January 23, 2015

Journalism and the shell game?

Filed under: Commentary — Tags: — Bob Patterson @ 1:27 pm


crop of confusing picture

If the Supreme Court is setting up the country for another gotcha decision, then it is critical for the main stream media to make loud and emphatic proclamations asserting that the decision could go either way. The universal meme in the main stream media that says the fellow with the swing vote is impossible to second guess in advance was ubiquitous last week and Americans believed it. GMAFB; TV personalities stand ready to go on camera and pontificate on any subject at any time and then suddenly they all balk? Isn’t there something very fishy with that? Will this be seen by future historians as the key to the strategy that calls for a repeat of the “leave the decision with the clerk and then get out of Washington on the night before the results are announced” game plan? If gay marriages are found to be unconstitutional, will the journalists be required to say “no one saw this coming” and then move onto other matters clamoring for the attention of America’s various managing editors?

Does anyone honestly believe that seasoned veteran journalists don’t have any strong hunches about the final result? Do the news reporters with many years experience in covering the United States Supreme Court really have no background material available to provide (at the very least) an educated guess at which way the guy is going to vote?

If American journalists really wanted to fulfill their mission, they could couch the story by reminding voters that the Supreme Court has done that previously and that the current landmark case is the golden opportunity for the Conservative Christian majority group to strike a blow against a trend that they perceive to be an abomination against nature.

So what if some obscure columnist points out the absurdity of this attempt to set the public up for an “up yours” ending for the current Supreme Court session?

This weekend the talking heads political analysis shows will want to look like they are scrutinizing the Yemen crisis and the Saudi Royal family history but (odds are) if you listen closely you will (mixed metaphor alert!) see that they just repeat the basic facts and make it seem like they are examining all pertinent information.

If the so called Mid-East experts don’t mention the part that WWI events played in the history of the Saudi Royal family will it just seem to be an in-depth analysis?

It wouldn’t be very entertaining if the experts said: “We haven’t read ‘The Seven Pillars of Wisdom’ by T. E. Lawrence and so we don’t have a clue as to what’s going on.” Wouldn’t that be too much honesty for TV?

So if they can appear to be extremely well informed about the history of the Saudi Royal family but the reporters who have covered the United State Supreme Court for years can say they have no clue as to how the Republican majority body will decide, are you really going to believe that?

Did Winston Churchill (and FDR?) pressure the Saudi Royal family to produce more oil during WWII? Did they Saudis refine oil and sell it directly to the British Navy operating in the Mediterranean? (Just asking.) If someone offers to give a complete background briefing (between ad breaks) shouldn’t they deliver what they promised?

This weekend under-inflated footballs, inoculations for the measles, and the fate of two hostages who are scheduled to be executed should provide some excellent examples of “red Herring news.” It is information meant to throw citizens off the trail that they ware following to become well informed voters.

Speaking of used car salesmen, Charles Willeford titled his book about a used car salesman, “The High Priest of California.” Is “Go see Cal” just an L. A. thing?

Where were we?

Oh, yes, . . . Should the USA send troops to maintain a new puppet government in Yemen?

How realistic is it to ask a Republican majority led Congress and Senate to tax the rich and give tax breaks to the middle class?

The pundits are unanimous in the opinion that the Senate and Congress will pay little attention to the words of President’s state of the union speech on Tuesday of this week. That will be good practice if Obama decides to become a political pundit and write columns after his term expires.

Surrealism in action in Paris? Is it true that some of the leading existentialist philosophers in France are postulating that the attack on the Charlie Hebdo magazine offices was an indication that the surrealists have returned to Paris?

Historians who look back on this week may very well focus on bits of pop culture that featured under inflated footballs, an outbreak of the measles, and an installment of the Getty and Armstrong radio show that provided an in depth examination of the medical phenomenon of broken penises . . . then again . . . maybe the historians will dwell on some facts of great significance that the main stream media just didn’t think were all that important.

Historians tend to focus on just one aspect of the past in a way that is similar to a jig-saw puzzle fan working on assembling an image of an old steam locomotive. Columnists, however, who dabble in punditry can be compared to the challenge that would be presented if the jig-saw fan’s wife dumped all the different puzzles into one gigantic pile of puzzle pieces and harrumphed about the futility of using a butterfly net to catch a rainbow.

Does anyone want to read an entire column devoted to the fact that to celebrate the Fiftieth anniversary, another 50 Cobras will be made and sold?

In the “Only in Frisco” feature, we note that this week’s copy of the San Francisco Weekly has a notice informing their audience that the weekly newspaper is seeking a cannabis critic.

[Note from the Photo Editor: To illustrate the columnist’s challenging task of plucking the best pop culture items to discern a pattern and capture the spirit of a hectic week, we chose a graffiti collage seen in Berkeley.]

We’d like to think that Andre Breton was referring to the Sunday gabfests when he wrote: “I resent passing through these ill-lighted sentences, receiving these confidences without object, suffering at every moment, through the fault of a chatterbox, a sensation of ‘I knew that before.’”

Now the disk jockey will play Jerry Lee Lewis’s “I wish I was 18 again,” “Forever Young,” and Orson Wells rendition of “I know what it is to be young, you don’t know what it is to be old.” (It’s on Youtube.) Now, we have to go look for a French language bookstore.   Have a “Je suis Charlie” type week.

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