when the world’s aid agencies and NGOs landed at the Goma airstrip and made a vast effort to succour, house and feed the defeated Hutu forces and their families.

We were watching the bad guys, not that you would know.

The other price the public pays for allowing the media to choose talking points is  ’optical distortion’. For some reason the doings of Jay-Z, or Karmala Harris, or Kim Kardashian are regarded as front page material by the editorial staffs whereas the Kermit Gosnell trial is mere “local crime”. Thus, not only do the news images flash past the viewer in a jumbled sequence but the relative proportion of the scenes depicted is grossly distorted.

The joint effect of these practices is essentially to create a badly misinformed public. What is worse is that since the politicians themselves are the greatest consumers of the ‘news’ public policy itself — a matter of greater concern to the Washington Post reporter — is distorted by this drivel. It creates a self-reinforcing feedback loop in which the clowns believe their own press. They come to actually believe that what Jay-Z thinks is more important than the possible existence of hundreds, perhaps thousands of Kermit Gosnells in inner cities all over America.

Perhaps the greatest damage wrought by the manipulation of the ‘talking points’ and the ordination of the narrative is that it poisons the well of public knowledge. It corrupts our database of information. It creates in a 21st century society a kind of dementia and Alzheimer’s made all the more tragic because it is self inflicted.

The ancients knew the eventual cost of self deception. Euripedes quoting an even earlier, unknown source, wrote “those whom the gods would destroy, they first make mad”. We’re already at the mad part.  What is part 2?

 


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All Comments   (48)
All Comments   (48)
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FWIW, the sub-link in the article below is what fails. Conspicuously so.

Become untraceable
“If you're going to post government secrets on your work-around site, you may want to* set up an untraceable account. *Really, you only need a mail drop, an assumed name, a prepaid credit card you can get at many stores to set up service.”

http://howto.wired.com/wiki/Wired%27s_How-To_Wiki_Has_Moved%21
returns
Wired's How-To Wiki Has Moved!
Ooops! Wired's How-To Wiki has moved, and the page you're requesting has moved along with it.
The wiki is now supported by MediaWiki, the open-source platform originally created for Wikipedia.
Please use the search bar in the upper right-hand corner of the page in order to locate your article's new home. Or feel free to follow the links below to some of our most popular wiki articles.

1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Out of many, one:

http://www.scmp.com/news/article/1213468/yuan-reaches-record-high-against-us-dollar

The BIG story here is that the cost of imported food for Red China's proles is going DOWN.

Brainiacs drafting this chicken-little article posit the insane notion that the big story is that 'Hong Kong inflation' will go up.

HK inflation, per se, is a non-story. On balance, HK imports its food from overseas -- at the margin. (It's a huge port of entry for foodstuffs. So whatever the price movement vs the Mainland -- it's offset by the Mainland's landing cost. -- It's always a 'push.'

The big news is that Beijing is going to stop accumulating USD and Yen at prior tempos. The negatives triggered by Mercantilist policy are being noticed.

Should Beijing actually reverse her mercantilism, the Yuan would appreciate enough to largely offset the depreciation of the Yen and the USD assets owned by the Chinese Communist state.

THAT'S news.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
That Nurenburg Rally Scene from the "Triumph of the Will" has reappeared countless times in modern movies, Here is the classic scene:

http://fc01.deviantart.net/fs70/i/2012/206/2/3/back_view_of_a_rally_in_nuremberg_by_themistrunsred-d58m8do.jpg

Here is a well known reproduction:

http://kesseljunkie.files.wordpress.com/2012/07/epiv_throne_room.jpg

The Nurenburg Rally Scene has appeared so many times that it has become cliche. Typically it is a not-so-subtle Hollywood signal indicating that the characters being viewed are Nazis. George Lucas was not that sophisticated and probably used the Nurenburg Rally Scene naively to create a sense of grandeur (Leni Riefenstahl's original intent). "Star Wars" was actually several different WW-II symbols and propaganda movies that were slapped together in a science fiction setting. The Millenium Falcon was merely a B-29 bomber recast as a starship. Darth Vader's helmet was another obvious example. All Lucas really did was cut-and-paste. Unfortunately, Lucas was out of his depth with the Star Wars prequels where he attempted to be original and failed abysmally. I would dare say that the original "Star Wars" and "The Empire Strikes Back" were the only first rate movies from the entire series. The rest were just mindless popcorn movies.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Mubarak has been resurrected!!! Today will be called Easter 2 from now on.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment

