Wright from Washington City

January 17, 2000


Minitrue and the candidates


In the Washington Post's Style section for January 12, there's a puff piece on Al Gore's campaign press secretary. It starts out:

"When Time reporter Karen Tumulty learned that Vice President Gore would grant her a brief interview in a car, she sought advice from an unlikely source: Gore's spokesman, Chris Lehane.

"'You don't normally shop your questions with the press secretary,' Tumulty says. 'But he was helpful in framing questions that got provocative answers. He's one of those rare press secretaries that can actually help you think through a story.'

"The interview wound up being touted on Time's cover.... "

Further along, the story says that Lehane "has been overheard planting news conference questions with less experienced reporters." On top of that, he cleverly found a way to get around the problem of releasing Gore's medical records during the flap about Bradley's minor heart problems. He wanted Gore's health to be compared favorably with Bradley's, but didn't want to be blatant about it. The solution? According to the Post, Lehane "asked reporters to formally request the records in writing, which enabled him to release the information without being portrayed as insensitive."

Asking planted questions? Getting help from press secretaries to "think through" stories? Can we even call such creatures "reporters"?

This is one more example of how the "news" media are becoming more and more open about their role as the de facto propaganda arm of the state: our Ministry of Truth, with Time filling the role of "Signal," the Nazis' wartime propaganda magazine. In fact, increasingly they're behaving as if they are  the state, with their persistent talk of being the public's "gatekeepers" for information.

National political candidates are totally dependent on the news media. If you're part of the in-crowd, you get the kind of lickspittle treatment enjoyed by Gore's campaign. If you're a typical Republican — part of the Establishment, but not entirely respectable — they treat you nice for a while before planting land mines in front of you or dredging up rumors about your molesting your dog when you were 14.

If they decide you haven't got a chance, or you're not glamorous enough, or you're too ugly, you don't get any coverage. If you're not "mainstream" enough, but have enough of a following to be troublesome, like Patrick Buchanan, you're smeared. In any case, you don't get to participate in those televised beauty contests called "debates." And if less-favored candidates tried to get out of the news outlets' stranglehold by holding their own debates (or if, say, Bush and McCain wanted to avoid having a debate run by the odious Tim Russert), again they simply wouldn't get any coverage. Heads they win, tails you lose.

And now Time Warner, the largest "news" and entertainment entity in the world, is merging with AOL, the biggest Internet service provider. The Net, of course, is the major thorn in the side of Minitrue as it attempts to achieve a total information monopoly. Both corporate entities are warbling about the new opportunities for "social responsibility" made possible by the merger. My blood runs cold just thinking about it.


© 2000 by WTM Enterprises. All rights reserved.

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