Illusion in the Media
The Question: One of the greatest illusions of our day is that the press and various news services are impartial and deliver the news objectively. A couple decades ago most people accepted this and Walter Cronkite was called “the most trusted man in America.” Since the rise of the internet and talk radio, more and more people are beginning to see through the illusions of the media.
What pieces of the puzzle do they leave out and which wrong pieces do they put in to distort reality? In other words, what does the media do to distort the news and feed the veils of illusion?
We take pride in this country that we have a free press and feel that we have a huge advantage over the totalitarian states. In such a state you have the dictator and a few acolytes who are in total agreement with him control and censor all that filters down to the public. It’s a good thing that we don’t have that happen in a free society, isn’t it?
Actually, it does happen here, but the control is not so obvious.
How does it happen here you say? After all, the press is free to publish anything they want, aren’t they?
OK, let us look at why we don’t want a dictator controlling the media. The reason is that he has a certain mindset and he only allows the information that blends in with the mindset to appear in print.
Now if we have a group on individuals with a certain mindset controlling a supposed free press and the only material that is allowed to see print are those things that are in harmony with the mindset, do you not have the same thing?
Just as the king or dictator only allows his philosophy to see print yet at the same time give the appearance that he is fair and balanced even so can a free press do the same thing. They can apply as many filters as the tyrant but use the force of their broadcast to trick many viewers that their media is fair.
After all, do not the majority merely accept what is fed to them without much thinking involved? Therefore, cannot this majority be controlled and in turn keep the thinking minority in check.
Indeed this is possible and has been in effect most of the time for the last hundred years. It is only today with the appearance of the internet and cable news that the mindset that has controlled the media is losing its power and for the first time in history we are approaching an era where there will be truly a free circulation of ideas. (Note from 2021: This has now been sabotaged by the internet giants censoring news, information and opinion)
In my younger years we had three networks on TV and most towns had one paper from which we received the news. In addition we received some news on radio which was usually a summation of TV news.
As I matured I became more and more aware of how the news through the major media was not only slanted, but filtered. I was surprised I did not wake up to this sooner as in my younger years I just seemed to be more accepting as well as the fact that news was not a top priority with me. But as I began to pay attention I became more aware of a strong bias toward the left, or what some call today “the liberal media.”
Calling it a liberal media is confusing when one considers my recent post where I illustrate that much of what is called liberal is really conservative and visa versa. For the sake of this article we’ll use the traditional meaning of liberal and conservative or call them the left and the right.
In addition to the media slanting left I noticed that politicians from both parties did also. Even when many of them get elected and promise to balance the budget and do A, B and C on a conservative agenda I noticed that many of them settled into a more left leaning mindset after they were in office for a while.
Anyway, as I began to observe the media and politics and notice their bias I began to question why this was so. A very popular answer was that they were all arms of a great worldwide conspiracy which was controlled by international bankers, Jews, the Illuminati, Trilateral Commission etc.
I had to admit that the control did seem like the arm of a great conspiracy. How else could one explain the depth of it, I wondered.
After much reflection I found the answer and it was much different than I originally thought, but unknown to me I had the clues of it in front of me from my college days.
When in college I majored in political science and minored in journalism.
On hindsight I can see that my political science teachers who gave out any philosophy at all slanted far to the left, but I wasn’t much aware of it at the time. My desire was just to get a decent grade and please the teacher. I remember one teacher in particular who often made fun of conservatives and attacked the John Birch Society at every opportunity. He made so much fun of the Birchers that it made us feel like these people must completely insane and devoid of any redeeming value. It got to the point that if you wanted to insult someone you just called them a right winger or a Bircher.
Now the funny thing is that I thought that everyone in the class thought pretty much as one mind. No one ever challenged the teacher or showed any signs of disagreement. This seems particularly odd on hindsight when you consider that one of my classmates there is now a famous conservative U.S. senator – Larry Craig from Idaho.
The interesting thing is that back in those days I thought that Larry was on the left. I thought the whole class was. When he later ran for office as a conservative I was quite surprised.
Because I minored in journalism I went to work on the school paper. Every single person on the paper had a left slant in his or her thinking and writing. No one had to say what their views were, you just picked it up and when I wrote articles I just knew what was acceptable and what was not. I didn’t know this because of any conspiracy or because someone gave me orders. It was just something that everyone picked up.
The general conversation and humor of the staff was hauntingly similar to the political science class. Conservatives were the bunt of jokes and if someone wanted to ridicule another and called him a Bircher we would all laugh with understanding.
During my classes I never did find out anything about the John Birch Society. I just figured they were a bunch of idiots. Then one day I can across some of their literature and read it. I found it interesting and bought and read quite a few of their books.
I didn’t agree with everything they wrote, but I found one thing for sure that was true. They were not idiots. Their books woke me up to the fact that there are many stories and slants on current events that were completely ignored and twisted by the media. From that point on I never watched a news program in the same way again. Instead of just taking the news in without questioning I began to use judgment and discernment. I began to ask – what is left out of this story and why? Why is the emphasis on point A and not B? What is the belief system and agenda of the announcer or writer?
As it turns out it is not so much a difference in belief systems as in influences and polarities. The left is more in tune with emotions, intuition and creativity and are thus more drawn to the media and movie industry. The right is more influenced by the mind and are thus drawn to business and proven concepts and ideals.
What we are always in need of is a balance of the two.
Never explain–your friends do not need it and your enemies will not believe you anyway.
Elbert Hubbard (1856 – 1915)
April 13, 2004
Copyright by J J Dewey
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1 thought on “Illusion in the Media”
When you say that the left is influenced by emotions and the right is influenced by the mind and proven ideals (a laughable premise, mind you), you make it sound like the left should just defer to the right on most issues and that the proper balance is when the right is mostly in charge. No thanks JJ.
There is so much wrong with that notion. Why do most scientists tend to lean left? Why are religious fundamentalists almost always right wing? Why do right wingers and libertarians have a hard time accepting well-established ideas like naturalistic evolution or anthropomorphic climate change? It’s because they want cheap labor, unregulated industry, and powerful religious organizations, definitely not because they care about proven ideas. If they did, they would listen to the scientists, but they don’t because it doesn’t matter what the data says to them. They, like you, will find and see only what they want in order to reinforce their ideas that unregulated industry and capitalism is a great thing. Any supposed issues with that are just dismissed as the ramblings of lazy people who don’t want to work.
Why is it that when the excessive powers of corporations are brought up for discussion, the right wing only cares about it when they get banned from Twitter or are told to say happy holidays at their job instead of Merry Christmas?
If someone complains of slave wages, the right wing says something to the equivalent of “suck it up buttercup, get another job,” so why should they get any sympathy when they complain of big tech banning them from their social media account when they can just get on another platform or form their own? It’s called the Principle of Freedom JJ. Perhaps you’ve heard of it.