In his 1841 book, On Heroes and Hero Worshiping, Thomas Carlyle credited Sir Edmund Burke with the following quote:
“There were Three Estates in Parliament; but, in the Reporters’ Gallery yonder, there sat a Fourth Estate more important far than they all.”
Nothing has changed in 168 years. The press provides the view of the world in succinct bytes poetically waxed by attractive talking heads and those with an ability to read a teleprompter (another story) to a society all too concerned with time allocation and diminished attention spans.
Have we, as a society, surrendered our desire for truth and fair reporting in favor of 30-second sound bytes of buzz words and favoritism?
Yellow journalism has always been around just as press manipulation has been. After hearing of no confrontation in the build up to the Spanish American War, Hearst told his reporter “You provide me the pictures and I will provide the war”. This is exactly what he did. The quest for ratings was the driver even in the 1800s. Nevertheless, the quest was self-serving for the press and that is no longer the case.
As of late, the press has taken on a different, more nefarious role in the lives of the American public. It is that of surrogate spokesman for the current administration. Few challenge, few diverge from the path of praise. Our national press is an Obama fest of gigantic proportions. Even those who do challenge, challenge in a way that is timid and unworthy of the journalistic fundamentals of who, what, when, where and why. It becomes not what they say, but how they say it.
I gave up watching television news after the November elections. However, a few days ago, while waiting for a prescription to be filled, on the waiting room television; CNN was delivering a story “critical” of Obama’s current economic plan. I really did not even hear what they were saying because I was shocked about how it was being said. In reverent, almost timid tones, they were discussing Obama and this plan. The tone said it all. Do not question the man and be humbled before his greatness. Moreover, it was frightening.
It was frightening because the tone. The tonal praise of subservience. The media that want us to believe they are the watchdogs of truth and clarity. The media that assure us that they are unbiased – have surrendered integrity. We, the viewing public, are being subliminally infused with this tone. It is a velvety “Surrender Dorothy” with Dorothy being the critical thinking capacity of the average viewer. It was an epiphany while waiting for Claritan.
We can no longer depend on the Fourth Estate for truth. For they, as Carlyle pointed out, have a more important role than the government that we have entrusted to continue our Republic.
How do we free the chokehold that we willing supplicate to and they consistently supply?
note: I can’t get the cross post thing to work. 🙁 It is cross posted on my personal blog.