Map of life expectancy at birth from Global Education Project.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Old news: we have a very large problem

Some in the corporate media have finally recognized that the neo-con cabal in power is probably not good for business in the long run after all. Yes, it eliminated regulations in the public interest that they found limiting to their ability to rake in the bucks, it slashed the taxes of their wealthy owners and megamillionaire news readers, and it gave them the splendid little war they wanted so badly. Wars pull eyeballs to TV sets and sell newspapers, the first Gulf War was a bonanza for them, and they were obviously eager to have another.

But now there is this little issue of the long-term decline of the United States. Here we are in hock up to our eyeballs, hemmorhaging billions of dollars and burning out our military in a pointless, hopeless disaster of a colonial war, our physical and social infrastructure deteriorating, more and more dependent on totalitarian regimes that despise us for the petroleum lifeblood of our economy, our society fundamentally fractured, completely unprepared for potentially catastrophic environmental challenges. Of these multiple crises, some were a long time in the making to be sure but ignored or exacerbated by the present regime, others are largely or entirely of its making.

Yet the most corrupt, incompetent, dishonest presidential administration in U.S. history is still in power, and will be for more than three years. That is more than enough time for them to finish the job of sending the nation onto a permanent path of disastrous decline. The Resident has no clue of the folly of the past five years. Instead, he just grows ever more vulgar in the conduct of his office -- which scarcely seems possible -- most recently using the solemn national occasion of Veterans Day to stand before a military audience and equate dissent with treason.

So, while the corporate media have finally started to panic about the catastrophe they have helped to create, they have yet to acknowledge their own complicity, and have barely begun to reform their ways. Here is a very telling example. This Times editorial is fearless in denouncing the lies that led us into war, but it completely ignores the newspaper's own essential complicity. And however strongly worded this editorial, the news pages of the Times continue to re-transmit administration lies without correction.

The fundamental corruption of journalism in the U.S. remains unacknowledged and unaddressed. The content producers -- I won't even call them journalists or reporters or editors -- do not see it as their job to determine the truth and tell it to the people. The see their job, at best, as re-transmitting the versions of reality provided by competing powerful groups. I say at best, because most of the time, they just act as amplifiers for the single, most powerful party. We still see news stories every day which consist of nothing but statements of opinion or outright lies by the Resident or his closest associates, frequently under a cloak of anonymity. Political hacks go on the Sunday talk shows and spout lies, completely unchallenged by the moderators. If some prominent Democratic politician happens to say something on the same day which contradicts the lie, it may be reported, but the medium makes no effort to tell us that one story is the truth and the other is not.

I've said it before. Reality has a liberal bias. This will be true so long as the conservative party in power continues to base its rule on a foundation of lies. Journalistic integrity means telling the truth, even if it disfavors the party in power. That's fair and balanced.

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