When it comes to our newscasters most of us still hold on to a romantic notion that these people are our Defenders of the Truth. We listen to them as they tell us the important news of the day, and we persist in imagining that they might have had something to do with tracking down the story, writing or at least editing the copy they so earnestly and authoritatively read to us over the air.
That may have once been the case – way back in the days of Walter Cronkite – when the people who gave us our news were actually journalists working for competing, independent news organizations. But today’s on-air news readers are little more than empty-headed pretty faces, skilled at sight-reading news copy and concerned only with things like pronunciation, inflection and striking the right emotional tones – the sincerity, gravity, empathy or levity called for by the scrip rolling in front of them on the Teleprompter.
In the days when our national information was provided by hundreds of independent and highly competitive news organizations, there was a natural motivation for the news providers to deliver accurate news coverage – because if they didn’t their viewers or readers could turn to better, more reliable sources. Today those hundreds of news organizations have all been swallowed up and consolidated into just a small handful of media companies. These conglomerates are now able coordinate and control the messaging of a vast array of seemingly independent news outlets.
This is a particularly powerful capability – particularly when used to manipulate or mold the perceptions of the population at large. For example, if a large media corporation was motivated to support, say the military invasion of an other country, it could disseminate the government’s false information about that country’s program to develop weapons of mass destruction. To us, watching or reading a handful of independent news outlets, seeing independent news organizations each reporting the same information would make the story very believable. After all, we believe, if it weren’t the truth at least one of these sources would contradict the others… right?
WRONG… really. Totally, woefully wrong.
Below is a short clip put together a few years ago by the Conan O’Brien show. It shows 14 different television news programs each reporting the same story… word for word. And these are not just different local shows from a single network – there are shows from ABC, CBS and Fox all represented in these clips. The only thing different is the pronunciations of the bobble-head newsreaders as they each try to put their special spin on the headline.
This would be funny… if it weren’t so dangerous.
But it shows better then anything else I can say the tools available to the powers that be to control and coordinate the “information” we’re fed about what’s going on in the world.
We form so much of our opinions about what’s going on in the world around us based on the information these organizations feed to us every day.
After you watch this, you might not want to believe everything you think.