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Zeitgeist

by Clyde Lewis

The collective conscience is independent of the collective consensus. There is going to be a conflict over who or what can be called a reporter and who or what has the right to publish, report or otherwise inform. Beware of the new form of the media. The "Official State Media."

Lately, I have been struggling with what kind of news I should be reporting. So many stories fly by me that I feel that are important, and each one is competing for my attention.

It is as if there is some sort of Darwinian aspect to the news these days. The corporate media has decided to report certain stories that feed the fire of dissent and bigotry, while other stories, which confirm that we are in a time of deceit, are ignored in order to benefit corporate interests.

The New York Times has a little statement that is always seen at the top of their front page that says "All the News That’s Fit to Print."

Well, in these times it seems that in most cases, only the news that is the fittest is printed.

That is, stories that are the fittest in the opinion of the corporate structure.

Those stories that they decide to promote are the only ones worthy of the public eye.

One of the most important things you should ask yourself when you are watching or reading the news is, why do these news stories survive? How is it that they get to you? What is the reason for hearing this type of news?

The other day I was reporting the morning news and I noticed that most of the day’s stories dealt with child abuse, and with sexual perverts of all shapes and sizes, from panty thieves to a man who loved to shower naked with young boys at the local YMCA. I even glanced over a story that talked about satanic ritual abuse and the possibility that this may be the subject of the new "Spanish Inquisition", or witch hunt, that is in the works for the 21st century.

I think that I am beginning to see a trend again.

I am beginning to see that we are trying to find another scapegoat or another boogeyman to fight here at home.

It is yet another attempt to make us all suspects in our own country.

I do know that these types of predatory behavior are ghastly and should be dealt with. However, the Catch–22 involved is that soon you will be encouraged to watch your neighbor’s activities, to allow cameras to be installed everywhere for surveillance, and to accept the use of RFID tags or chips to protect your children from these unwanted predators.

The mainstream press has already attempted many times to vilify the Internet, causing those who do not use it, and know little about it, to consider it a place where every cult leader, pedophile, Satanist or witch hangs out to pounce on your child.

A recent news story that wound up on the front page of the newspaper furthers my point.

It was a story out of Grants Pass, Oregon, about a man who, according to police, used an Internet chat room to organize a death pact in which more than two dozen women across the United States and Canada planned to commit mass suicide.

Investigators have begun to subpoena chat room records to try to contact people who might have planned to take part in the suicide. Detectives learned of the plan from a woman in Canada who said she saw the message in a Yahoo chat room that had the words "Suicide Ideology" in the title.

The woman told the police that she was going to take part in the mass suicide, but had second thoughts when another chat room participant said she would do it and talked about killing her two children before taking her own life.

The police arrested Gerald Krein, who is suspected of being the mastermind behind the mass suicide pact where people were supposed to log in on Valentines Day and communicate with others as, one by one, they died.

Can anyone see what is happening here?

One form of media is stigmatizing the other, and for what purpose?

For the purpose of creating doubt about the information and the intent of those who are on the Internet.

The members of the mass media once again think that they are losing their grip on being the primary source for the interpretation of what is truly reality.

They create a stereotype of those who are out there in the Internet world. They accuse bloggers of distorting the truth, and try to discourage anyone from questioning the consensus reality because it is not good for corporate or government interest.

They propose that anyone who searches for information online, or outside of the main branches of the corporate media, must be some sort of conspiracy theorist or kook.

Why is it that the mainstream media has decided that anything outside their precious hold on reality is "conspiracy theory?"

Why is it that there are many people who wish to believe them, when it is obvious that mainstream corporate media has a well entrenched selective mechanism for beaming whatever reality they choose to offer to the masses?

It used to be that the terms "investigative reporting" and "objectivity" were staples in a newsroom. "Objectivity" means that no belief systems will be inserted into the news and no value judgements will be made.

The old mantra of "the public’s right to know" was an important moral code in the newsroom.

Now the moral code for the newsman is "Facts be damned; we mistrust every story that does not sit well with our precious belief systems. " This, of course, is abbreviated to "no spin" or "fair and balanced" journalism.

Investigative journalism exists only in spirit now.

It is only there to compound the endemic paranoia that exists amongst the citizenry and to keep from exposing the criminal element in corporation or in government.

It used to be that journalists would expose a politician who may have solicited sex from a hooker, or, as in the case of the Watergate break–in, a scandal in which an entire administration can be brought down.

