Saturday, September 09, 2006

The Path to "The Path to 911."

Lost in the sturm, angst and acrimony swirling around ABC and Disney’s docudrama “The Path to 911” is any discussion of how it came to this. Why did executives at the giant media conglomerate feel free to make deliberately deceptive fiction out of well-documented fact?

Because they they could. That’s why. And because they thought that an increasingly-mediocre, cowed and right-leaning mainstream media would let them get away with it.

Recent history is full of examples of the mainstream media allowing fringe groups to play fast and loose with the truth while the mainstream media itself plays slow and dumb.

The mainstream media stood aside and allowed 2004’s Swift Boat Veterans for Truth to mug John Kerry. The mainstream media let Senate Majority Leader and physician William Frist’s diagnose brain dead Terri Schiavo via videotape without question. In the months leading up to the invasion of Iraq, mainstream media outlets like Fox News waved the flag and beat the war drums unrelentingly.

And in the small hours of Election Night 2000, with Florida up for grabs, Fox’s Election Desk, (with George W. Bush’s cousin working there) called the state for George Bush. Over at General Electric’s NBC, GE CEO Jack Welsh then pushed hard to get his people to follow Fox. They did. Other mainstream networks followed, creating a perception the Gore campaign could not overcome. It was a hop, skip and jump from there to the remarkably flawed but never journalistically-challenged Bush vs Gore decision.

And so on. And so forth. Back through the Clinton impeachment. Past Monica’s blue dress, through Whitewater and Hilary’s vast right wing conspiracy, all the way to the point where Ronald Reagan’s FCC eliminated the Fairness Doctrine in 1987 (allowing radio and television stations to forego any legal responsibility to present an opposing point of view).

No Edward R. Murrow moments for modern mainstream media types, thank you. A unique combination of mediocrity, insider, “cool kid” status-conscious myopia, and corporate clout in the newsroom has made sure of that, They can’t tell us the emperor has no clothes. They don’t even know they are naked themselves.

Some on the right would argue that the people in the mainstream media are liberal. Some are. Some are not. It would be more intellectually honest to say that ideas such as a free press and free speech – and organizations that work to protect those ideas – require a commitment to constitutional values that is somehow easier for liberals to embrace.

Meanwhile, at the other end of the political spectrum, beyond the most rabid and wild-eyed conservative individuals, corporations like ABC and Disney feel free to exploit values like free speech and the free press in order to accrue profits and power. And because they own the mainstream media itself, they can.


Anonymous L Weed said...

I thought Disney was supposedly an American company, not a Republican company. Every good liberal who owns stock in that company should sell it.

12:23 PM  

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