Welcome back. Today the Booby exposes some unspoken truths about the modern mainstream news media. It’s fitting, given that last week’s post looked at Neil Postman’s important book, Amusing Ourselves to Death. Today we’ll see Mr. Postman’s observations and prophecies come alive.
Where to start? Exposing the ideological filters through which the modern news media portrays the world is only too easy. Let’s take a look at some really egregious recent examples.
Yet another scandal has blackened the reputation of yet another major media outlet. Claas Relotius, a prominent reporter for Der Spiegel, was recently outed for having fabricated stories, something he had apparently been doing for years. His tactics included everything from inventing interviews with non-existent people to reporting false events. Invariably, he enjoyed portraying Americans – especially the white, male, and rural variety – as racists, xenophobes, uneducated, or what have you. A good many of these articles focused on the country’s internal debate about illegal immigration and the controversy over President Trump’s proposed border wall.
Not only is Der Spiegel one of the top German mainstream media outlets, but the offending reporter was once voted CNN’s journalist of the year, and was the winner of numerous other international awards. So why, for years, did no one catch on to what he was up to? Let the Booby explain, and hopefully you have already read his aforementioned review of Neil Postman’s book.
According to the left-wing Washington Post (just so no one accuses the Booby of relying on conservative news outlets), in one particular story Mr. Relotius simply regurgitated stereotypes of rural Americans as “provincial, gun-toting conservatives” and simultaneously invented details in order to push the publication’s ideology under the guise of journalism.
What the Washington Post does not elaborate on, however, is the fact that it was precisely because Mr. Relotius’ work was so overtly ideological that he was able to get away with his actions for so long. In other words, he would have fit in quite nicely at that very same American newspaper, which was itself exposed earlier for falsely reporting that Russian hackers infiltrated a major US utility, a story the paper had to retract in embarrassment.
A recent article from the Automatic Earth blog (read it here), whose members actually claim to “not particularly like” the current President, calls out the editors of Der Spiegel, and correctly so, for giving their journalists carte blanche to write anything they wish, so long as stories conform to the publication’s worldview, including its hatred for the President, but also for rural Americans, conservatives, and most likely blue collar white males in general. To quote:
The problem with all of this… is that all these news outlets are supposed to report the news, and none of them do anymore. They ‘report’ the opinions of their editors and ‘journalists’, and if these people don’t like whoever it is the American people elect as their president, it’s open season.
The Booby will take one exception with this grim prognosis . The writers from the Automatic Earth are only seeing half the story. Perhaps they need to read Neil Postman. It’s true that Der Spiegel is a far-left, albeit mainstream, media outlet, and it’s true that its editors no doubt lovingly accepted every fabricated story that Claas Relotius submitted to them. However, somewhere in the discussion the audience gets lost.
We forget that the people who subscribe to and faithfully read Der Speigel swing quite far to the left, just the same as its editors, and naturally wish to read that which confirms what they think they know, hear that which reinforces their feelings of moral superiority, and rationalizes their burning hatred for those of differing viewpoints. The editors of Der Spiegel weren’t feeding the audience anything it wasn’t already lining up to devour: hence, it is just entertainment, though presented as journalism.
Another recent example comes from the BBC. A most troubling exposé has recently emerged about the British network’s attempt to defame a major soccer tournament shared by Poland and Ukraine in 2012. After years of accusations that the BBC largely fabricated the story, an insider has now revealed how the BBC, and its journalist lackey, Chris Rogers, showed up in Poland with the expressed intent of portraying the locals as racist, violent, and unqualified to host a major sporting event. You can read the full story here, and the Booby recommends you do.
When no evidence of societal racism, or violent xenophobia could be found by the reporter or his entourage, they simply invented it. When the BBC’s “Stadiums of Hate” program finally aired it set off a firestorm of controversy, accusations, and objections from the governments of Poland and Ukraine. Tellingly, since then the BBC has coyly “taken pains to get copies [of the episode] off the internet.”
No matter. The audience loved it. The BBC got to portray itself as the hallowed cathedral of political correctness, the reporter and his entourage played their roles as high priests of tolerance and magnanimity, but most importantly the BBC’s audience got to squeal in delight at its own moral superiority, and ejaculate outrage at those unenlightened Easterners.
This, fellas, is what mainstream news media has become. It is entertainment for those who can’t get enough of their own self-adoration, and provides a soap box for narcissistic elites who grow spectacularly influential and wealthy by catering to that very audience. For every example of outright falsification, like those the Booby just shared, there are countless more examples of exaggeration, words taken out of context, and inconvenient facts that don’t make it into published stories.
Again, the words of Neil Postman are worth repeating: “The A-Team and Cheers are no threat to our public health. 60 Minutes, Eye-Witness News and Sesame Street are.”
As the Booby has cautioned again and again, the Western World has gone mad. There is today, as during countless other such periods in history, that power-mad moral majority whose members need to hate every bit as much as they need to feel superior. This is unfortunately part of the human condition. You may not be able to change it, but you can turn it off, shut it out, or best of all, seek out better – albeit less fashionable – company.
Via the entertainment media, it seems the callings of vainglory and rage are as irresistible today as ever, forming familiar choruses of masturbatory self-righteousness and ecstatic hostility. Avoid this buzzing hive, fellas, and its toxic honey of unearned self-esteem. It will beget you nothing but a tainted soul.
Most of all, don’t stop questioning everything you’ve been told, especially from those we’ve foolishly tasked to question for us.