I find that it is a peculiar Irony that the informant known only as "Deep Throat" is supposedly near death and that his identity is about to be revealed.

"Deep Throat" represents a time in history where investigative journalism was at its peak. Investigative reporting was a way to reign in the powerful and the journalist was the unsung hero who brought down any attempt at power grabs by an organized conspiracy.

They would be considered conspiracy theorists today.

While investigative reporting exists in spirit on local and national news shows, it is important to stress that the new investigative reporting is nothing even close to the type of reporting that existed in the times of Woodward and Bernstein.

After Watergate, it seemed that investigative news targeted people without much power.

For example, the investigative reporter now focuses his camera on someone doing some heavy lifting who perhaps claimed he was disabled with a bad back and was receiving benefits.

Cameras also are now turned on citizens, based upon the possibility that your neighbor may be either growing marijuana, or worse, creating bathtub methamphetamines in their houses.

Investigative reports about online chat rooms do not focus on online self–help groups that speak of fibromyalgia or cancer. They lead you instead to believe that all chat rooms are black holes that suck your child into sex games and pornography.

On July 3rd, 1993 TIME magazine ran a cyber porn cover story. It was based loosely on a college paper written by an undergraduate named Martin Rimm. Rimm stated in the article that the Internet was nothing but a hive of indecency.

He scared parents into believing that if their children merely get on a computer and tinker around, they could easily access a blinding amount of erotica and deviant sexual activities like pedophilia, sadomasochism and bestiality.

When he was pressed for questions about his findings, the student refused to answer. He signed an exclusive deal with TIME. TIME Magazine’s Phillip Elmer Dewitt wrote that what was written on the net might be bogus, error–ridden, or just plain wrong.as if TIME Magazine wasn’t lying to the American people about the cyberporn scare.

As if it were meant to be, TIME Magazine was waved around by Iowa Republican Senator Charles Grassley with the warning "that our children need to be protected from this filth." Scholars came forward to say that what Rimm reported was false and exaggerated. But the damage was done. Rimm’s Big Lie was widely broadcast.

By the time more sober observers got around to taking the story apart, millions of people around the country had realized that this new toy had dangerous side effects. This from a magazine that once said that Gangsta Rap was fun music and a good influence, just to sell a few records. After all, Warner Brothers Records needed to make a buck.

It turned out that Rimm was an author of the Pornographer’s Handbook. Only then did TIME run a retraction criticizing the Rimm story. However, politicians had already found their hook for the virtual cleansing of the net, and the elimination of your right to free speech.

In 1996, Senator Orrin Hatch from Utah, another ignorant conservative, was hot on this issue. Many Senators probably never knew the difference between having a mouse or a penis in their hand, but still told us the Internet was evil. So Congress passed the 1996 Communications Decency act regulating online indecency.

It was a piece of worthless propaganda released to make inroads into curbing freedom of speech.

Recently, the specter of Janet Jackson’s breast being revealed on camera during a past Super Bowl halftime show haunted the mainstream press around the time of the 2005 game. The media had gone to great pains to assure that its audience would not have to endure a "wardrobe malfunction" on stage.

It was such a worry that a safe and wholesome Paul McCartney was featured as the halftime attraction and "America the Beautiful" was performed in tribute to Ray Charles, the famous blind gospel and blues singer. The performance looked like it was taken out of a Sunday school amateur night as hundreds of deaf children performed the song in sign language.

An internet domain company called Godaddy.com parodied the concern with a fashion model appearing before Congress and having a slight malfunction happen with her halter strap. The commercial was supposed to air twice on Fox Networks, but was pulled without notice because there were complaints levied against the commercial. It showed no breasts and no nudity, but the spot was ’"titillating", and therefore was not in the spirit of what had to be a Super Bowl that was tainted with the stink of immorality. But who was responsible for the complaints? Who is pushing the agenda of no skin on television?

It is unfortunate that many people in the United States do not know how all of the "concern" for the Super Bowl breast malfunction came about.

There were no mass protests! There was no major outcry form the public!

The outcry came from a watchdog group known as the Parents Television Council.

The Parents Television Council recently blasted MTV as "smut peddlers", accusing the music cable network of targeting young viewers with oversexed programming. According to a new FCC estimate obtained by Mediaweek, 99.8 percent of indecency complaints are filed by the Parents Television Council.

