Cutting through the bullshit.

Tuesday, 17 April 2007

Then and now


  1. I seem to remember reading that the Washington Post ran with the Nixon scandal a full year before any other newspaper would touch it.

    While there may be a difference in how servile the newspapers are today as opposed to a few years back, that difference is in how servile, not in being diligent then and servile today.

  2. Excellent point! Well spotted! This damn cold must have gone to my brain! I guess Tom Tomorrow's point must be that even though Bush has been assiduous in committing at least as gravely impeachable offenses as his predecessor back then, the media are dead silent, whereas there was a bit of a fuss over Nixon?

    BTW, I'm thinking of switching over to Haloscan for comments. So if you or any of the other three or four people who ever leave comments here have any preferences, of course I'll take them into consideration. As a matter of fact, I hate Haloscan, so if you know of other alternatives, please let me know, preferably by email.

  3. There was indeed some fuss over Nixon - eventually. That fuss was certainly greater than what Bush is getting; but on the other hand the Democratic opposition - I believe - was stronger back then as well.

    In Canada it is often political opposition to the government that provides the balancing coverage. (Yea for question period.) Our media, like it's US counterparts is heavy into gossip and entertainment - but political opposition in the halls of power seem to provide the impetus or spark that provides at least a semblance of media scrutiny. (And on Canada's involvement in Iraq there is almost no media coverage, nor political discussion in the halls of power).

    I think that we always idealise he past - the good old days. Looking at the full comic strip - I think that Tom Tomorrow is doing a bit of that as well. A year of silence by almost the entire media was certainly not diligence.

    I worry about that, as it tends to hide just how serious the problem is. Today it is - if only we could get rid of Bush - ignoring just how serious, deep, and long lasting the problem really is.


    As for platforms for the blog comments - I don't think I've really thought about it. It is somewhat amusing to see that you don't like the alternatives that are available. Makes me feel better about my interaction with Quick Books accounting software - definitely a hate-hate affair.

  4. By some bizarre coincidence, during the relevant period, 1972-75, I just happened to be studying in Canada and was utterly unconcerned with anything that had occurred since about 400BC, nor much then, either. I thought Greek literature contained some kind of timeless truth. Kids, eh? The nearest I got to anything political back then was when we tried to start a Classics student union, if you can imagine such a thing, at U of T. Most of the teaching staff were still moaning over the loss of ‘the Old Programme’, under which a four year Honours course of twenty full year units included precisely one elective. So I wasn’t paying very close attention to either US or Canadian politics. I had a vague feeling that the NDP were kind of ‘good’ and I recollect an encouraging result in I think it was a municipal by election where the majority of ballots were deliberately spoiled.

    Anyhow, whar I always say is it’s a mistake to think the media are in thrall to big business – the media ARE big business. If there is some sense in which ‘media responsibility’ is not an oxymoron, it’s to the shareholders and most assuredly not to the public, or society, or whatever. I don’t think we will succeed in any attempts to ‘reform’ the media short of actually taking them over. Some might think that this is a catch 22, seeing as the media have such a powerful grip on people’s consciousness and all. Fortunately, that’s not as much of a problem as commonly believed. For example, when I’ve read articles in magazines like New Scientist that cover a subject that I have some specialist knowledge about, it turns out that the presentation is so dated and distorted that I start to wonder whether the information I’m getting about subjects that I only have a lay interest in are any more current or reliable. You’ve probably had similar experiences, yourself. When you go home from a demo and turn on the news, only to learn that violent protesters provoked the police beyond endurance and they were forced to take firm action, the next time you hear that kind of rhetoric about somebody else’s demo or picket, you’re likely to take it cum grano salis, at least, and more likely dismiss it as complete bullshit, don’t you reckon?. In this way, the media break their own stranglehold on consciousness. I’m actually more worried about the educational system and ‘common sense’ in general. But the same kind of process goes on there. It’s not like the ravages, depredations, and contradictions of capitalism aren’t in your face all the time. It’s just a question of noticing.

    In the run up to the 2004 presidential election, I think the obsession with Bush was a serious issue. Fahrenheit 911 was rightly criticised for it. And the leadership of the peace movement willingly demobilised the one force that could have made a difference with their fucking Anybody But Bush campaign. Actually the one thing I read in support of the Kerry candidacy that was in the least persuasive was a piece by Naomi Klein where she argued that at least with Kerry in the White House, nobody would be distracted by Bush’s personal attributes, family connections, and the like. I once feared a repeal of the 22nd Amendment, but now I reckon Bush is a lame duck. He can certainly do a lot more damage in the next 21 months, but I don’t think he has the capacity to prey on people’s consciousness, at least not as he did two years ago. Furthermore, I think people have learned a lesson from the mid term election. Obviously, it would be naïve to expect anybody much to remember that lesson by November 2008, but I live in hope that at least the peace movement will retain some independence from the Democratic machine and there will be a significant rejection of the Republicrat-Tweedledumber two party crap. I wouldn’t mind at all if a strong ‘third party’ emerged, but of course what matters is what people are actually doing in their workplaces and on the streets.

  5. The thing about Haloscan is it pops up in another window, so you can still see what you're commenting about while you write the comment. Unlike with this Blogger system.