Monday, April 21, 2008

The Latest Disgrace

Here's Bob Parry's reaction to the recent NY Times exposé about "sock-puppet" military analysts:

...the real question is not how widespread the ethical lapses of the U.S. news media were – both in palming off self-interested ex-generals as objective observers and for failing to demonstrate even a modicum of skepticism in publishing false articles that paved the way to war.

Rather, the urgent question is what must be done if the United States is to reclaim its status as a functioning constitutional Republic in which a reasonably honest news media keeps the public adequately informed.

Having spent most of my career on the inside at places such as the Associated Press and Newsweek, it’s been my view for many years that the mainstream U.S. news media can’t be reformed, that it is beyond hope.

Though there are still good journalists working at major news companies – and the better news outlets do produce some useful information, like Sunday’s story in the Times – the central reality is that corporate journalism is rotten at the core and won't stop spreading the rot throughout the U.S. political process.

That’s why for the past dozen-plus years at, we have called for a major public investment in honest journalism, so information can be produced that it is both professional and independent of the kinds of external pressures that have deformed today’s mainstream press.

We must find new ways to tell the news.
Hard to disagree. Longing for reform in corporate media or pining for journalists who work for corporate outlets to "do their job!" tends to be, at the least, misplaced.

This is one of the reasons why I find the Chomsky/Herman propaganda model so useful and why it's exceptionally annoying to watch media analysts or critics pull their hair out when the jaundiced sourcing or -- to use the Chomsky/Herman word -- "filtering" becomes glaringly apparent. These sorts of anecdotes about a corrupt media environment are not aberrant. They illustrate precisely how the corporate media functions.

Ultimately, the point is not to think that you can remove filters, or even get them to change how they function within a heavily concentrated corporate media system. The point is to develop new media -- or, at least, new ways of seeing and producing media that have different sorts of filters, which reflect a different value system. In essence, that's the point Parry is making.