Wednesday, September 20, 2023

...and who is the enemy?

              A favorite saying from the 1970's struck me as I commiserated this era of dysfunction, threat and exasperating stupidity.
        "We have met the enemy and he is us."

        Walt Kelly inked that line for his character Pogo and it was meant as a defeated recognition that "us" was the enemy behind pollution and environmental destruction. The cartoonist had parodied a battle report from American Naval Commander Oliver Perry to Major General William Henry Harrison after the US defeated the British Navy in the Battle of Lake Erie in the War of 1812. Perry had written "We have met the enemy and they are ours." 

        Pogo's phrase is again a fit vituperation for what has become of "us" in this time. We are our own enemy.
        To be sure, there are many variants in the epidemic of stupidity. I beg a moment of your attention to address one that I know a lot about.

        Media is off focus, out of proportion, increasingly ephemeral and wrong headed. In defense of the profession where I spent a half century laboring, there are places of excellence and too there are many reasons for the demise we witness.
        So much of broadcast news, print journalism and on-line is a waste of time and even silly. This is what happens when newspapers are killed by financial vultures, when reporting and editing staffs are thinned to ludicrous levels so profits are boosted, when broadcast and print are forced into the blender of social media, a world of platforms that do not operate by the old journalism codes of conduct, ethics or canons. The public's "right to know" is now an afterthought, if even that, and it has become part of the broil that is ratings, revenue, investment portfolios, news deserts and a who cares attitude. 

        Some things are fixable. 
        Stop obsessing about the latest opinion poll. That is not news, it is a contrivance.
         There are flaws in using polling as news, not the least of which is that most polls today are skewed, flukey, and even if they are scientific they are nothing more than a view shared on that day by a small number of people. There is no guarantee about scientific precision or weighting. 
        Many so called polls and surveys are fronts for political operators.
        Good pollsters tell you political polls this far out mean nothing more than the dental floss you will discard tonight. Yet news groups, including those who should know better, ballyhoo and hype the latest assessment of America's mindset. 
        Ask yourself, with the rampant stupidity at large, with the miserable understanding of history by most Americans who were educated in the last 40 years, with the gullibility of generations pounded by advertising and behavioral manipulation for the transactions of a consumer market of things and stuff, do you really care what this age of polled opinions have to say. Given the givens, what is the value of turning what they think into news?!  Here's the news about that, they don't know any more than you do and likely they know a lot less. So why celebrate ignorance and opinions? The story the media is missing is how poorly informed, how inarticulate and how dumb this nation is becoming.  

        There is an underpinning factor that leads the young precious news staffers of this age to care so much about opinion poll reporting, aside from the fact they have all been raised in an age of click bait, and that is the unholy belief that Presidential politics is the holy grail and be all of US News, followed closely by all electoral politics. There is an electoral/political industry that has emerged and it is huge business, a cash cow for pollsters, analysts, consultants, media specialists, speechwriters, fashion advisors, advertisers and more. This billion dollar industry relies on and manipulates its kindred news business. 
        Time was broadcast news was a loss leader, the cost of having a license to print money. Now it is a profit center and news is just a product. 

        Let's be clear, this election cycle is critical to the survival of representative democracy. One party has abandoned belief in the historical American system of government with winners and losers and transitions of power. When US media cast any reporting outside of that reality, when they engage in a false equivalency or the so called "equal" time philosophy they are being suckered in by strategy and tactics of those who seek to destroy American democracy. It is time for the news industry to reassess how to proceed on a war footing, in a time of information warfare.

       Before we depart this issue of overplaying, hyping, tying almost every story to an old fashioned political peg, if you think I am wrong, then consider the players. Examine the people and the values they display, from school boards to the US House and Senate. 

        Truth, facts, and liberty are are the abused and battered family members of our American democracy at this moment in our history. That is part of a political strategy and goal and media is an accomplice. There is an off ramp.

        Because of who and what this nation is and has been through, you have influence both on media and on the political industry. If you get organized or loud enough you can apply pressure. You can boycott, put pressure on advertisers, disconnect, avoid media, get in the face of elected representatives, call them out, vote them out. 

        Do what you can to activate your philosophy. Stick to the facts. Speak the truth. Remember both leading presidential candidates are essentially the same age, there is a 3 year difference. Would you know by media coverage?
        That's the view from the ridge, the opinion of one who thinks democracy is the best choice of any form of government.

        See you down the trail.