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babylonsister Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-04-11 06:54 AM
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Intellectual Prostitution and the Myth of Objectivity
Edited on Mon Apr-04-11 06:55 AM by babylonsister /

Intellectual Prostitution and the Myth of Objectivity
Posted on Apr 3, 2011
By Christopher Ketcham

In this rotten business of freelance magazine writing theres almost no assignment in which the issue of objectivity fails to rise up like the miasma it is. Any writer who puts his mind on the matter knows that no human being is objective, which is the reason writers sit down at the page in the first place. The writer, an inherently subjective force, will not be divorced from the writing, though God knows there are quacks in the news business who are trying. Computers might achieve this end. Also, certain types of house cats are objective: They know exactly what the truth is, and it is them.

So whence the delusional obsession with objectivity in the journalism schools and the pages of the Gray Lady et al.? The pretense and veneer of objectivity is the goal. This renders idiot mistakes and outright falsities so much easier to sell to the public. After all, the marketer of the junk is presented as the all-seeing eye, an authority no less unerring than the babblers at Delphi, no less the product of superstition. Whether we like it or notwhether we recognize it or notthe culture credits objectivity in the journalistic establishment as the product of powers greater than known. The news-clown jabbers on screen, says this or that is so ... and, lo, it is so. More likely its All the News Thats Shit to Print.

Lets not forget that this sleight of hand gets innocent people killed and maimedsee The New York Times objective coverage of the run-up to the invasion of Iraq.
If theres a lesson here, its that whenever you hear of governments and organizations fomenting, preparing for or making war, be prejudiced on the side of peace; this is un-American, I know. Whenever you hear a government spokesman speak, your objective assessment should be that hes lyingthis is only logical consistency. Be prejudiced, in fact, against persons associated with organizations large or small, be they members of government, private industry or a block association. Be biased in favor of the lone man against whatever or whoever colludes against men acting alone. For my part, Ill take the word of the skankiest street hustler over the police commissioner, the buzzing of the gnat over the scream of the 10 gorillas.


In this regard, John Swinton, who worked at The New York Times and The New York Sun and in various writing gigs from the 1860s to the eve of the 20th century, reminds us that its always been about selling copies, that this business of news is just that. Swinton, on a night of drinking with his colleagues in 1880, was asked to make a toast to the independent press. He stood up and famously answered: There is no such thing, at this date of the worlds history, in America, as an independent press. You know it and I know it. There is not one of you who dares to write your honest opinions, and if you did, you know beforehand that it would never appear in print. I am paid weekly for keeping my honest opinion out of the paper I am connected with. Others of you are paid similar salaries for similar things, and any of you who would be so foolish as to write honest opinions would be out on the streets looking for another job. The business of the journalist is to destroy the truth, to lie outright, to pervert, to vilify, to fawn at the feet of mammon, and to sell his country and his race for his daily bread. You know it and I know it, and what folly is this toasting an independent press? We are the tools and vassals of rich men behind the scenes. We are the jumping jacks, they pull the strings and we dance. Our talents, our possibilities and our lives are all the property of other men. We are intellectual prostitutes.
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Peace Patriot Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-04-11 10:34 AM
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1. I agree that the "objectivity" of the corpo-fascist press is non-existent--and worse.
It is a delusion. It FOOLS people. That is its worse crime, truly--not just that it propagates goddamned lies and thus helps to smash the "common good" to pieces, but that it does so in the GUISE of "objective" journalism, which makes it extremely difficult for most people to penetrate.

