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MarekNYC:
The idea that this constitutes a 'Goebbels-style propaganda outlet' is a descent into self-parody comparable to the hysterical rantings of the US right about how the Le Monde is some sort of far-left anti-semitic outlet.

Sure. There was never an organised and professional attempt by the Pentagon to seed pro-war stories. The NYT didn't collude with the White House to keep Plamegate under wraps until after the election. Fox News is always fair and balanced. And Rupert Murdoch has never influenced the result of a UK election. Berlusconi doesn't owe his position to his media empire. Sarkozy doesn't owe his position to his media friends.

Uh huh.

Exactly how many politicians have won recent elections without majority media support?

MarekNYC:

Have you ever, once, spent any time actually reading the press of a dictatorship?

Have you ever, once, considered that the old Communist countries didn't and don't have a monopoly on propaganda and opinion management?

Do you have any idea what genuinely independent media would look like?

Go read some Chomsky, or something.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Tue Jul 1st, 2008 at 07:18:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Do you have any idea what genuinely independent media would look like?

None of us does, which was sort of my point above.  Such a thing has never existed.  Hearkening back to some golden era when "the media were independent" is a bit myopic.

by the stormy present (stormypresent aaaaaaat gmail etc) on Tue Jul 1st, 2008 at 07:33:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Can we at least agree on 'more independent' then?

Possibly a 'Tentatively willing to ask harder questions slightly more aggressively as long as no one gets annoyed' perhaps?

I'll stop short of an 'Imbued with a tradition of journalistic integrity' because obviously that's not going to be a popular choice here. And it's not as if such a thing has ever existed, even in theory.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Tue Jul 1st, 2008 at 07:46:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You really aren't going to get much joy out of me, sorry. :-\

I usually stay out of these "the media are X" discussions because I don't think it's possible to generalize about what "the media" are or were.  These things are cyclical, and at any given time it depends on which media, and independent of what or asking hard questions of whom.  Fox News and the New York Post may be the media, but so is McClatchy.  Seymour Hersh is the media.  So is Keith Olbermann.

by the stormy present (stormypresent aaaaaaat gmail etc) on Tue Jul 1st, 2008 at 08:33:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The fact that I don't consider the Times or Le Monde the equivalent of the Volkische Beobachter doesn't mean I don't think there was propaganda in the press. But if you bothered to read what I wrote you'd see that what I was arguing is that among the crap there's a lot of excellent reporting. You apparently can't distinguish between a Paul Krugman or a Bill Kristol, a Dana Priest from a Judy Miller. And that's the reason I ask the rhetorical question about having ever read the press in a dictatorship, hint, it doesn't look like the NYT or the WaPo, hell, even Fox would have been far beyond the limits in the fairly mild dictatorships of post-Stalinist Eastern Europe.

And I've read Chomsky, don't feel like arguing about him.

by MarekNYC on Tue Jul 1st, 2008 at 07:58:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
No, I'm arguing that the excellent reporting is irrelevant if it doesn't influence policy - because policy is locked down elsewhere.

Otherwise it's just noise, and a useful safety valve. The Soviet-era press had very similar 'excellent reporting' with specific criticisms of individuals and of collective decisions, and news items that would have passed for honest debate if read individually.

Reading the news is not the same as taking part in a debate. Nor is reading op-eds. To take part in a debate, you have to be in a position to have some chance of having your views turned into policy.

And no matter how much Krugman writes, there is currently no chance at all of any of his sort-of-progressive ideas being turned into Washington or Wall St policy. The fact that he appears in print doesn't change this. All it does is create an illusion of possibility which isn't matched by political reality.

Breaking a story like Walter Reed is irrelevant if the abuse keeps happening. Likewise with torture. Likewise with Iraqi pork.

That lack of effectiveness is the giveaway - just as the ability of the media machines to get creatures like Sarkozy and Berlusconi elected is the flip side.

