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|SoCalDem (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore||Fri Feb-20-04 11:14 PM
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|46. Verbal Assassins|
The New Assassins
Poor Jack Kennedy, Poor Martin Luther King, Poor James Meredith, Poor Malcolm X, Poor Bobby Kennedy...and so many others who were "under the radar", and we never even knew ..
People who dare to speak out are always in fear for their lives, and those named paid the ultimate price for their "free speech".
Had they lived now, in a more "evolved" time, they might have never had to die for their audacity. People who made waves back then were just "dealt with" in the crudest, but most effective way of the day......elimination.. Everyday people were stunned, shocked, saddened, outraged, and then they moved on. Daily life has a way of taking over, and except for a poignant "anniversary" acknowledgment, or the recurring "conspiracy talk", these people just passed into history as tragic figures.
Those assassinations did serve a purpose though. The message sent was loud and clear. Say the Wrong thing, and you are DONE.
In the "modern" world, although there are still assassination attempts here and there, the "serious" ones are not as common . A more efficient way of handling "rogue elements" is the new and improved way...Assassination by Media is the more accepted way now. If one looks back to the period following the Bobby Kennedy assassination, you can see it taking root. Bobby's slaying might have been the straw that broke the camel's back, in that people were ready to say..ENOUGH!!. People took to the streets and things got too "messy" for the old ways to ever work again.
Flash forward to the Watergate era. At first the story dribbled out and people did not pay a lot of attention, but the Washington Post knew they had a story and they kept at it like a junkyard dog. They challenged BIG GOVERNMENT, and they never quit. When the story finally got the attention of the general public, and Nixon was taken down, the press was bolder than ever before.
This was the era of the "white paper".... 60 Minutes was the very embodiment of "make them accountable".. They went after sleazy business practices and governmental screw-ups, and they hit hard.The show they do today is more "individual driven", and is pure tabloid journalism when compared to the way they started. The targets of their "investigation" are often beleaguered people who are already overextended financially by lawsuits or other problems, so they are probably less likely to sue, or they are the pathetic , sympathy-inducing people who have been "done wrong".
Behind the scenes though, there was a group of people who were seething with anger over what had just happened, and they were determined to get things "under control again". This was the beginning of media consolidation. Towns that had once had 2 or 3 competing newspapers, now had only one, television was still the "big three", Republican Think Tanks were sprouting up like toadstools after rain.
Jimmy Carter's tenure was the "test case" for what would come later. This gentle man was attacked in the press for every little thing. The Nixon hangover may have been partly to blame, since people were genuinely more interested in what went on "behind the curtain", but the things that Carter was berated about were just plain silly..Who remembers the "lusting in his heart" episode...or the "attack of the killer bunny".. or the "he wears sweaters in the oval office".."turn down your thermostats"...or "Amy is so ugly".. Those were the memes of the day.. The press chose to amplify these things to make this man appear to be a lightweight. The real problems he encounters as president were things not of his making, and It think he did try to solve them, but with only one term, and the difficulties of the first "oil crisis", and the "hostage thing", he was doomed..
Nightline was born out of the frustration of the hostage crisis. That show started as a one hour news program with a daily update on the hostages.
A rootin-tootin Dubya would have just saddled up (other people's kids) and attacked Iran, and if the hostages were killed, it would have been "collateral damage", but Carter thought he could negotiate them home. This was our first real experience with the "new middle east". They were radical.. They were mad.. They were Bad.The old ways would never work again. Oddly enough, we now know that some of the very same people we associate with the Reagan/Bush , Bush # 1, and Bush # 2 regimes were involved , behind-the scenes , in the Iran Hostage issue.. At the time, I do not recall hearing their names mentioned when Nightline went on night after night, enumerating the "days since....".
The press attacked Carter relentlessly, and I do not recall much rallying on his behalf from anyone, and the hostage crisis did him in. It was not accidental that the hostages were released at the exact moment of Reagan's swearing in. Bush 1 had CIA connections, and the Bush loyalists (the same ones we have now) choreographed the incident masterfully, and the press ate it up. People love a winner, and Reagan came in as a winner. It was also no accident that doing away with the fairness doctrine was high on the list of "things to do".
The republicans were riding high, awash with money, and the public gaze was averted. Inflation was rampant,unemployment was high,there had been wage & price freezes and gas shortages... All in all, people were willing to "be taken care of", and they trusted the grandfatherly guy they had seen in the movies. It was not long before the doctrine was gone, and without that, it was easy for very rich ideologues to start buying up media , and they did it with a vengeance.
