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The power of the press – how it is wielded and why

April 15, 2011

I think most reasonable people can agree, if the mainstream press did its job during the 2008 elections, Obama would not be President right now.  I’m not saying John McCain would be.  Most likely it would be Hillary Clinton.  This fact has lead many people to wonder why the Clintons, the darlings of the mainstream media until the primary season of 2007, were so unceremoniously dumped by the industry that loved them so?

The answer lies in how the majority of the press views themselves in society, it is quite different than how we view them.  Most of us hold a view of the “newsman” as some fast talking, fedora sporting seeker of the “story” as portrayed in movies from the 40’s and 50’s.  He might not have the best scruples, but his goal was to break the story, to get at the truth behind something that just didn’t add up.  Even in later iterations, like Woodward and Bernstein, portrayed in the movie All the President’s Men, this conceptual view of the newsman remains unchanged – Redford and Hoffman were valiant, courageous explorers, risking life and professional limb to “get the story”.  The true story, not the story as they saw it.

This concept of the reporter is laudable.  It speaks to our trust of the press; the belief that our government will lie to us, our businesses and employers will lie to us, hell, even our athletes will lie to us, but in the end, we can rely on the noble truth-seeking newsman to give us the skinny.  I guess we are just naïve.

If we were to analyze how the newsman looks at himself we would see the depths of our naiveté.  To the current crop of reporters, they are the shapers of society.  Sure they disseminate information and news, but only in the drips and drabs necessary to achieve a goal, most of their writing is opinion based, little is raw fact.  Understandably so, facts are boring, and no one reads boring for long.  But maintaining or growing readership is a secondary goal, as statistics have shown over the last decade.  Of course this is specific to the written word, but the reporters for other form of news media are guilty of this as well, as the viewership of certain news shows can attest.  So if the goal is not making money (as measured by how many people actually listen to what you have to say), then what is the goal?

The goal is influence.  And through influence, the exertion of power.  The news media accurately understands the power they hold in America; in many ways a power much greater than any politician could dream of wielding.  This power stems from our naiveté and the fact we truly have no other resource to get information about our society.  If not the news, whom are we to trust?  The politicians?  Most people don’t even trust the guy they voted for.  How about your friendly neighborhood bureaucrat?  Yeah, thought so.  The truth is, we have to rely on someone to tell us what is going on.  None of us have the resources nor the time to sit in on press briefings.  None of us have the influence to get an one-on-one interview with the President to ask him all the hardball questions we so want to.  Thus, we are forced to rely on the people who do.

So how is this power manifested?  The first thing we need to observe is the typical stance of the majority of media towards our society.  How would you describe it?  I would describe it in a simple word: contrarian. Almost everything reported in the mainstream media is contrary to the views of the majority of America.  Most Americans don’t trust Islam, so the media reports how tolerant and peaceful that religion is.  Most Americans don’t want Obamacare, so the media reports how great it is and how it is so needed.  Most Americans want the government to stop spending, so the media reports how spending is not a problem, and entitlement reform is a waste because the Big Three are solvent.   When the war on terror was popular, the media hated it.  Now that it is old news, the media loves it.  Many would suggest these views happen to coincide with a progressive political stance, but in my opinion that is a happy coincidence for many reporters.  For sure, most of them are hardcore leftists, but their goal is not their ideology in so much that it is power through influence.

So how come the contrarian stance?  Because power not wielded is power wasted.  To quote General Striker from Spies Like Us, “A weapon unused, is a useless weapon.”  What influential power is exercised by the press parroting the views of the majority of Americans?  None.  The power to influence can only be manifested by convincing Americans that their views are wrong.  You want a gay-marriage ban?  The media is going to change your mind, they are going to shape American thinking, they will be the arbiter’s of society.  That is the goal of the press.

The majority of newsmen believe in the concept of the average man as being a stupid, unmotivated piece of clay to be prodded and shaped.  The people above them, the one’s smart enough and motivated enough to do the shaping, are the politicians.  But it doesn’t stop there.  There is one more group of people, smarter than all the others combined.  The newsmen themselves!  They are the eyes, ears and voice of society.  They can make or destroy a politician with the flourish of a pen.  To the newsman, society is a canvas with which to exercise every whim of their power.  Americans dislike communists, prove them wrong.  Americans dislike Islam, prove them wrong.  Americans dislike Venezuelan dictators, prove them wrong.

The leftist slant can not be overlooked.  For to even think like a typical newsman, one has to be a leftist in the first place.  One has to believe they are smarter, more motivated and purer than the average muldoons with which they ride the train in the morning.  But believing you are better is only half the equation, many rightists believe the same way.  The other side of the equation is to believe you have the right, nay, the obligation, to fix your inferiors.  So yes, in almost every case of the contrarian nature of the media, it is geared to a leftist view, but that is understandable.  When you take a look at America, and decide to wield your power of influence, you have two choices to be contrary, either right or left of the status quo.  When you are a leftist, it would be absurd to go right.  So left is the only option.  But again, it is not about reaching the socialist utopia, that is secondary.  The objective is to prove their power.

