20 August 2006

Why the TV newscasts are focused on the Ramsey case

TV Media all over JonBenet's Corpse, while discarding treatment to critical stories on Constitutional issues.
In a media system dominated by entertainment conglomerates, it's no accident that we're served up a steady stream of "top" stories saturated by sex, violence and celebrity: OJ, Princess Di, JonBenet, JFK Jr., Condit/Levy, child abductions (especially upper-middle class blonde girls), Laci Peterson, the runaway bride, the missing teen in Aruba, etc.

Let's face it: The Murdochs and Disneys and Time Warners and GEs that own our media system much prefer a nation of mindless consumers and spectators over a nation of informed, active citizens. They like the fact that avid TV viewers know all the intimate details about the JonBenet or OJ murder cases - and almost nothing about how big corporations lobby against middle-class interests in Washington.

Best of all to TV news managers, tabloid stories are cheap to cover, especially when pundits or legal experts can fill up hours of time with their (often ridiculously wrong) speculation. And these are stories that can't possibly offend powerful forces in Washington, or advertisers.

Over the last few days, anytime I heard radio hosts devote time to the Ramsey case, I impulsively, instinctively and immediately toggled the tuner to dial in another station. Really, some mentally unbalanced kook cries out a obviously suspect confession (given the truth of the case and his travels), and that moves all other news off the plate? And where is the media at in all the rest of abhorrent child murder cases. Or is the lavish attention just for rich white girls?

Cohen is correct — these sorts of stories are treasured by the media barons — they are cheap to cover and there is no risk of offending powerful interests by digging into controversial issues.


There is no conspiracy here, I think the reason the news media is focused on JonBenet's Corpse is because the American people are interested in the JonBenet story. Americans like us, who really care about politics, are in the minority.

With the internet, CNN and Fox and other news stations can determine by user clicks, which stories get the most press, and so which stories to focus on, and which to ignore.

Your comments remind me of something Ward Churchill said:


You are blaming the American media for apathy. When in reality most Americans are apethitic, nonpolitical people who simply don't care.

Life is generally good in America. Americans are fat, they have a lot of material goods, and many still believe in the American dream. Until a major disaster personally happens in their life, they dont give a flying fuck about some arcane bill moving through congress, they don't give a fuck about who we kill and how we kill them to keep their standard of living high. The sad thing is, Americans are not alone in being apethetic creatures: it is human nature.

Hotel Rwanda:

Scene two

[Jack is showing Fleming footage he acquired of the genocide and Paul overhears.]

Fleming: What is this?

(Jack Daglish puts tape into VCR and then looks at Paul. He hesitates as they make eye contact and then exits. Fleming begins to view tape. He picks up the phone and dials a number.)

Fleming: (over his shoulder to Rwandan) Where did you get this?

Rwandan: Half a mile down the road.

Fleming: (into phone) Fred, it’s David. I’ve got incredible footage. It’s a massacre--dead bodies, machetes. If I get this through right away, can you make the evening news? (He pauses to listen.) Yeah. (He pauses again.) You have to lead with this.

(Scene cuts to the hotel lobby, where Jack Daglish is sitting with a lady. Paul enters.)

Paul: Excuse me, Mr. Daglish.

Jack Daglish: Hey, Paul. Listen, sorry about earlier. If I’d known you were in there, I wouldn’t have—

Paul: I am glad that you have showed this footage, and the world will see it. It is the only way we have a chance, that people might intervene.

Jack Daglish: "And if no one intervenes, is it still a good thing to show? "

Paul: "How can they not intervene, When they witness such atrocities?

Jack Daglish: "I think if people see this footage, they'll say, 'Oh my God that's horrible,' and then go on eating their dinners." [http://www.thesource4ym.com...]
Trav, no claim that there is a "conspiracy", just the salient truth that these sorts of stories (i.e., Ramsey, Levy, Michael Jackson...) are (a) easier to cover, (b) cheaper to cover, (c) contain less concern for truthfulness, and most importantly (d) don't shake up powerful interests like say reporting on government abuse and injustice and/or corporate malfeasance.