An active press has the power to change these things - literally. The press could have swiftboated the swiftboaters in 2004. Bush and Cheney could have been asked some aggressive difficult questions about their past, their business links, and their future plans. Iraqi pork spending could have been held up to the light - not just as a one-off, but as part of a reliable editorial line.

A passive press has the power to allow them to continue, or to enable them and make sure they're not challenged. It's one of the defining characteristics of fascism that while you can blame expendable scapegoats for transgressions, you never, ever undermine the sacred patriotic authority of the leader.

Have you seen any critical stories from Iraq recently? It must be quiet over there now that the surge is working. How about that latest $120 billion to keep us all safe? Didn't FEMA do a great job with the recent flooding?

And so on. Even though Bush's usefulness is nearly used up, the pandering continues - a little less dedicated and a little more questioning than it used to be, but still solid enough to prevent impeachment or accountability.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Tue Jul 1st, 2008 at 09:01:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Otherwise it's just noise, and a useful safety valve. The Soviet-era press had very similar 'excellent reporting' with specific criticisms of individuals and of collective decisions, and news items that would have passed for honest debate if read individually.

In other words, no, you don't have a clue of how the Soviet press looked or worked.

And no matter how much Krugman writes, there is currently no chance at all of any of his sort-of-progressive ideas being turned into Washington or Wall St policy. The fact that he appears in print doesn't change this. All it does is create an illusion of possibility which isn't matched by political reality.

No matter what appears in the press it has no influence on public policy or public views. The press is impotent.

just as the ability of the media machines to get creatures like Sarkozy and Berlusconi elected is the flip side.

The press is omnipotent. [i'm confused]

Have you seen any critical stories from Iraq recently?

Nor do you read the American press.

A passive press has the power to allow them to continue, or to enable them and make sure they're not challenged. It's one of the defining characteristics of fascism that while you can blame expendable scapegoats for transgressions, you never, ever undermine the sacred patriotic authority of the leader

Have you been living in some alternative universe the past few years? And, btw, is the US fascist or communist in that world, I'm curious, you seem to suggest the former earlier on, now the latter. Since you seem to have only recently arrived, some facts about this universe: Krugman ain't in jail, nor is the Times editorial board, nor are the various writers who broke all those stories. They also managed to get published. The president and vice president have been deeply unpopular for a number of years now. I hope you enjoy this universe, rather imperfect but it sounds likes it is a bit better than the one you arrived from, albeit a bit more complicated, but I'm sure you'll figure it out.

by MarekNYC on Tue Jul 1st, 2008 at 11:34:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Case in point: Dan Rather did ask some awkward questions about George Bush's Air National Guard Service and we see what was his reward.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Wed Jul 2nd, 2008 at 12:40:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
He was set up with a faked document... But I didn't feel sorry for him because he had said, shortly after 9/11, "[Bush] is my commander-in-chief. All he has to do is tell me where to line up and I'll do it". Since when is the Press Corps a division of the US Armed Forces? I guess calling it a Corps gives it away :-P
But when you check out a document, you take it to the source. You take it all the way to the source. The idea that they would actually go with a story without actually--without following it to the National Guard archive or to the Pentagon and verifying its actual authenticity is just mind-blowing; but it's not surprising, I guess, given Rather's terrible record. Don't forget that he was practically saluting Bush on David Letterman famously after 9/11. He said "All--He's my commander-in-chief. All he has to do is tell me where to line up and I'll do it." Even on the Abu Ghraib scandal, which they did break (I mean, we have to give CBS credit for putting it on the air), they called General Myers, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, once they had the pictures and the evidence, confronted him with it, and he said, "Well, give me a couple of weeks. Please don't do the story," and they sat on it for two weeks! And then later said, "Well, we went with the story because--only because it was going to break on the internet." Not because it was the right thing to do. So now, the--you have a case of crazy overcompensation, but incredible incompetence by CBS.
(source: Democracy Now!)


When the capital development of a country becomes a by-product of the activities of a casino, the job is likely to be ill-done. — John M. Keynes
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Jul 2nd, 2008 at 02:00:04 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Have you seen any critical stories from Iraq recently?