Annoy Mouse
Yikes! - I have been thinking about the vulnerability of the internet and radical leftests with an underlying hatred for a republic that was founded by old white guys pretty much leaves anything open. You scenario above is not a stretch though they'd probably just shut down Drudge and incarcerate him on the classified "Double Secret Probation Act".

Next are the cell phone networks and maybe perr to peer. Finally, there will be the twitter like channels of packet radio after which we'll have to resort to beating on drums and smoke signals.
4 hours ago

As part of one's prep just in case things go dark online [and that will be a prelude to other darkness] here are some things that proved useful in the recent past when Egypt shut down its ISP's completely trying to close down its bloggers. Wretchard, thank you for retrieving site archives from the PJMedia memory hole.

https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2011/12/creating-contingency-plan-risk-bloggers

http://www.popularmechanics.com/technology/how-to/computer-security/how-to-disappear-completely-from-the-internet?click=pp

http://pjmedia.com/richardfernandez/2011/01/28/text-like-an-egyptian/#comments

http://manalaa.net/dialup

Best to have information stored and not need it, than need it and be cut off from it.

Subotai Bahadur
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
DRAT! missed including one very important link on the list:

http://howto.wired.com/wiki/Communicate_if_Your_Government_Shuts_Off_Your_Internet

Add to the base post please.

Subotai Bahadur
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Case in point, wired, how-to, untraceable link has been moved and seems to have disappeared. Things like this were good when leftists feared GWB. Now everything they feared seems like a good idea. Funny how that works.

1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I checked all the links before I posted them, and they were good. Just checked again and all 5 links are good. Anybody else having problems?

I recommend that the information either be printed or saved to a thumb drive, or both. In fact, if y'all are anything like me; you have been collecting SHTF info links for a while. I am probably going to create a binder of printed out information AND thumb drive storage. It seems ... prudent .... against evil times.

Subotai Bahadur
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Wretchard, I think a typo in the quote "We learn that over 700 Special Operations veterans are “demanding a new investigation into the September 11, 2002 terror attack that took the life of US Ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens and three other Americans.” Should be 2012, yes?
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
The Ministry of Narrative is all powerful now - the only way a should-be-disgraced SecOfState could throw a tantrum and scream "It just doesn't matter" under oath over Benghazi and still be considered by conventional wisdom to be a star candidate for POTUS.

In a reverse-Michelle moment, I was angrily, deeply ashamed of my country for the first time in my life over the unfolding of Benghazi. I am guessing that maybe only 5 to 10 percent of the population knows what the story is about and the questions that it poses, and half of those are actively working to fuel the narrative that "It just doesn't matter".

Anyone who cannot see the absolute total moral, spiritual, and financial bankruptcy of the entire Federal Government apparatus today is a testament to the total power held by the media and academia. Their moral authority is to prop up a grieving parent as a puppet on a stick, or better, fly time around on AF1. Even the grieving parent can feel something deeply wrong in the dead, cold-fish eyes and handshake of Soetoro,

The All-Seeing Eye of Sauron is blazing down upon the Westfold, the hills are filled with Orcs and Trolls.... "How did it come to this?"

