Piercing the Media Veil

I sit at the Epicenter. Spot-lit, back-lit, wire up my torso, microphone clipped to my lapel, tiny speaker wedged into my ear. An unseen producer, in a sound-proof booth, tells me to stop talking, to listen to the moderator who just interrupted me.

None other than Chuck Todd, of NBC News, shares the spotlight, his earpiece connecting him with a producer in a booth, feeding Chuck pithy rhetorical tidbits he uses to increase his stature and diminish mine. Being interviewed by him, being politically conservative, I’m getting grilled pretty good, feeling suddenly and terribly ill at ease, I ask inside my swirling head … How did I get myself into this?… yet here I am, on television, thanks to modern technology, in front of the world. At the Epicenter.

It feels like a dream, my brain teeters and rolls upon a listless vessel, and I grasp the rigging, searching for a needed phrase, while Chuck dissects my words, dances nimbly about me, and gives no quarter … Say, can’t I just rip this microphone from my lapel and walk away?… much as I may want to, it would look really bad, with lights ablaze and cameras rolling. I’m wired up, locked in place. And, people don’t just get up and walk out of televised interviews, not if they want to get invited back to the Epicenter, back to the spotlight, to sit, talk, be pampered and get paid for it … Wow! What a life! … or half a life. So, I sit here and absorb abuse from across this table. And when the cameras stop rolling and bright lights turn off, everyone’s so nice to me; we all go to the green room for yummy snacks, sparkling beverages and polite conversation … It’s worth it! … I say to my newly diminished self.

But wait! Just a minute! … suddenly, oddly enough, this exercise in “WHAT IF?” is different … now old Chuck and I are sitting on different sides of the table between us. With an unseen producer telling me how cleverly to express myself and telling a shell-shocked Chuck to shut up and take it, or else he’ll be banished from the lights … well, now … I look across this table and say, “Listen here, Chuck, you cretinous windbag, if you were an objective truth seeker, your interviews would be about your guests, and what they have to say, and how that stacks up against the perceived truths and realities of your audience. But you don’t allow for that, do you? … No! You don’t! … You don’t seek the truth, and you’re not really a journalist. You’re a liberal activist with a political agenda, all the while promoting your own status and celebrity. What a charlatan you are! What a sham this is!”

Now, that … Man, oh man! … would be something to write home about.

A most entertaining bit of hocus pocus comes to light in the classic Hollywood film, The Wizard of Oz; wherein Dorothy’s little dog Toto pulls away a curtain to reveal that the ‘all powerful’ Wizard of Oz is actually a diminutive old man, manipulating a bunch of levers and switches that create the illusion of a wizard, when in reality, none exists. The so-called ‘Wizard’ has only as much greatness and power as others attribute to him. Without his magisterial illusion, and the willing subjugation of his audience, the man behind the curtain is, in truth, rather ordinary.

What’s this got to do with Chuck Todd?… you may ask.

Piercing the media veil is much like exposing a fraudulent wizard who’s not all he claims to be. Old Chuck and others like him, denizens of the Liberal Media Complex, exert tremendous influence over public perception of what is real and what is not. These media types share stories about people and events that purportedly warrant our attention; they also suggest, by way of omission, which people and events do not warrant concern. Undergirding all this is the antiquated notion … If it isn’t on TV, then it didn’t really happen … and astonishing as it may seem, many people still believe that. They’ve never had a Toto pull back the media’s curtain to reveal that without the hidden levers, switches and resulting illusion, Chuck and his media cohorts are just people—with their own foibles, desires, prejudices, superstitions—and surprisingly ordinary.

The Liberal Media Complex, and the denizens who dwell therein, have only as much power and influence as we allow them—a sobering thought. All we need do is pierce their veil, pull it back, and acknowledge the wizardry for what it is.

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A Brief History of a Rigged System

Call them the ‘Bovine Media.’ They graze, walk and sometimes stampede as a herd. They seek safety in numbers and, when combined, have considerable weight to throw around. As with any herd, stragglers occasionally wander from the beaten path. Most return. But not all. Brit Hume never did. He became frustrated by the Washington press corps’ soft-shoe treatment of President Bill Clinton; a press corps that had just spent twelve years kicking two Republican presidents in the teeth. When Fox News offered Hume a way out, he took it – wise move – and didn’t look back.

I recall, from memory, a bit of political coverage by Sam Donaldson, one of the bovine bulls of yesteryear. It aired on ABC during President Ronald Reagan’s 1984 re-election campaign. The President took an old-fashioned ‘whistle-stop’ tour around the country, to give speeches and meet ‘average folks’ along the way. As I recall, Donaldson’s coverage focused on everyday citizens being inconvenienced by Mr. Reagan’s train moving through their towns and villages; as well as how difficult it was for some to get a glimpse of the President due to tight security surrounding him (the same President who had been shot and nearly killed three years earlier). The network’s story had little, if anything, to do with the message, most likely heartfelt, that Mr. Reagan shared with those whom he met and spoke to along the way.

When President Clinton ran for re-election in 1996, he also went on a ‘whistle-stop’ tour. His journey also got coverage from the Bovine Media. I don’t recall which of the three major broadcast networks I was watching that summer evening (of little consequence, really, since, like cattle, they’re comprised of similar parts), but the network’s coverage was sympathetic toward Mr. Clinton, focusing on his desire to connect with average Americans. At one point, Mr. Clinton stood gazing from his rail car, and commented introspectively on how that train tour reminded him of why he ran for president in the first place. This purported piece of journalism ran more like a campaign commercial, on behalf of the President, who came across in the network’s intimate portrait as a swell guy, deserving of admiration and support.

This historical illustration of media favoritism, seemingly tame by today’s standards, reflects a larger landscape upon which America’s political discourse occurs. For decades, and counting, a liberally dominated media class has favored Democrats over Republicans, and, along the way, promoted a leftist ideology. This year is certainly no different. CNN’s Jake Tapper, NBC’s Chuck Todd, ABC’s Martha Raddatz, among a herd of others, are each more politician than journalist, and both interchangeable and predictable in their bovine mentality, as they provide an ongoing, institutionalized disservice to American voters.

Is the system rigged? … What do you think?