Agenda Journalism

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Add to this witches’ brew the ingredients of intellectual dishonesty and  left-liberal politics, and we have a fairly accurate portrait of the average contemporary journalist, whether posted abroad or sabotaging the home front. Such ineptitude coupled with undeniable bigotry plays into the hands of an editorial chauvinism that seeks to control public opinion. In effect, such a corporate monopoly of opinion disguised as news along with its practical irrefutability by dint of excessive repetition has become nothing less than a form of intellectual terrorism. Political analyst David Warren states in the Ottawa Citizen, “I must say—without qualification—that our mainstream media are, despite their protestations of innocence and ‘objectivity,’ objectively working for the enemy.” Be that as it may, there can be little doubt that they are certainly working for their ideological allies.

Of course, the media not only misrepresent the news, they also seek to create it in a process we might call “inventive journalism,” a subcategory of agenda journalism. That is, news is not only misreported, it is often concocted out of whole cloth. The al-Durah hoax perpetrated by France TV-2 remains perhaps the signature instance of recent media malfeasance. But the parade of simulated “realities” that characterizes much of current journalism is a long and flamboyant one. As I showed in The Big Lie, almost every major news service is implicated. But what is perhaps most striking is the evident lack of common sense and intelligent skepticism on the part of the public—or, at any rate, a substantial segment of it.

For example, in a particular “news” clip dealing with the aftermath of the fighting in Jenin during the Second Intifada, the camera zooms in on a solitary Palestinian grandmother sitting in a wheelchair in the middle of a large, empty field littered with wheel-defying debris while BBC commentator Orla Guerin rues her plight. The obvious question is how a wheelchair propelled, as we are meant to believe, by a frail, elderly woman across a field strewn with rubble could have gotten there in the first place. It can only have been deliberately planted, like a theatrical prop carried in from the wings and set center stage for the critical scene. The BBC clearly expected this constructed episode to be accepted at face value, confident that the common viewer would not recognize that a trick had been played on him and would not be disposed to interrogate the producers chuckling in the coulisse.

And this is the nub of the issue. By and large, the political zealotry and tendentious reporting of the News media, in both Europe and North America, depend on the public’s gullibility. The effect is far worse than that of the controlled press of the world’s autocratic regimes spouting the party line since, in the latter case, there is always the possibility of intellectual resistance among those of independent spirit. Pravda and Izvestia, for example, the official organs of state-vetted “news” in the former Soviet Union, did not wholly succeed in forging public opinion to Sovnarkom’s and the Politburo’s satisfaction. Many “consumers” understood they were being manipulated and were justifiably skeptical of the totalitarian project. Instead, they produced a robust samizdat literature to counter such attempts at thought control and the imposition of political uniformity.

In the contemporary West, it is different. There are redeeming exceptions but, generally speaking, a poorly educated citizenry subject to the increasingly unfounded impression that it benefits from the tutelage of a “free press” is more easily exploited than a citizenry that realizes it is laboring under a despotic authority. As noted, many of those in the Eastern bloc who chafed under the Communist tyranny were savvier than we are. Even a not inconsiderable portion of the theologically and politically oppressed Islamic ummah can parry media indoctrination, as the Green Revolution in Iran and the current revolt in Syria demonstrate. But in the West, with its assumption of unfettered access to the flow of information—what qualifies as “news”—and its illusion of intellectual autonomy and fact-based impartial judgment, the deception goes to the very core of thinking. People tend to be more subtly and therefore more effectively managed—the medium is the massage, in a way that Marshall McLuhan did not envisage in punning on his original insight.

Media apparatchiks are perfectly aware of the credulous nature of their readers and viewers. Not only do they take advantage of it, they do everything in their power to confirm and “anchor” it. As Andrew Klavan points out, the majority of our journalists are working for the Left or a “liberal” constituency, attempting “not to elicit information but…to arouse emotions rather than thoughts” in the service of an ulterior progressivist design. “They make us stupid,” he concludes, “because stupid is how they want us.” The consequence is chastening. Far too many of us have been craftily seduced into believing that raw opinion and cognitive gerrymandering constitute objective reporting and that we are  encountering a free press when we have become the intellectual peons of a media establishment practicing agenda journalism. We would have been better off reading Pravda.