1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Sorry, accuracy is needed - the quote should be "What difference does it make?!?!?!!!??"
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Regarding confirmation bias and living in the "Fox News bubble" - I plead guilty as charged. However, it occurs to me that there is a huge asymmetry between those in the MSM bubble and those of us who may be in a conservative bubble. While we may not be up to speed on all the inside baseball of the Statist movement, we tend to understand what they are about and what points they are currently making. Those in the MSM bubble have no clue about conservatives/libertarians. They only know the caricature - stupid, racist, anti-women, for the rich, etc. I write this while visiting the Hyde Park neighborhood in Chicago. The ignorance of these "highly educated" people is beyond belief.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
"Death by a thousand cuts" an old Asian concept of a military tactic and method of torture. This I believe is what is happening to the mainstream media. No one revelation will destroy them but they continue to happen and they are coming at a faster rate. Notice that the print newspapers are not only online with the paper but are sponsoring bloggers and twitters. This opens them up to cuts. Talk radio has expanded considerably since the 1980's, more cuts. In the end the half-twits will die from lack of attention.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
The "death by a thousand cuts" was a torture used by the Emperor Caligula. Read the section on "Gaius (Caligula)" in "The Twelve Caesars" by Suetonius. The Robert Graves translation is recommended.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
"Death by a thousand cuts" by the Chinese as a military strategy preceded Caligula by about 400 to 500 years. As a torture hard to tell.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Before getting On Topic, let me begin by noting that this Comments format still sucks. I find myself reading fewer BC comments and participating less due to this sucky format. FWIW - the prior format was not just better than the current iteration, it was the best I have ever been involved with in the blogosphere. Now to the topic at hand
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
FWIW - the prior format was not just better than the current iteration, it was the best I have ever been involved with in the blogosphere.

No one can say that any better.

And agree that the Comment format sucketh mightily. Let's start counting the ways:

- the defunct HTML codes.
- the truncated texts and the useless 'show more'.
- the truncated author handles.
- the vanishing comments when you're half through writing and get called away for an interval of time, to find a blank on returning.

Does pjmedia understand? Does it care? Is that a good way to treat customers?
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
The old comment format was a simple linear list, with a few simple styles allowed, primitive editing, primitive refreshing, slow posting. It was very basic. And much better than this.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
A couple weeks ago, I wrote a "Memo to the RNC". I doubt that anyone at the RNC has actually seen it, but here are two points dealing specifically with GOP relations with MSM.

1. Republican campaigns must treat Mainstream Media (MSM) as an appendage of the Democrat Party. Our candidates need to develop a thoughtful and wide ranging “Mainstream Media Strategy” – something which is far different from a typical “media strategy”. A successful MSM Strategy is not about engaging in a shouting match with those who buy ink by the barrel. Nor is it useful to simply whine about media bias. Instead, for starters, our candidates can behave like good doctors who "first, do no harm". A Republican campaign should NEVER say or do anything that adds legitimacy to Mainstream Media. MSM are not neutral referees and every time a Republican candidate treats them as such, it only serves to strengthen the campaign of his Democrat opponent.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
2. Complimenting #1 above, Republicans must work to enhance the influence of conservative media. 24/7/365, conservative media (Fox News, Talk Radio, WSJ, NRO, etc. and the Blogosphere) produce useful and exciting content. Our campaigns should work to steer undecided voters away from MSM and towards conservative sources of information and opinion. The recent “autopsy” of the 2012 campaign notes that there were far too many primary debates. I have no problem with cutting back on the number of debates. But far more important is to NEVER AGAIN allow a Republican primary debate to be moderated by the MSM faction of the Democrat Party. Imagine if all of those primary debates in 2011-12 had been moderated by folks like Brit Hume, Steve Hayes, Charles Krauthammer, Mike Huckabee, Michael Medved, et al. Another approach might be to include a MSM moderator with one or more conservative moderators. Such a structure could lead to these sorts of exchanges,

MSM moderator:
“I would like to ask candidate X if he is in favor of free birth control for women.”

[after candidate X answers the question]

Conservative media moderator: “I would like to ask candidate Z what he thinks about those who are fixated on birth control at a time when America is confronting a debt of 17 Trillion dollars, our unemployment rate remains stubbornly high and Iran is on the verge of joining North Korea as a member of the nuclear nut-ocracy club."
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
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