Why do you think every major news source has a polling arm?  What good does it do for ABC News to have polling data?  To report on how the majority of those polled think?  No, because in the strictest sense that is pretty droll information, though lately, as we have become inundated with polls, they are becoming much more of a news source than before.  But the true reason behind the polling arm of the media is to gauge the views of America for the sake of the newsman.  Its hard to be contrary without evidence to prove to yourself you are actually being contrary.  How do you know you are accurately wielding your power of influence without a method to gauge that influence?  That is the reason behind the polls.

So that takes us back to a lowly freshmen senator named Barack Hussein Obama.  His credentials were staggering, well, not really but it doesn’t matter.  What matters was he was contrary.  The polling data, the man on the street, your freaking hairdresser, were all ready for the next iteration of a Clinton White House.  She most certainly had the Democratic Party primary locked up.  So why did the press dump her and go with the dark horse from Chicago?  Because power not wielded is useless power.

Supporting Hillary Clinton was not even remotely contrarian, in fact, it would have been considered mainstream at the time.  People had so much Bush fatigue, the thought of McCain ruling for four years was nauseating to say the least.  The press saw a chance to wield its power in the empty suit of a nationally unheard of senator from Illinois.  And they went whole hog.  Over night, Clinton was dumped and Obama was the newest media darling.

And the rest is history.  Clinton, the mainstream candidate was knocked off, and Obama, the most contrarian candidate in history was elected.  The press proved its power.  The press pulled a coup on the American people like none other in our history.  Obviously, the contrarian view of the press is self-defeating if they make someone popular, by their very nature they would be forced to go against the person they elevated (like Hillary), so they are going to ride Obama’s fame as long as they can, pumping up his unpopular policies until the gig is up, then he will be dumped for the next contrary candidate, probably Hillary.

It is an interesting and dangerous game the press plays, always choosing to be on the wrong side of history.  But I think the media has proven it is very good at what it does, being contrary and making that view mainstream.  If ever you need a gauging of the majority of America on a certain issue, don’t bother looking for polling data or some worthless survey, just go crack open a New York Times.  Whatever they say, you can be sure that America thinks the opposite.

23 Comments leave one →
  1. Mike permalink
    April 15, 2011 1:08 pm

    Very good and I’m going to at least copy and print it. I have a couple of emails with interesting info that you might like.
    “Semper Fi”

    “There is only Gold and Steel;and the bodies of women and sometimes song” A quote from Samos to Tarl Cabot in one of the “Gor” novels published years ago.

    And this is my quote to finish up the above. “All else is Bullshit”

    • April 15, 2011 7:15 pm

      Thanks so much. You are free to do as you wish with it, just please do give me credit. =)

      • Mike permalink
        April 16, 2011 11:04 am

        I was thinking of copy and then paste into an email and even printing it. I do have a web site and a blog but I don’t do much as far as things like this site and others like it. Mostly pictures for family and friends and old classmates. Our 50th. class reunion is this August and I want everyone to see the pictures that are already there and then do the new ones after the reunion. Go here.
        http:// miketrani dot com slash blog/
        also here

      • April 16, 2011 11:45 am

        Cool pics, is the smaller dog a Scotty? She is pretty cute. =)

        Have fun at your reunion. =)

  2. April 15, 2011 3:51 pm

    Your theory is very interesting. The puzzle of why Hillary got dumped in favor of Obama has been unsolved in my mind. I was overseas then, and not following the campaigns carefully. I was gobsmacked when Obama got the nomination.

    Good food for though, Fleecy. Well written too.

  3. April 15, 2011 3:51 pm

    Thought, not though. Good food for thought. argh

    • April 15, 2011 7:18 pm

      Thanks. =)

      I think the whole world was stuck with awe at his nomination. Most of the cries from my friends and myself were, “Who the hell is he?” Not much has changed, lol. Okay, that isn’t funny. =(

  4. April 15, 2011 5:09 pm

    Excellent analysis of what the mainstream press has become!

    The only thing I would add is this: The contrarianism mentioned here is the direct result of the counterculture of the 1960s. We’re reliving the 1960s — with the counterculturalists in charge of the media. No wonder the media shilled and continues to shill for Obama.

    The other side of the equation is to believe you have the right, nay, the obligation, to fix your inferiors.

    The same old utopianism: “I know what’s best for you, and I’ll force that something down your throat — one way or the other.”

    • April 15, 2011 7:23 pm

      The 1960’s are a big part of it, but the press had a strong sense of contrarianism (a new word!) before that time too. Part is understandable. One would argue to be a good journalist, a healthy dose of skepticism would be requirement number one, which looking to the contrary view would typically be a manifestation thereof. But take communism for an example, the press were in the bag for Sacco and Vanzetti, many still claiming those commie bastards were innocent. That took place in 1920.

      Of course, it is just a theory, I could be wrong, lol.

      • April 16, 2011 8:07 am

        I agree that the press was contrarian before the indoctrination of the 1960s. Indeed, in the Sacco and Vanzetti case, the bleeding hearts were a strong presence. The same can be said for the Leopold and Loeb case.