I do think that "objective Journalism" was an EFFORT of some news organizations and some journalists, over many decades, to create a standard of news reporting--and even opinion promulgation--that had "objectivity" as its goal but was never perfect and couldn't be. Thus, we had fairly objective reporting of the Vietnam War and of the civil rights movement during the 1960s era. We also had the Fairness Doctrine during that era--a policy that directly affected only broadcast journalism, but indirectly affected print journalism. The TV/radio airwaves are PUBLIC property and are regulated in virtually every country on earth. In the '60s era in the U.S., they were strongly regulated with the goal of producing politically neutral news coverage, wide spectrum public debate and public service broadcasting, and these standards in broadcast journalism influenced print journalism. Overall, the goal was to SEPARATE corporate profit motives FROM the conveyance of news and opinion. There were strict guidelines in most news organizations toward these ends which have been shot all to hell now--a phenomenon that began with the Reagan Junta's attack on the Fairness Doctrine. Another public good goal that has been attacked and lost is DIVERSITY--a ban on media monopolies. Now we have FIVE rightwing billionaires owning all the media in the U.S., and basically controlling all the media in the world.

Maybe "objectivity" never did exist and was always a "Big Lie." There were certainly some "black holes" in the news back then. You couldn't espouse "communism," for instance, in an "equal time" broadcast. The U.S. was doing terrible things in some places around the world--Africa, Latin America--that got little or no coverage (or very biased coverage). And I'd say that the American people were caught off guard by a number of events, including the JFK assassination and the Vietnam War, because of "black holes" in the news--forbidden subjects, like the CIA.*

HOWEVER, a "standard" WAS created. It wasn't perfect, by any means. But it reflected a goal of our society to provide the public with adequate information with which to participate in democracy. There were also "open meeting" laws and many other populist ideas about information that were current at that time and that were POLICY at that time. (All have been eroded or destroyed.)

What is SO disgusting about the "five billionaires" propaganda machine today--which includes EVERY major news outlet (the New York Slimes, the Associated Pukes, Rotters, the Miami Hairball, the Wall Street Urinal, the Washington Psst, the Economyst, Slime magazine, Newsweak, and the alphabet soup of TV/radio outlets including even the BBCons (on some subjects))--is that they are USING the standards developed in a different era, when "five billionaires" DIDN'T own every news outlet, to FAKE an objective tone today, and what is at stake today is HUGE--ultimately, the loss of Planet Earth itself and the END of the human race. THE END. FINI. KAPUT. The World Wildlife Fund gives us 50 years--at present levels of pollution and consumption--50 years to the DEATH of Planet Earth.

ALL OF OUR ENERGY, ALL OF OUR WITS, ALL OF OUR FOCUS should be on SAVING Planet Earth--and utterly changing capitalism and notions of "the marketplace" to make them compatible with LIFE. But what do these "five billionaires" focus us upon? War, to get them some more oil, to pollute yet more of the earth's oceans. Or some starlet's love life. It's nuts.

And they dare to call this shit "news"!

How they do it is by CORRUPTING this old "standard" of "objective journalism." To me--a writer--it is quite sickening. I find the New York Slimes sickening to read. The lies are very embedded, sometimes very hard to see. But it is all now a heavy-duty parade of lies, smeared over by FAKE "objectivity."


To specifically answer the cry of the OP--that no human being can be "objective" and that the GOAL of objectivity itself is fake--I don't agree, exactly. I think there is truth in this, but that the answer is VARIETY--lots of different views, lots of angles on news stories, very wide spectrum of opinion. Let PERSUASION be the rule, not MONOPOLY. Let DEBATE be the rule, not DICTATION. Let all ideas have their day. Let the people decide what is true and what isn't, what is wise and what isn't, what we should do, as a society, and what we shouldn't do.

That was Thomas Jefferson's notion of "free speech"--a rich variety of news and opinion. He even proposed government funding of newspapers (but not control of their content) to insure that business interests would NOT monopolize public discussion.

We, as a people, have to act to RECLAIM "free speech" for its true and vital function in democracy--let all ideas be heard and the "best" will rise to the top. But first we have to get rid of the 'TRADE SECRET' voting machines (a doable project) to get some leaders in office who will act in the public interest. We can't do anything else about this horror that I call the corpo-fascist media until we restore vote counting that everyone can see and understand. That's the bottom line of democracy--transparent vote counting--and we've lost it, and the corpo-fascist media has COLLUDED in that critically important loss.


(See "JFK and the Unspeakable: Why He Died and Why It Matters," by James Douglass. Highly recommended.)
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