Half the American population no longer reads newspapers: plainly, they are the clever half. - Gore Vidal
The realm of political discourse has always been froth with distortion, duplicity and deceit; but recent decades have seen
these practices refined to high art. Only degrees separate even the most trustworthy public servant today. On a rare occasion
you may find that lone example that may buck this culture, but the odds of knowing with certitude who that person is, can
be as difficult as understanding the tax code. How did we get into this malaise of social behavior?
Power is the
goal for the elected official. When they speak of being motivated to serve to improve the condition of the people, solve problems,
and protect and defend the country; you can deduce that they are not being honest with themselves, let alone with us. The
public record is all the proof needed to cast doubt upon the intentions of officials, for their actions become the standard
of their true beliefs and aims.
With all the 'so called' ranker and partisanship that the media asserts is taking
place within the Beltway, the implication is made that real differences are at play. But if one delves deeper into their conduct
and examines the continuous cooperation among the fraternity of politicial careerist, you find an unspoken value to protect
themselves by ignoring the misdeeds of their colleagues. Accountability cuts both ways and the fear of being held to high
standards that your own behavior may not meet, will immediately extend the protection of your own office to conceal the member
Spin is the polite euphemism for dishonesty. Knowingly presenting a case of deception and untruths
while claiming that your explanation is correct. It is not putting the best light possible upon a circumstance, as some will
tell you. Enumerating only favorable factors to support your argument is acceptable, for the observer has the responsibility
to seek out the entire story. But when the political culture promotes willful lies in their construct to debate, you have
a total breakdown of civilized discourse.
The Liberal bias of the major media is undeniable. Their role is seen as
protecting their ideological allies. Under reporting or refusing to present unfavorable facts that could damage their heroes
underpins most of their questionable professional conduct. Having abandoned the habit of reading mainstream publications for
decades has removed the temptation to feed upon the sensational distortions that is their product. But recently, the only
medium available was that flagship of the US press, USA Today. Having been educated in the home town of the Gannett empire,
familiarity with the editorial policies of their publications has been well understood. The extent of the political slant
within a single issue is overwhelming. And they call the tabloids rags? Just who prints the greater distortion of the truth?
Success in Media is so often judged by profit and circulation or viewership. If the public is willing to read and
watch provocative and salacious reporting and avoid serious issues, voters will only diminish the quality of their ballot.
But when talking heads and spinsters practice willful bias based upon untruths, you lose the ability to maintain an informed
electorate. Politician are eager to have confusion! They often are the creators of problems so that they can enter the stage,
proclaiming that they have solutions. Knowing that the press will seldom ask the relevant and penetrating questions, give
the cover to perfect the skill to deceive. This practice brings the desired results, so the culture of the modern slick machine
Our society has abandoned the pursuit of the truth as the ultimate measure. What works, even if it is a distortion
is now the model for acceptable behavior. Utilitarian standards as formulated by John Stewart Mill and Jeremy Bentham have
moral basis to behavior and seek to attain the truth. This spin disguise that attempts to pass for practical craftsmanship
of policy is a repudiation of these men. Yes, we must conclude with pragmatic solutions; but when the political culture manages
the debate with disingenuous conduct, you will destroy the fabric of the Nation.
Accountability to the proven values
of truthful conduct IS the pragmatic solution. The press needs to return to a confrontational style, that the subjects of
their reporting are not their social friends. Most of us have little hope that the great flagships of the national media have
any interest in reforming their methods of operation. Does anyone really think the new CNN format is a change in editorial
attitudes, beliefs and practices?
It is our responsibility to challenge the spin directly with each of our representatives.
Just how many citizens have ever spoken one on one to their Congressman or Senator? If one wants to reform this culture, start
with direct contact. The spin stops when you look another in the eye. Demand the return to truth and accountability to those
who are unwilling to speak it. Politicians will never reform from within their own ranks. It will take pressure from the public,
directly targeted upon the individual to see any meaningful results.
During the recent funeral of Katharine Graham
you saw the elite of the media, corporate, and political establishment. Can anyone conclude that the end of spin and the return
to truth will come from this group? Only readers of USA Today and viewers of CNN might think the necessary leadership will
emerge after the inspirational eulogies. Whenever the club gathers, the truth suffers. The real reality is infrequently the
perception we are told to accept. Independent thinking has been discouraged in our society. Spin can never survive critical
analysis and moral principles. Change the culture and the politics will follow.
SARTRE - July 28, 2001