The Lincoln Plawg - the blog with footnotes

Politics and law from a British perspective (hence Politics LAW BloG): ''People who like this sort of thing...'' as the Great Man said

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Thursday, April 21, 2005

Bernstein's fantasy attack on showbizzed journalism

Watergate's Carl Bernstein get kudos from Bob Somerby (not the easiest guy for a journo to please!) for a speech in Lawrence, KS.

The quote pulled is this:
The consequences to a society that is misinformed and disinformed by the grotesque values of this idiot culture are truly perilous. For the first time in our history, the weird, the stupid, the coarse, the sensational and the untrue are becoming our cultural norm, even our cultural ideal.

Really? The
the first time in our history?

When exactly does that history start? Do Caligula and Nero feature, I wonder?

Or does our imply a purely domestic (and post-Columbian) vista? That would let in the Salem Witch Trials, of course. And that minor matter of slavery - plenty of regular Democrats once thought that that was an ideal, I believe! It was certainly an American cultural norm.

And let's not forget Topsy the Elephant who that man of engineering and science Thomas Edison was pleased to have electrocuted for the amusement of those with greenbacks to part with as recently as 1903.

And (since we've limited ourselves to American history) what of that essentially American pastime, the church picnic lynching, the God-fearing, men women and children, in their Sunday best reaffirming community values by roasting a nigger or two.

(And such barbecues went on long after poor Topsy sizzled, of course. And were endorsed, by omission, by that legislative ideal, the US Senate.)

And the KKK, and the Dionne Quins...

You see where I'm going here?

And, coming into Bernstein's own era, the Cold War ideology that fathered the Vietnam War - and ensured that the American press did nothing effective towards preventing it, despite having good reason to fear the worst - was certainly a cultural norm which allowed the stupid and untrue to flourish sheltered from effective criticism.

Perhaps the Great Man's words make perfect sense in the context of his entire speech.

By themselves, they are arrant and total bollocks.

(It's not a playground question of choosing sides: so what if Bernstein is attacking the same media whose loathsome practices I've chronicled here?

Exchanging one version of cloud cuckoo land for another is not my idea of media reform!)


One of Wonkette's little helpers has another beef with the speech: self-plagiarism.

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