Project "Censored 2012": Moving Beyond Media Reform
by Mickey Huff
As we approach the historically prophetic and now mass media-hyped "End of Times" year of 2012, hysterical speculation abounds. The failed prediction of a preacher in Oakland, California, who claimed the Rapture was upon us come May 21, 2011, was quite metaphoric as it exposed, yet again, how someone in American society is always able to captivate the corporate media by spinning doomsday yarns, whether it be Y2K or the upcoming 2012 end of the Mayan calendar (further manifest in the outpouring of Hollywood apocalypse films).
Though, to be clear, it is not merely the entertainment media that succumb to this lowest common denominator (fear sells), it is the news media as well, in the forms of Junk Food News and News Abuse (see chapter 3) and relentless power elite propaganda (see the Truth Emergency section of this volume).
In the realm of the "serious" traditional institutional news media in the US, increasingly, speculation masquerades as fact, gossip, and tripe stand in for analysis, and the titillating and inane trump the sober and sane. The ongoing corporate media feeding frenzy at the trough of the factually groundless and absurd has only intensified over the past decade, whether promulgating faux fears—from killer bee attacks to various flu viruses—or pushing nonexistent weapons of mass destruction and the Orwellian, nebulously defined yet unending War on Terror. Fear and innuendo rule the headlines of the day while tele- vision news programs are dominated by opinion journalism, empty technological displays, and elaborate computer graphics (perhaps casting the shadows in Plato’s cave). In short, for establishment "news" as we have known it in the last quarter of the twentieth cen- tury, it really is the "end of times," and no amount of "reform" attenuating the current commercially dominated system from the top down will likely resuscitate it, at least in journalistic terms.
That there is a crisis in journalism seems to be understood by many scholars and independent journalists, while many in the corporate media don’t seem to notice, or at least don’t mention it much. Further, they do not divulge much in terms of the challenges we face in the twenty-first century as the corporate media flood the airwaves with celebrity tales and misinformation. The overall so-called "mainstream" reporting in the United States is the equivalent to fiddling while Rome burns. And make no mistake, the US is an empire, and we are in decay. We the People of these United States already stand at a very real precipice—the potential end of what has been deemed the Great American Experiment, the institutional embodiment of human freedom protected by government of, by, and for the people. Meanwhile, the corporate media fill so-called news time with faux-angst, Astroturf platforms, cult-of-personality disorders, and one manufactured irrelevant crisis after another in what appears to be a Herculean effort to avoid telling the public what is really going on at home and abroad—with the economy, with the environment, in Afghanistan, Libya, or in Fukushima, Japan. In short, the establishment press in America is not telling people what is really going wrong and how, and what we can start doing about it as a society. The Fourth Estate is dead to the people.
America in the first decade of the twenty-first century is experiencing a decline of epic proportions in terms of the performance and accessibility of its economy, the efficacy of its civil institutions under constitutional law, and the ability to deliver the promise of what was known as the American Dream to all that strove for it in earnest. But, perhaps this is not so surprising given the recent past, at least for those that know it in spite of the fact that the so-called mainstream media in America has done a good deal to not report on what is really going on in the world, and at home. The late comic and critic George Carlin once said, "It’s called the ‘American Dream’ because you have to be asleep to believe it." Based on our current circumstances, Carlin’s quip seems sage.
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