By Dave Stancliff
Surprise! The corporate media doesn’t always give us straight unbiased news. The fear factor plays an integral part in it’s presentations. Look at who owns different TV networks, newspapers, or radio stations, that report on the same events. Each owner’s bias can be detected. Political agendas and capitalistic greed merge to blur people’s perceptions.
For example , listen to a Fox News report about a speech by President Obama.. Then flip the channel to MSNBC for their version. Even a casual observer can see the difference.
I know this is nothing new. What bothers me is that the news content is no longer just sandwiched with subtle subliminal messages like in the old days. They’re overt now. Political posturing comes from pundits disguised as newscasters. As popular as rock stars, they are polarizing the country.
Right and Left wing political stars clash like titans over ideology. People watch, listen, and read trash that passes as news. Here’s a thought: if there were no audience, there would be no clowns posing as unbiased messengers of news. Legitimate straight news carriers would soon become dominant. Wouldn’t that be nice? I think people could tell the difference, don’t you?
Influencing public opinion via the media is nothing new. Nazi propagandist Joseph Goebbels was a master at controlling the German media’s messages.
After the Nuremberg trials Hitler’s second-in-command Hermann Goering told reporters, “Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. This is easy. All you have to tell them is that they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works in every country.” This sums up the politics of fear and what happened under the Bush administration for the last eight years.
By reporting on some subjects, and purposely not covering others, American news organizations have slowly spoon-fed the public their political and ad-driven agendas from the start. The shift from reporting straight news to injecting opinions has been a slow devious process stretched over decades.
For example , Swine Flu has had a lot of coverage. It’s nothing more than a tempest in a teapot. “Fear this...” was the implied message. From the start, the press seized this story like a pit bull and chewed on it for all it was worth. After a while, it became apparent Swine Flu was no worse than any other bug that makes us sick. More people die from smoking cigarettes.
With only 30 something deaths nationwide (according to a June report from the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta) since the first reports of Swine flu, it’s easy to see this bug hasn’t had much of an impact on the majority of the population. Look at the coverage it’s gotten, and still gets. They’re capitalizing on fear.
Fear sells. If there’s any doubt of that just look at the horror movies made every year with titles like “Drag Me to Hell.” Record numbers of viewers turn out to be terrified by graphically realistic slasher films. The American public is used to fear.
For the last eight years the Bush Administration took advantage of that. They used fear to take away our rights and wiretap our conversations without due process of law. With both politics and entertainment promoting fear, we’ve become a nation of fear junkies. Look at the TV ratings for fear-based programs. They’re very popular. Since the 2008 presidential election, fear and hate have been in the forefront of the news. Most hate groups, experts tell us, are concerned about the economy and fear immigrants are taking their jobs. A black president is a big issue with white supremacist groups. They fear change.
Brian Levin, Director of the Center for Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University, San Bernardino, recently told the press that despite the intensified rhetoric from hate groups, there is no evidence that hate crimes are on the increase. He said there was no compelling reason to be afraid of these groups.
If anything, Levin pointed out, data collected from many jurisdictions across the country show a stability and even a decrease in hate groups. According to the FBI, hate crimes in the United States have declined in 2008 for the fourth straight year.
While it may be true that the internet is full of people spewing hate, there are no statistics to prove they increasingly act out. Hate groups will always be with us. It’s the American way to let everyone have their say. Let’s face it, there’ll always be someone who isn’t happy with the way this country is run.
It has also become the American way for news organizations to raise ratings through the use of fear and political posturing. All too often, stories are slanted to scare the public without giving viewers, readers, and listeners the whole story. We must sort through them like junk dealers to see if they are trash or truth.
As It Stands, remember fear produces adrenaline, which can be addictive over time.