        With regard to Sacco and Vanzetti, the 1920s did have a strong presence of Communists as Marxism was all the rage. And many Communists then were overt or nearly so.

        And let’s remember that anarchy was all the rage in the early part of the 20th Century.

        But I think that today we see that the press is even more anti-establishment. I attribute much of that contrarianism to what these people were taught at the university level — if not before.

      • April 16, 2011 8:36 am

        I can’t argue with your points, especially about what journalists are taught in school. But some of what they are “taught” is the power of the press manifest. They learn, and idolize, in almost heroic figures, of Woodward and Bernstein “taking down a president”, and I can assure you, many nowadays hold dear in their hearts the even more amazing feat of “electing the nobody”. To a nerdy, emo, editor of the High School fish-wrap, these are herculean myths, only real. These folks grow up dreaming of the ability to do the same.

  5. April 15, 2011 10:57 pm

    You’re on fire this week Fleece. I can see your point about being contrarian. I wonder how much longer they will continue to wield that power since their audience is declining.

    • April 16, 2011 12:17 am

      Thanks so much. =)

      The majority of the media is consolidating, Time-Warner, AOL, and lets not forget what the MS in MSNBC stands for. No longer is a newspaper the sole revenue vehicle for a a single company, now it is written off as a loss, a necessary evil in the greater realm of “doing business”. If viewership was important to MSNBC and other MSM shows, then they wouldn’t report how they report; these people aren’t stupid (I mean the one’s actually in charge), they understand exactly why their ratings are declining, as well they understand why Fox’s are increasing. If they cared, they would do the obvious – stop being so contrary, cater to their viewers and make money.

      • JustFacts permalink
        April 16, 2011 6:43 am

        In general, Fleece, I would agree with you, but there is one other aspect of all of this. All of these organizations are publicly traded companies. They have to make money, or the can’t continue to exist. People won’t buy their stock if they don’t make money. The stockholders, in general, don’t buy the stock for idealogical purposes. They buy the stock to make money (those evil capitalists). So, being contrarian can only go so far. Look at Air America (well you can’t look at it any more, thank goodness). No matter how many times they tried, and how much money was infused into it by left-wing idealogues, the business model just would not work. No one was buying the crap they were offering – either programming-wise or advertising-wise. And, even George Soros couldn’t, or wouldn’t, keep it afloat.

        Another aaspect I think you failed to take into account is the contribution of Reuters and AP (I mean even UPI couldn’t continue to make it). There is very little coverage of national/international events by local journalists. It is virtually all done through Reuters or AP. So pretty much all of the printed (or online) bylines you read have their moniker preceding them.

        But, not to worry, our government has a plan for us. We will all be getting our news programming from NGR (National Government Radio) after they institute the “fairness” doctrine and the national internet ID numbers. We won’t be allowed to watch or listen to the likes of Rush Limbaugh or Glenn Beck, because they won’t adhere to the NGR line.

      • April 16, 2011 8:47 am

        You bring up some good points.

        As far as Air America goes, it had two things going against it. First, it was pay to play – it was on a subscription based satellite radio service, which although can claim a good amount of subscribers, can not even come close to television or radio (for syndicated shows). Secondly, it was so overt. Overtly ideological new sources are not popular with the American people – the key to the Major media sources is that they must pretend that they are unbiased. The y must propagate the myth that “they tell the story” with “no spin”. Whether they do it or not is secondary, but they have to be able to claim it to stay in the mainstream, which will bode bad for MSNBC and their increasingly overt nature; they are only succeeding in marginalizing their message more than it already is.

        Now to AP and Reuters, I think they actually prove my point more than any other example. Talk about nameless, faceless, entrenched journalists. The AP serves as excellent cover for a newspaper. If the AP story a paper prints pisses off its readers, it can rationalized away by the editor easily, all he has to say is, “We didn’t write it, this was an AP story, we apologize if it offended some of our readers.” So papers can print the message, without suffering the backlash for so doing. Not to mention, practically every media outlet subscribes to these services, so on a guess (I didn’t look it up) I would presume they are doing okay financially.

        Didn’t UPI get bought by Reuters?

  6. April 16, 2011 9:18 am

    Excellent concluding paragraph. History will inevitably notice who is on its wrong side. This is the ultimate achilles heel of the criminally biased MSM.

    “Because the Only Good Progressive is a Failed Progressive”

  7. bunkerville permalink
    April 16, 2011 4:36 pm

    Excellent post. The Progressives are so far ahead of us, that the “news” is so underground now. No one digs. We are left in the dark until way after the facts and then it is too late. I cannot believe that what is happening now was not planted decades ago and simply being acted out now as if in a script.

    • April 16, 2011 6:09 pm

      I think they have always done it, but traditional media (newsprint) has until just a few decades ago been a local news source evidenced by the strength and renown of certain papers like the New York Times, Washington Post, La Times and Chicago Tribune, coincidence they all call liberal strongholds home? It was not until the advent of the television news broadcast that the media could really begin to flex its muscles on a national scale.


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