13 Days in Media Captivity - Could Anyone Survive?
W. David Jenkins III firstname.lastname@example.org
I don't pretend to be the smartest person in the world. I write what I feel and do my best to keep things at gut level. I try my best to say in one sentence what others can take a paragraph or six to say. Sometimes I'm right and sometimes I'm way off. But I'm just a normal, ticked off guy with an opinion like everybody else and, based upon reader response; I guess I'm doing okay.
Along with not being the smartest person in the world comes the problem of being computer technology challenged. Three weeks ago I called tech support for my computer to find out why the new CD-Rom hardware I installed wasn't working. I was told to perform what's called an IDE write. If anybody ever tells you to do one, don't. It writes zeroes to your hard drive thus erasing everything. And I mean everything.
So there I was the proud owner of a $1200 paperweight with no access to information other than what the media chose to tell me. I spent 13 days with tech support trying to get the thing up and running again. I began having withdrawals. I would see Bobby Goldsboro in my dreams singing, "Honey" to a hard drive. I was a wreck.
I've made many snide remarks about the media in the past, but it's been a long time since I've been at their complete mercy and after the 13 days I spent exclusively with CNN, MSNBC and C-SPAN I have no intention of taking any of those snide remarks back.
Keep in mind this time period started a few days after Sheriff Bush made his remarks concerning the "Axis of Evil." There he was struttin' his stuff knowing full well that any unrest he caused in the world would be handled by others. Any conflicts he might cause would be dealt with by those with more backbone than he had during Viet Nam. And almost immediately Bush's babysitters were out in full force trying to explain that he didn't mean to refer to the WWII version of "axis." Oh stop already, he did too. Okay, maybe he didn't but whoever wrote the script for him did.
Thirteen days of so-called news without any real information is something I wouldn't wish on anybody. When the Enron hearings were coming to the headlines both the right wing and the media were practically petulant in their insistence that Enron gave money to the Democrats too. But what everybody kept failing to point out was the obvious preference Enron gave to the GOP. That coupled with president Cheney's "You can't see 'em, nyeah, nyeah, nyeah, nyeah" attitude concerning the release of information concerning energy policy influences, well, the whole thing stinks to high heaven. But nobody seemed to want to talk about that. Michael Moore and James Carville seemed to be the only people with a handle on the bottom line. Yes, Enron gave money to both parties but over three quarters of it went to the GOP. In fact, Carville summed up Enron's right wing bias quite nicely. Using a baseball score to make his point he stated that if the score is 76 to 24, you sure as heck don't call it a "tie."
Things only got worse as my 13 day sentence went on. Bush posing with New York City firefighters telling them, again, that "help was on the way" while everybody smiled pretty and patri-idiotic for the cameras. Of course, there's no extra money for NYC in the proposed federal budget but wasn't that a great photo-op? No wonder Dubya's so popular! Never mind that many if not most of the cyber polls have been "freeped" while the rest of us scratch our heads wondering why nobody except us has picked up on this. Then I had the pleasure of listening to John Fund's opinion on foreign policy and terrorism on one of the "news" channels. I kept wondering like I do when I see Oliver North "Why the devil aren't you in jail?"
And apparently, based on Dubya's speeches before controlled audiences in various red zones, we are celebrating a "victory" in Afghanistan. Never mind that we haven't caught anybody on the hit list (bin Laden who?). Never mind that much of the fall of the Taliban is due to the efforts of the Northern Alliance. They were the ones actually getting dirty over there. Never mind that they also have mastered the time honored tradition of bribing leaders and other members of the opposition forces to their side. Hey, it beats getting shot at. Never mind that interim Afghan leader, Hamid Karzai is more than just a little nervous about being left to fend for himself. Seems the guy's a tad bit concerned that what's left of his country is far from being stable. I don't know what he's worried about. Rumsfeld has pledged to do his best to help Karzai establish an Afghan army when he can get some spare time. Besides, we have more important things to do in the Philippines!
That's right. The media dutifully broadcast our next stop in the war against terrorism. Ah, the bands, the waving flags, the grandeur of it all! Of course the citizens of this tropical paradise were about as pleased to see us come as the people of Pakistan were. But never mind the voices of protest! We've deployed 660 American troops to rid Basilan of about 60 murderous thugs we like to call "terrorists." I mean, we have to call them that. That's what this Crusade is all about. Never mind that the governor of Basilan, Wahab Akbar is reported to have supported this little rag tag group known as Abu Sayyaf. Never mind that there is evidence that even the Philippine army nurtured the group in the early 1990's. We needed another one of them thar "victories" to keep peoples' minds off of the Enron White House.
Between the lame jingoism that passes for journalism these days, along with "freeped" poll numbers, it's no wonder that Bush is so popular with the uninformed masses. Witnessing for those thirteen days just how much the media has transformed into a willing propaganda tool for the suspect foreign policies of Bush Inc. was chilling to say the least. From the convenient release of pro-military films out of Hollywood to Heartland Music's release of patriotic songs to "warm your heart with pride." From Dubya's invitation-only "town meetings" to Wolf Blitzer's admonition of a viewer to "get over" the farce that was Election 2000, the media machine has become a monster that would make Joseph Goebbels proud.
I had never realized just how important having access to information was. It's something I think that we seem to take for granted sometimes. The Internet has taken over the position cable television used to hold as a primary source of information for many of us. Web sites like Democrats.com and others offer a wealth of information and editorial content which help to remind us that we are not alone. To be without it is not a good feeling. Kind of like being constantly lied to.
Don't believe me? Go ahead and turn your computer off for a week. Let the media feed you what they feel you need to know. Go ahead.
I dare you.