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Downpour Of Media Cliches Threatens To Flood Nation

an article in FAIR by Jeff Cohen and Norman Solomon

(our site's article review)

Was Newt Gingrich's takeover of the Speaker of the House position a revolution or a public relations campaign?
Was Newt Gingrich's takeover of the Speaker of the House position a revolution or a public relations campaign?

This 1995 article was just after Newt Gingrich's takeover of the Speaker of the House position in Congress. It looks at media BS where instead of news reporting during the first 10 days of this year — U.S. newspapers kept telling us that Newt was running a "revolution", and this was found in over 270 articles while reporting on Gingrich's wonderful new Republican revolution. Since when is conditioning the public (like mice in Skinner boxes) with inaccuracies, slanted speech, and loaded buzzwords "news"? The difference between public relations campaigns and in-depth, accurate reporting of real news is that the former is simply fed to various news outlets who print it because they are too busy or lazy to find any newsworthy story via actual, honest news reporting, while the latter separates the wheat from the chaff and reports on the actual facts of the situation.

Skinner box
Skinner box

The news media tells us good ol' Newt is leading a "revolution." The authors tell us that "If the Republicans are igniting a 'revolution,' it must be the first one in world history aimed at giving the entrenched interests that run the country still more entrenched power. Since when is it a 'revolution' to make things even more cushy for the wealthy and powerful, while making the rest of us even more vulnerable to their prerogatives?" As the oligarchy laughs, the gods weep, and the public ought to be weeping.

Big media corporations are one segment of oligarchy powers, exposing the ruse of a free press
Big media corporations are one segment of oligarchy powers, exposing the ruse of a free press

Freedom of the press mostly implies the absence of interference from an overreaching state, except for "national security." A free press is what America seems to have, since it is not controlled by the powers-that-be. Or isn't it? The big media corporations ARE one segment of these powers. The mainstream press is the voice of the corporatocracy, AKA the oligarchy. (See The US is an oligarchy, study concludes.)

The alternative press is the marginalized press, that challenge the status quo, the party line, and the corporatocracy. Alternative media often have it as their stated aim to be challenging existing powers, to be representing marginalized groups, and to be fostering horizontal linkages among communities of interest. Proponents of alternative media argue that the mainstream media are biased in the selection and framing of news and information. How could any thinking citizen ever doubt this? Corruption and bias and deception are often quite obvious to even the least thoughtful Americans. However, most Americans are too depressed by all this to do anything about it, e.g., become activists.

It is very useful for a democracy to have a website like FAIR that is willing to attempt to separate truth from fiction and point it out to us when the Emperor wears no clothes!
It is very useful for a democracy to have a website like FAIR that is willing to attempt to separate truth from fiction and point it out to us when the Emperor wears no clothes!

Cohen and Solomon have a very good point about adding power to the wealthy and powerful being anything but a revolution. (It would be more accurate to see the oligarchy's power grabs as a revolution of the rich against the remaining wealth, rights, and freedoms of the middle class.) It is very useful for a democracy to have a website like FAIR that is willing to attempt to separate truth from fiction and point it out to us when the Emperor wears no clothes! Now if we could only get the news outlets to cease being mere mouthpieces for the powers-that-be and start doing what FAIR does: investigate the truth of the situation and report THAT rather than political press releases oozing with slanted speech, incorrect ideas, loaded buzzwords, misrepresentations, bias, and BS!

We need news networks to investigate the truth and report THAT rather than political press releases oozing with slanted speech
We need news networks to investigate the truth and report THAT rather than political press releases oozing with slanted speech

The newspapers told us there is a REVOLUTION. But FAIR told us the truth: there is only political flapdoodle afoot—no revolution in sight. It's sort of like when you see a car ad that promises a whole new experience of driving—a revolution in the act of car utilization. They are merely trying to get you to see the new models in a positive light in spite of the fact we all know the new and old models are virtually identical—the opposite of a revolution!

A car ad promises a revolution in driving, but it's the opposite of a revolution, it's the same old stuff
A car ad promises a revolution in driving, but it's the opposite of a revolution, it's the same old stuff

So when the campaigns paint their same old political stances with pretty new colors, news outlets would be best to see the ad, the public relations hype, the flapdoodle—and not collude with this misinformation campaign. Of course, there are some left leaning outlets that do bother to ridicule the sows ear masquerading as a silk purse, pointing out that good ol' Newt truly is a revolutionary and a legend—but only in his own mind.

No wonder the public seems so confused and nothing ever changes. They're choking on misinformation that comes their way via political manipulation of citizens and via the Culture War!
No wonder the public seems so confused and nothing ever changes. They're choking on misinformation that comes their way via political manipulation of citizens and via the Culture War!

There's a bright note here. However stale the hyperbole and business as usual the P.R. releases disguised as news are, and however prone the news outlets are to colluding with political intentions to misinform and mislead the public, one thing they cannot distort in any way, shape or form: when the P.R. releases disguised as news end up on the printed page, these papers make excellent and extremely practical bird cage liners. Too bad the slanted TV news "reports" themselves cannot join them there where they belong! See FAIR.

Newspapers full of P.R. releases disguised as news make excellent and extremely practical bird cage liners
Newspapers full of P.R. releases disguised as news make excellent and extremely practical bird cage liners