I’m a history buff.
A history slut, more like. When it comes to things that interest me, I can always dive into a book of history and find something interesting, pull some arcane tidbit of knowledge from it’s dusty pages, and tout that nugget of obscure information about in a very pretentious way for the rest of my life. All times, really, interest me. I would like to tell you that it’s due to some noble desire, because “you never know where you’re going, until you know where you’ve been” or “those that forget the past are condemned to repeat it” or the like – but honestly, I very simply like reading about past times, with no ‘reason’ behind it to speak of.
One of the things that I’ve come across in my reading about the Apollo program, Vietnam, the assassination of JFK, and so on, is I became aware of Walter Cronkite. I’ve watched many of his more famous news moments (thank you Youtube) from the death of President Kennedy, John Lennon, Watergate, the Iran Hostage Crisis, covering the moon landings, and being in country in Vietnam. For an entire generation, if there was something newsworthy to report, ‘The most trusted man in America’ was there to report it, in his soothing 124 words per minute speech pattern. The level of faith that the average listener put into his reports were staggering to me. The most interesting story regarding him that comes to mind is about President Johnson.
Cronkite was in Vietnam investigating the aftermath of the 1968 Tet offensive, and on that trip, he had a dinner with General Creighton Abrams, whom he had already known from World War 2. According to witnesses, the general told Cronkite “we cannot win this goddamned war, and we ought to find a dignified way out.”
Cronkite came back to the states and delivered an editorial (in the month of February, no less) in which he all but said that the war was unwinnable. Sources vary at this point, but when the report had finished airing on television, President Johnson walked across the room, turned off the TV, and turned to look back at some members of his cabinet that had been viewing it with him. He sighed, and (reportedly) said “That’s it. If I’ve lost Cronkite, I’ve lost middle America.”
The reason that I talk (preach) about Cronkite is to underline in my eyes the enormity of our problem with the media in this day and age. I, myself, grew up watching Dan Rather and Tom Brokaw, but I still feel that they were trustworthy and wouldn’t put their names to something that they didn’t believe accurate and in keeping with journalistic integrity.
So, dear reader, answer me this.
What in the BLUE FUCK has happened between now and then?
In the past six months, I’ve had to sit through both MSN and FOX ‘news’ broadcasts, and it was in the course of doing so that I really was staggered by the implications of our current media system. Everything changed when the media moguls decided that selling the news wasn’t sexy, it wasn’t gripping. But if you pander to a specific crowd, put an ‘edginess’ into your broadcast, and sideline a few notions of ‘proper’ reporting, goddamn if you don’t have a goldmine on your hands.
The best topic to make into the sexiness they desired?
- It couldn’t be foreign affairs, of course. Americans don’t give a flying fuck about anything that happens outside our borders unless it directly effects us, to the tune of terrorists flying airplanes into our buildings for example. Beyond that, who gives a shit.
- It can’t be humanitarian stories, either. They learned that lesson in bold-type when Operations Restore Hope and Gothic Serpent fell on their asses in Somalia. The next morning, mutilated bodies of Americans were being dragged through the streets of Mogadishu on international television, and most Americans immediately asked “Where the fuck is Somalia?” and “Why the fuck were we there in the first place?”
- It couldn’t be religion.
.. Or could it?
Most would probably agree that the most white-hot buttons to press on someone involve politics and religion. But you can’t make religion out to be a dividing force in our country, as most ‘average’ Americans see this country as a bastion of Judeo-Christian morality and faith. You can’t tell the mob that their religious ideal isn’t what they think it is, no matter who you are. But politics? That’s an entirely different story altogether.
Think about it – growing up, I remember being told time and again before I was 12 that politicians are all liars, cheats, each out for themselves and attempting to screw -anyone- else on a government wide scale just to get to the proverbial pie first.
Well, them and lawyers, but we’re tackling one subject at a time her. Or not, but fuck you, it’s my blog, we’re on politicians.
Try to keep pace.
So, we’ve got our selling point – politics. And we’ve got a country that is split fairly well on both liberal and conservative leanings. So they took that idea that I had been raised to believe was reality – that all politicians are scum – and went national with it, only placing the blame upon specific targets. In the case of FOX, they went after the liberals.
They told you why they(liberals) are hurting you, why they are destroying the wholesome American dream with the politic of a Viking attack, and most important of all, who was to blame for it.
I honestly don’t know where to start here. Too much spite, so little time.
The fact that they’re still trying to convince people that we live in the 1950’s is perplexing. The fact that some of the people believe this to be fucking true fills me with confusion that borders on alarm.
And don’t get me wrong, FOX isn’t the only group that has the blame here. MSN is just as bad, only coming from a different fucking direction, because they saw what FOX was doing, and said “Hey, I can sell that.”
So now, when you see these jackals on television, pressed and dressed in a suit (or dress) that probably costs more than you make in a month, smiling at you and telling you in their pseudo-newscast the problems of our day, I want you to remember some things. Both sides are doing two things.
- Making you afraid of ‘it.’
- Telling you who’s to blame for ‘it.’
Lastly, when the jackass on the television is ranting about the conservatives fucking up the country, or the snide comments about liberals being so out of touch, ask yourself a question.
“What would have been the reaction if Cronkite had said shit like this?”