In Politics and the Media Truth is the First Casualty.

by Pitt Griffin on September 21, 2014 · 0 comments

in Foreign Policy, Immigration, Lying, Politics, Terrorism, War

“Occasionally he stumbled over the truth, but hastily picked himself up and hurried on as if nothing had happened.”  Winston Churchill

We love bad news. It’s not that we want bad things to happen to us – it’s just that bad news is so much more interesting than so-so news or even good news. Consider two headlines and ask yourself which accompanying story will be more widely read.

“Ebola epidemic is slowly being brought under control. Chances of infection reaching the US declining.”

“Ebola epidemic threatens African continent. Experts warn that infection in US almost inevitable.”

Obviously the second is going to get the attention. Of course, I hear you say, the second story has information of great interest to us. It tells of a threat to our health. Why wouldn’t we read that deeply. Fair enough. But what if the second headline had instead said,

“Ebola epidemic threatens African continent. Experts warn that infection in US remote.”

Now the only difference between the two stories is the severity of the ebola outbreak in Africa. And the second story would still be as widely read.

This attention to bad news stories is well known to the media; “If it bleeds it leads” is their dismal mantra. Which is why local news stories often take the form “How (fill in the blank) could kill you.

When something has happened the facts of that event are set in stone. A tornado hits a town, It kills a certain number of people, And that’s the story. But anticipating events allows for any prognostication the reporter pleases. The possible dead from a hurricane, an ebola epidemic, or an ISIS attack, is uncapped. The Cassandras hyperventilate disasters beyond imagination, certainly beyond reason.

And politicians enable their media dopplegangers – by providing hysterical scenarios, made seemingly rational by the gravity of their offices. People, who should know better, warn of ISIS – in the form of US passport bearing “lone wolves” – slaughtering  flocks of innocent American lambs. And – this hurts – disrupting America’s vital business.

Exactly how this army of lone wolves will achieve this end is left vague.

It has become so ludicrous that the scare de jour, earlier this year, was unaccompanied teens crossing the Mexican border. Which added a new twist to our decades long immigration ‘crisis’. Facts be damned, we ‘know’ this brown horde is a criminal enterprise. (Except for Juanita, who cleans your house, or Pedro manning the hedge trimmers)

Abroad it is no better. Our political/media complex warns of ISIS’s unstoppable advance. Putin is elevated to super-villain, and granted super-human powers. Muslim minorities throughout Europe are plotting that continent’s slow decline into Mohammed’s hell-hole.

This drumbeat of disaster is only stilled when we attack someone who hasn’t attacked us. In that case the political/media complex trots out rosy predictions that the war will be a ‘cake-walk’ and be over ‘by Christmas’.

There is no interest in politics and media in reasoned views and rational analysis. Politicians need votes and the media needs eyeballs. And the public doesn’t demand the truth.


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