Media Criticism 3-Pack
In liberal democratic societies, it has long been understood that the use of force to control the population is generally not a viable option. Therefore, controlling what people think is critical. Thus, an elaborate system of propaganda is needed. For that system to be effective it must appear invisible. In totalitarian states there is no ambiguity. Citizens know they are getting the party line. But in countries like the U.S., where ownership is private and formal censorship is absent, there is an appearance of a free flow of information. However, that flow passes through successive filters, leaving only the cleansed residue fit to print. Recorded at the University of Texas.
The current period could be dubbed The Age of Anger. To drive ratings up and along with them, ad revenue there’s nothing like rage. People go to their favorite media outlet as if it were comfort food. Where their views are validated and reinforced. And their anger finds a home. Argu-tainment is the order of the day and boy does it pay off. Corporate profits soar. Witness the comments of Leslie Moonves, former head of CBS, who cynically said, Donald Trump and his campaign “may not be good for America but it’s damn good for CBS. Man, who would have expected the ride we’re all having now? The money’s rolling in. I’ve never seen anything like this. Bring it on, Donald.”
With few exceptions the corporate mainstream media operate within very narrow parameters. In one corner you have MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow and in the other you have Fox’s Sean Hannity. And they do present contrasting views but the boundaries of discussion are limited. Certain topics are taboo, such as U.S. imperialism or really existing capitalism, not the wonders of the free market propaganda we're bombarded with. Deep institutional structures are never the focus of attention. Here and there people make mistakes and are called out. And tactics and policies are criticized but the overall framework of power remains intact and unchallenged. The corporate mainstream media fulfills its role as a cover for a system that is clearly failing for the many but benefits the few. But there are alternatives to the BS.
Edward Herman was an economist who taught at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. He was also highly skilled at exposing media lies, fabrications and propaganda. He was the author of many books, including Beyond Hypocrisy, The Real Terror Network, The Politics of Genocide and The Myth of the Liberal Media. He was author with Noam Chomsky of Manufacturing Consent, one of the most influential books on the media ever written. He passed away in November 2017 at the age of 92.
Matt Taibbi is an award-winning journalist and a contributing editor for Rolling Stone. He is the author of Griftopia and Hate, Inc.
Jeff Cohen founded Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR) , the New York-based media watch group in 1986. He was founding director of the Park Center for Independent Media at Ithaca College, where he was an associate professor of journalism.
Janine Jackson is FAIR’s program director and producer/host of FAIR’s syndicated weekly radio show CounterSpin. She contributes frequently to FAIR’s newsletter Extra!