Monday, August 24, 2015 11:37 AM
So deep in the woods one would think it already nighttime—until the late afternoon turns to brief dusk then vanishes into inky nothingness.
Now we know we’re being played (as if there were any doubt beforehand). The Dow dropped over a thousand points first thing this morning, said the news-crawl. As if the Dow were a sentient creature and not a room full of gamblers and crooks trying to out-scheme each other. How long will journalists maintain this false naivety—that the Dow or the S&P 500 or any of those indices do anything other than what the obscenely-wealthy, top owners and players want it to do?
Or let us examine the case of Hillary Clinton—the media have invented a thing called her ‘email scandal’—but they stubbornly refuse to address the question of exactly what wrongdoing Hillary Clinton is accused of. Her stalkers have engendered investigations in the Justice Dept., the State Dept., and the Congress—they even have a judge who, for whatever reason, has ordered a monthly press-release about the e-mail investigation—just so it is guaranteed a place in the news feed for the remainder of the presidential campaign. A real journalist might report on the lack of a single specific crime or harm that any of this mishegas entails.
I would sadly, resignedly accept that Hillary Clinton is more untrustworthy than any other politician—if someone would just say in plain words what proof there is of this universal assumption. In the absence of anything like that, I am left with the conviction that we’re being played. The ‘Hillary E-Mail Scandal’ has become a given—the media discuss how it hurts her polling numbers, how skillfully or unskillfully she is handling her ‘response’—but they never have time to talk about the specifics, the reality behind all the smoke and mirrors.
Or take the Trump circus coverage—the media can’t resist this guaranteed ratings-maker. They marvel at Trump’s decisive lead over the other sixteen GOP candidates—as if a reality-show star could help but outshine a crowd of narrow-minded white men. But they don’t like to dwell on the larger reality—that Trump supporters—like the Tea Party they came from—represent a vanishingly small segment of bitter, ignorant reactionaries. These congenital shouters and bitchers make a big splash on TV—but their numbers are so small that we not only expect Trump to lose to a Democrat (any Democrat) nationally, but we assume that it would be suicidal for the GOP even to nominate him.
Here we see a conjunction of un-enlightened self-interest—the media is drawn to shiny distractions over substance, and the GOP can’t get their baker’s dozen of extraneous candidates to step aside and let the poll numbers show Trump against just one or two opponents. Most of these GOP candidates are busy feeding their egos with public appearances and feeding their bank accounts with fund-raising—that their collective milling about leaves Trump free to destroy their party’s image doesn’t prompt a one of them to pull out of the race. Insanely, part of the coverage of Trump is the occasional observation by this or that pundit that the whole house of cards will collapse as we draw closer to the election—making all their coverage a complete waste of time. No one talks about what a waste of time it is for the other sixteen to be running at all—I guess that would be insensitive.
Just because no one’s ultimately in charge of anything, or responsible for anything, doesn’t mean that we aren’t being played. The stock market has been a scam since the day it was invented—banks themselves aren’t much better. Politics has always been a dirty business. And journalism, in its most common incarnation, is just large-scale gossip for profit—the occasional ‘heroes’ of the fourth estate were always backed by their editorial chiefs—but today’s editorial departments are being muzzled by owners, lawyers, and advertisers whose allegiance is to the bottom line rather than the bare facts.
Still, we don’t care. Life is too complicated if we view all of our institutions as con games and all political and military decisions as furtherance of corruption and ego-feeding. So, we trust the banks and the markets, we vote for the politicians, we work every day for the fat cats, and we watch the news as if it mattered. We know we are being willfully ignorant in doing this—but we have our own lives to live amidst all the craven conniving, so we close our eyes and step out into thin air, expecting concrete.