Looking back, it's not hard to see how effective it was. The things that have been attributed to Reagan/Bush 1 would have never been tolerated by a Democratic administration.The Clinton years showed us that , in spades.
The switchover was seamless too. Local radio stations had mostly been music, with local hosts who did silly home town pranks, held local contests for their listeners, and had news on the hour. Somewhere during this time frame, "talk/opinion" formats started really emerging, and more and more stations gave up their music formats altogether.
What better way is there to ensure that a particular opinion saturates the public, than to have local radio stations all under the same corporate ownership?. If station ABCD in Omaha is owned by the same parent company as most of the others in the area, the "movement" between stations will not happen. In the past, a radio host could get into a jam with his bosses, and the next week, he was on a competing station in a nearby town, taking a lot of his listeners with him, but when the same people own all the stations, and a host goes against the wishes of his bosses, there is NOWHERE for him to go. The atmosphere of "go-along-to-get-along" stifles any real discussion of opposing ideas.
When the major source of information of a population only airs ONE viewpoint, it's easy to demonize the opposition. The "media people" had , and still have, easy access to their own "facts" that are regularly churned out by the think tanks, they have access to all the "professional speakers/pundits" that they could ever use (also cheerfully provided by the think tanks). These same people are often editorial columnists for the papers , who just happen to be owned by the same people who own/operate the radio & TV stations.. .
There was a time when, once an election was over, people just licked their wounds, accepted that they had lost and then vowed to try again. The "new assassins" in the media cannot ever allow the "quiet time" between elections, because the fires must always be stoked. The potential adversaries must be ridiculed,belittled,scorned, accused and abused, well in advance of the next election so that the "right" people win. The unusual aspect of this , is that since the Fairness Doctrine went by the wayside, it's usually the Democratic candidates who are put through the grinder, while republican candidates with more "baggage" are treated with kid gloves. Any misgivings about a republican candidate can be explained away as a "youthful indiscretion", or a "cute colloquialism" ,or a "miscalculation", or "getting inaccurate advice", and so many more.
A candidate who has all the qualities necessary for office, is attacked mercilessly from the moment they announce they are running for office. The 24/7 media of today is expert at the art of "linguistic assassination", and they have the time to do the job well.
Election 2000 is a prime example of assassination by media. Al Gore was a vice president. He did not wield the power that our current vice president does. He had impeccable credentials, was eloquent, had a squeaky clean family life, and lived modestly considering his position. He was actually considered dull. He never presented himself as a "life-of-the-party" guy.He was the studious guy, who read bills before he voted. He was the guy who did research. He was the guy who actually went to Viet Nam , even though he was not a Green Beret with a bayonet between his teeth, singlehandedly wiping out a division of Viet Cong.The fact is ..He went.
They hammered at him about his wardrobe. Every little gaffe, was portrayed as a LIE. His opponent was secretive, smart-assed, sullen, and unknowledgeable, yet HE was portrayed as "a bit rough", "a nice guy that you would like to have a beer with", " a friendly "people-person", and too many others to list. By implication, HE was the guy with the white hat, the Good Guy, and poor old Gore was the liar with the bad fashion sense, who was dull. The daily indictment and litany of his "sins" was impossible to ignore, and every interview started and finished with him trying to refute the smears aimed at him, and him alone.
The assassins have taken aim this election season, and have wounded, if not killed, a few of the possible candidates. The media has moved from a position of watching what happens, and then reporting on it, to MAKING it happen, and then tweaking it to make an ever-better "story"..
The little known governor from a small state ..hmm that sounds familiar... is such a good story. Howard Dean was this cycle's John McCain. The press loved him.....until they had built him up to almost rock-star status, and then the only thing for them to do to get more ratings, was to "kill" him. And so they did.. They report with childlike wonder at why "he's not doing better in the polls", and then they laugh and giggle and "cue up the tape".. Then they put on their scrunched up worried face and wonder if the campaign is broke.. They are "so concerned".. They cluck-cluck to each other about how disappointing it is to see him not doing well, and yet they have already reloaded for the next victim.
Now on to the next willing contestant, John "Botox" Kerry.
By the time the election actually occurs, the candidate has been hopelessly smeared, and politically assassinated.. It not only can remove a candidate from the prospect of elected office, but it effectively silences them as well.
Assassination by media is so much more effective, since the whole "martyr thing" is eliminated and it's not nearly as "untidy" as the old way..
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