You mean like this one?  Or this one?  Or how about this one?  And then there's this and this.  The Bush administration won't be happy about this development.

The news from Afghanistan and Guantanamo ain't so great, either.

by the stormy present (stormypresent aaaaaaat gmail etc) on Wed Jul 2nd, 2008 at 03:57:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Two of those are from Democracy Now which isn't exactly Mainstream Media.

When the capital development of a country becomes a by-product of the activities of a casino, the job is likely to be ill-done. — John M. Keynes
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Jul 2nd, 2008 at 04:46:00 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You know, the only other person to use the word "mainstream" in this thread was Marek.  Everyone else just keeps talking about "the media."  Which Democracy Now certainly qualifies as, being on the radio and all.  And as it's aired on "more than 700 radio and television, satellite and cable TV networks in North America," one might wonder what the definition of "mainstream" might be, anyway.
by the stormy present (stormypresent aaaaaaat gmail etc) on Wed Jul 2nd, 2008 at 04:57:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
If a member of the mainstream media picks up heavily on a story, the rest of the MSM feels obliged to follow suit ?

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères
by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Wed Jul 2nd, 2008 at 07:49:18 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well that's sort of a self-reinforcing definition.
by the stormy present (stormypresent aaaaaaat gmail etc) on Wed Jul 2nd, 2008 at 09:59:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Why would that be a problem ?

The mainstream media are self-reinforcing.

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères

by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Wed Jul 2nd, 2008 at 10:00:44 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I was sort of looking for a definition of "mainstream media" that doesn't equate to "those which act like mainstream media."
by the stormy present (stormypresent aaaaaaat gmail etc) on Wed Jul 2nd, 2008 at 10:08:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It has to be a combination of audience numbers and influence, which involves the kind of self-reinforcing network effects you object to.

When the capital development of a country becomes a by-product of the activities of a casino, the job is likely to be ill-done. — John M. Keynes
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Jul 2nd, 2008 at 10:38:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Why ?

Many social phenomenon are most easily described in this way. Generally, the easiest way to find out who is is a member of a subcommunity is to ask other members of that subcommunities.

And as Migeru said, its a combination of that influence among the rest of the mainstream media - and thus general public discourse, which they catalyse - and audience numbers - some influential magazines are more "insider media", being read by those that make the news, but not really bringing these news to the public.

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères

by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Wed Jul 2nd, 2008 at 10:55:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
What?

Wikipedia: I know it when I see it

Justice Potter Stewart used the phrase in his concurring opinion in Jacobellis v. Ohio 378 U.S. 184 (1964). He wrote:

"I shall not today attempt further to define the kinds of material I understand to be embraced within that shorthand description; and perhaps I could never succeed in intelligibly doing so. But I know it when I see it, and the motion picture involved in this case is not that." (emphasis added)

Ah!

When the capital development of a country becomes a by-product of the activities of a casino, the job is likely to be ill-done. — John M. Keynes
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Jul 2nd, 2008 at 11:35:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]
An Expert Reveals Chinese Origins of Interrogation Techniques at Guantánamo - NYTimes.com
What the trainers did not say, and may not have known, was that their chart had been copied verbatim from a 1957 Air Force study of Chinese Communist techniques used during the Korean War to obtain confessions, many of them false, from American prisoners.

Would  that be the Wolf-Hinkle report commissioned by Allan Dulles? that said that basically the techniques used by the Chinese communists were the same as the techniques used in US police stations to get people to confess?

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.

by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Wed Jul 2nd, 2008 at 06:57:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
No, the Hinkle & Wolff study was earlier and referenced in the Air Force paper, which the Times posted (.pdf) along with a batch of newly released documents (.pdf, long) from the Senate Armed Services Committee hearings on interrogation tactics.
by the stormy present (stormypresent aaaaaaat gmail etc) on Wed Jul 2nd, 2008 at 07:26:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]

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