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Monday March 14, 2005

Independent press, an oxymoron?

In the last few months, American citizens have been brutally confronted with some of the seedier details of the state of modern journalism. First, the White House was caught paying off members of the media to publically support its agenda at the taxpayers expense. Then we learned of a man with no background in journalism (who also ran various pro-Republican causes and a gay prostitution website) being welcomed into official press briefings at the White House despite his lack of credentials. And finally, what we all knew years ago was confirmed: FOX News really is chock full of propaganda. (Link via Americablog)

After learning all of the shady details, is it logical to propose that independent journalism is a thing of the past, if it ever existed at all? And is it reasonable to feel manipulated?

I used to believe in the press as a kind of truth-seeking squad, whose sole purpose was to uproot every detail, good and bad, buried deep by the soiled hands of corrupt political operatives. If governments were misbehaving, the press would discover their dirty deeds and sound the alarms, sometimes despite the threat of great persecution. And, as usual, those who supported the governments would cry fowl and lob accusations of bias. But the press would soldier on and make darn sure the public was informed. After all, freedom of the press, like speech in general, is fundamental for the survival of democracy.

I had long believed that media bias existed somewhere; that journalists occasionally let their personal beliefs color their reporting, rendering their news articles as little more than editorials in drag. But I never believed the press got fat on the government payroll. Such was a product of communist countries, I thought, not the United States. Every morning I scanned the Plain Dealer with my bagel and orange juice to catch up on the "news." Now, I closely inspect every article and wonder suspiciously about how much of the crap in front of me was planted by the White House or filtered through its war rooms. I can't trust anything I read anymore. Has it always been this way? Was my truth-digging perception of the media really so naive?

Is there really such a thing as "news" anymore? Was there ever?

Addendum: A relevent link -


"Such was a product of communist countries...". This makes sense when you consider that many of the first-generation "neoconservatives" are disgruntled ex-Communists, mostly from the Trotskyite faction. Also, the opinion-shaping measures instituted by the USA's right wing were first used by the CIA in post-WW2 Europe to prevent the local Communist parties from gaining enough votes to take over peacefully. These techniques, in turn, were borrowed from--you guessed it--the Soviet Communists!

One of, perhaps the, main reason we lost an independent press is that, in the old days of the muckrakers, newspapers depended mostly on their customers for revenue. When advertisements came to form the main source of media income, not offending the business community--who buy most of the ads--became a top priority for newspapers and other media outlets.
Another is the phenomenon I touched on above: the well-planned and well-financed campaign to warp public opinion carried out by the conscienceless generation of vipers who compose the American right wing.

And also, of course, the dismaying and infuriating irrationality of a sufficient number of our fellow citizens who place less emphasis on their OWN SELF-INTEREST than on sticking it to them uppity coloreds, them uppity wimmin, them uppity queers, them uppity non-believers, them uppity furriners. Overlapping with these are the people who believe the official story about the 9/11 attacks, as I did until late 2002.
For dissenting opinions about the 9/11 attacks, see or the 9/11 section of

Thanks to the gullibility of a sufficient number of our fellow citizens--and/or those unaccountable "black box" voting machines manufactured by companies connected to the GOP (aka the Imperial Spendthrift Party, aka the Elephascist Party)--we are all Ned Beatty now.

Squealing louder, Monster from the Id

Monster from the Id on March 14, 2005 01:06 AM

Drina-diva, according to the times given, I posted my response before you posted the original comment!?!
Holy time warps, Batman!

From stately Wayne Manor, Monster from the Id

Monster from the Id on March 14, 2005 01:12 AM

Ah ha, when I was working on the post, I wrote about half, left it, then came back later to finish the rest. I decided to change the time on the post to when it was published, rather than when I first started writing it (which is the way Movable Type does it)... looks like I was an hour off... I'll fix it.

[When advertisements came to form the main source of media income, not offending the business community--who buy most of the ads--became a top priority for newspapers and other media outlets.]

I guess that's something I left out when pondering the current state of the media. Revenue does play a huge role in the way the press operates, from the advertisements to the kickbacks, and political perks that go along with promoting a specific agenda.

I just find it so ironic that a political wing that regularly derides its opposition as communist sympathizers would engage in such communist-like practices.

Drina on March 14, 2005 10:51 AM

Not so ironic, when so many of their "intellectual" members used to be Communists. I guess they only quit being Communists, not being totalitarians. Remember, Goebbels was a Communist before he became a Nazi.

From the Phantom Zone, Monster from the Id

Monster from the Id on March 14, 2005 12:12 PM

should have posted a (steph stop reading) again... hehehe

Your Old Roomie on March 14, 2005 06:05 PM

I figured you could use your own discretion.

Drina on March 14, 2005 07:46 PM

I have a bumper sticker that I got years says "the media are only as liberal as the conservative businesses that own them". Those words have never been more true.

It still amazes me that the media can have such a conservative bias (especially Fox) but still show the most absurd, sexually explicity, morally repugnant Television shows. I don't care one way or another if these shows are on tv, but their message is anything but consistent.

Jake on March 15, 2005 11:26 AM

Jake, the message may be inconsistent, but the purpose is always consistent: "MO' MONEY, MO' MONEY, MO' MONEY!"

From the Phantom Zone, Monster from the Id

Monster from the Id on March 15, 2005 03:04 PM

Jake, despite the fact that Christian fundamentalists have largely aligned themselves with the Republican party, the party itself is concerned less with following in the footsteps of Christ than attaining and wielding power. The pro-Republican, pro-sleeze nature of FOX may seem perplexing at first, but if you look at all of this in the context of power-seeking, then it's not all that hard to put together.

Monster, I agree completely.

Drina on March 15, 2005 08:13 PM