Monday, November 14, 2011

How Does The Mainstream Media Work?

The elites who run this country exercise power in two ways, one private, one public. Politicians and policy are manipulated through registered lobbyists on Capitol Hill, and in private meetings at lavish fundraisers. It's all about money and access. All of this takes place behind closed doors, out of the public's sight. The manipulation of American citizens is carried out through the corporate owned media (image left, click to enlarge). There's nothing private about it; it's right there in front of you on the TV. How does this work?

The primary functions of the mainstream media (MSM) are to make money by catering to their advertisers and to maintain the socioeconomic status quo. Each goal reinforces the other, i.e. they are mutually supporting. Special interests seek to maintain their privileged status. This is accomplished by 1) narrowing the frame of debate; 2) omission of crucial information; 3) taking the political system seriously when it obviously should not be taken seriously; 4) propaganda telling us how well we're doing; and 5) distracting citizens with ever dumber (and ever more insidious) entertainments of various sorts—sitcoms, "news" shows, "reality" shows, gladiatorial contests, and so on, all interspersed with advertising so manipulative and shallow that one is constantly embarrassed to be a member of our species.

But the dumbing-down process through which harmless docility is encouraged and reinforced is subtle. In this conversation with David Talbot, Salon's Glenn Greenwald explains how it works, using the Occupy protests as an example. We'll have to overlook the fact that Salon also features many glowing reviews of various TV shows which serve the functions just described, regardless of their story-telling or entertainment value. more