My apologies for using the word "conspiracy", since it does not appear in the article, albeit that is generally what is being described. A small group of capitalists are manipulating the general population, not because the news media is giving the general population what they want, but because a group of capitalists want all of America to ignore the new internet laws going through Congress. No one likes the word "conspiracy" attached to their ideas, but as the infamous Guatemala Communist Duck Test states: "If it quacks like a duck, walks like a duck, and looks like a duck...."

I have read a couple of books about how the American Media manipulates the poor gullible American population. (The Rise and Fall of Professional Journalism, McChesney, Robert; Chomsky, Noam, Propaganda and the Public Mind; Into the Buzzsaw: Leading Journalists Expose the Myth of a Free Press) It is a common theme in leftist circles. The books always have the underlying premise that if the news media would only focus on what is important, than somehow American's civil conscience would be aroused.

For some reason these arguments always ran hallow for me. I saw through the "victim status" that the left peddles, so does Churchill and other historians/authors. (Including Goldhagen, Daniel Jonah, Hitler's Willing Executioners: Ordinary Germans and the Holocaust; Miller, Stuart Creighton, Benevolent Assimilation: The American Conquest of the Philippines, 1899-1903; Loewen, James W., Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong)

Cohen is simply recycling the same conspiracy, and you appear to be buying it. (cont...)

As Churchill states:

Progressives, on the other hand, while acknowledging many of America’s more reprehensible features...have become quite monolithic in attributing all things negative to handy abstractions like “capitalism,” “the state,” “structural oppression,” and, yes, “the hierarchy.” Hence, they have been able to conjure what might be termed the “miracle of immaculate genocide,” a form of genocide, that is, in which—apart from a few amorphous “decision-making élites” —there are no actual perpetrators and no one who might “really” be deemed culpable by reason of complicity. The parallels between this “cutting edge” conception and the defense mounted by postwar Germans—including the nazis at Nuremberg—are as eerie as they are obvious. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wik..., full article: http://www.altpr.org/module...)

Can you accept the idea that ordinary Germans perpetrated and actively supported the extermination of the Jews? In Hitler's Willing Executioners: Ordinary Germans and the Holocaust, Daniel Jonah Goldhagen makes an overwhelming case that ordinary Germans actively helped exterminate the Jews.

If you can accept German's crimes against humanity, why can't you, and other leftist accept that large majority of Americans actively support what our government is doing abroad? And they simply don't care. As I mentioned above, as long as Americans are well fed to the point of obesity, still believe in the American dream and have hope, and retain the same standard of living, Americans simply don't give a shit.

I agree with the "d" but I disagree with a, b, and c.

(a) easier to cover,
(b) cheaper to cover,
(c) contain less concern for truthfulness, and most importantly
(d) don't shake up powerful interests like say reporting on government abuse and injustice and/or corporate malfeasance.

(a) (b) I disagree with because JonBenet alleged killer was caught in a foreign country. Which one is cheaper and easier to cover: traveling across the world to interview a killer, or having your Washington bureau cover the treatment of critical stories on Constitutional issues?

(c) contain less concern for truthfulness, and most importantly. This is a judgment call, I can't argue this.

So I only agree with (d). That said, it seems like (d) is based on the underlying premise that if only the gullible American public new about what was going on, they would do something about it. I argue that the news media is only a reflection of the interests of the American Public. The reason that the news media doesn't care about Constitutional issues is because most Americans don't care about Consititutional issues. Given a slick tabloid story about JonBenet and Consititutional issues, Americans will click on the JonBenet story EVERY TIME.

You did not respond to what I wrote before:

You are blaming the American media for apathy. When in reality most Americans are apethitic, nonpolitical people who simply don't care.

With the internet, CNN and Fox and other news stations can determine BY USER CLICKS, which stories get the most press, which are the most interesting to people, and so therefore, which stories to focus on, and which to ignore. (modified statement)

Later gator.

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