In the FCC analysis dated Oct. 1st 2004, it was estimated that they had received 1,068,767 complaints about broadcast indecency in the past year. The Super Bowl broadcast accounted for over 540,000, according to statistical data.

This demonstrates that a mere tiny minority with a much focused political agenda can censor American television and radio.

This also demonstrates that if a watchdog group can somehow organize to do this type of media hijacking, then a group with even more power and more money can do the same.

That is why the term "conspiracy theorist" has taken on the meaning of "kook" or "nutcase."

That is why anyone with a different viewpoint who does not have money or power will end up being a casualty.

It has been the norm of the mainstream to determine just what is liberal and what is conservative.

Fox News is supposed to be giving us the profile of what a true conservative looks and acts like. However, what they truly give us is a world where every opinion is raped and beaten in confrontational paradigm. They make conservatism look like a war. The well groomed Sean Hannity prattles on about how the American hegemony is good for the world, while his so–called liberal sidekick adds to the conversation "We’ll be right back."

They create an illusion of what we are supposed to be like, and in effect create stereotypes and divisions. There are now Red States and Blue States, Conservatives and Liberals all looking and acting the way the networks decide.

Even Air America, in their attempts to bring some balance, creates stereotypes about liberals that make you wonder if you are being sold an image to identify with. We are all to believe that liberals are nothing more than effeminate, soft– spoken wisecrackers like Al Franken, or pseudo–lesbian brain trustees like Janeane Garofalo.

All decisions made by the Bush Administration are praised by those who report on Fox, while they are ripped to shreds by the pundits at Air America.

The predictability is astounding and the agenda is evident.

Keep the masses divided so they do not agree on anything, and keep the inner turmoil bubbling until a civil crisis puts us under a police state where no one will be above suspicion.

I really don’t think that I would be enlightening anyone by saying that the mainstream media has realized that it is solely responsible for our country’s self–image. In case you didn’t know this, then consider yourself enlightened. If it seems academic to you, then consider this a friendly reminder.

The effects of the media have become so powerful, so direct, and so brazen that it is absolutely impossible to get a new idea out to the public without going through some filter that has to have a stereotype that reflects the fears and the hatred of our society.

We have reached a process of backward engineering in the media, in which we have allowed ourselves to fall for the social programming that seems to lend itself to a blowback effect concerning stereotypes.

These stereotypes function in order to secure an attitude towards a certain agenda or ideology that we would never have dreamed of embracing in the past.

The media has no longer hidden its intentions. It has become a safe haven for corporate tampering, an engine that powers new forms of prejudice and perpetuates discrimination of different groups and persons.

It now is a tool for the division and destruction of the integrity of groups of people who feel that their views and opinions need to be heard even those views that are unpopular.

The television generation, which actually includes the many generations that have been suckled by the glass teat, is beginning to develop ambivalence and a lack of respect towards the basic freedoms that are guaranteed by our constitution.

The University of Connecticut conducted a survey of high school students concerning their knowledge and understanding of our first Amendment rights. The study questioned 112,003 students. Here are the disturbing results:

32% said that the press has too much freedom. Only 10% felt it has too little freedom.

36% said that the government should approve newspaper stories before they are released.

74% said it should be illegal to burn or deface an American flag as a political statement.

75% mistakenly believe that burning the flag is already illegal.

17% said that people should not be allowed to express unpopular views.

Nearly half of the students think that the government has the right to restrict indecent material on the Internet.

But most telling is their indifference.

75% of the students take the First Amendment for granted, or have no opinion at all.

We must understand that this indifference has to come from some source. These ideas of a controlled media and the curtailing of unpopular views must come from somewhere

If they are coming from the schools, then the education system must return to teaching children that we still have certain rights in this country. They must somehow plant the seed that these rights are fundamental and are needed in order to put checks and balances on things.

If this attitude of ambivalence is coming from the home, then we are somehow failing our children. When we watch the news on television and witness the process of education being replaced with drug therapies, we can perhaps point the finger at these evils of society. Parents have forfeited their responsibilities, deciding that it is far easier to neglect their children.

Many parents are themselves uneducated, and simply do not attempt to give their children challenges for their mind, or fight for their right to cognitive liberty and freedom of expression and views. Even unpopular views.

This is why I believe that the media has a responsibility to do what they have always been charged to do, and that is to hold big business and government accountable for their actions.