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  • Brain

    Glad at least one percent of the journalists out there have some semblance of integrity and tact. I myself am tired of searching for the truth when those who claim to tout it lie to my face through TV, internet, and print. Good article, it's a shame that it will fall on so many deaf ears though.

  • JustSayin'

    I would buy this article's arguments if everyone agreed on one thing — No one has the right to torture or kill an innocent person. However, whether it's Fox News or MoveOn.Org, the right and left have never actually put themselves under God's law and we are reaping the ugly fruits of both sides torture of innocents as we approach a world war. Your own Web site employs Jamie Glazov, who cries tears over how leftists harassed his family in the Soviet Union, but who turns positively gleeful when describing the great Ronald Reagan, a man whose administration sanctified the murder and torture of Irish Catholics as well as thousands and thousands of innocent Latin Americans. I despise the right and the left for their coddling of mass murderers and torturers, from Pinochet to Castro, Thatcher to Reagan, Saddam to Salazar. Please don't act like you're better than the left — you're not. The only difference is whose souls you sear. What kind of a person thinks they're "right" for supporting an idiot like Bush over a jackal like Obama? They're BOTH a threat to our future — the only decent man running for president is Ron Paul, but the Republican globalists will make sure their Obama Lite candidate Romney gets the nomination. And you folks at FP will celebrate his victory as if it means something when all it means as that the launch to the globalist system of slavery continues unimpeded.

  • Jim_C

    Several thoughts.

    Commentary, though "journalism" of a sort, is not really journalism, and thus has much more leeway in terms of bias. So a commentator may say something you vehemently disagree with–but that's his job. If a commentator is anti-Bush, or anti-Clinton, or whatever, so be it.

    Reportage, on the other hand, should be held to a more rigorous standard. Many here will decry the "water carrying" for the democrats (as many democrats will decry journalist's water carrying for big business).

    But the salient point made in this article with regard to serious journalism is in the pretensions to expertise–and it's flipside: the shameless lack of such.

    There are many, many talented journalists of the highest quality, most operating without regard to fame or face time. And we probably take their work for granted.

    But all too often, the cushiest jobs in journalism go to the well-connected and well-heeled, and very often these people have led rather sheltered lives to begin with. Thus, it is with smugness they approach their work.

    I think of two examples of the serious failure of (mainstream) journalism in recent times: the complacency and collusion in the run-up to the Iraq War; and the idiotic questions for the Bush Administration once that ill-conceived war started. On one hand, you had Washington cronyism dropping the ball as far as information to the public. On the other, you had a (red-faced?) press with seemingly no idea what sorts of questions are even appropriate for a commander-in-chief in wartime. Not any sense of historical context whatsoever.

    That said, we news/politics junkies know where to go for information, and how to weigh it against other info. And as the article rightly points out, bias in journalism actually was actually the norm for most of our history (and English history). So the skill, these days, is critical thinking and reading. That's all. No longer are we "ministered to" through our TVs at dinner time.

    • Carl

      Yes, bias in journalism has been part of our history. But those rags didn't deny it. You knew who published them and therefore knew the leanings of the paper. Today, reputable newspapers like the New York Times deny partisanship while at the same time deliver it every day. On top of this, they consider themselves THE highest standard of journalism and have convinced many, many people of this. They're also in bed with Columbia University School of Journalism, who also consider themselves THE standard in the field. And let me tell you, you'd be extremely hard pressed to find three conservative students among any graduating class–I'd dare say one. Not really sure why there is SUCH an imbalance in the field, but there is today.

  • carl

    Last May during the commencement ceremony, Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism [considered one of the top J-schools in the country] awarded Al Jazeera English their top journalism prize. And it's no secret where they stand in regard to Israel.

    good article.

  • Ella Eyer

    When can you start? cuckshare how can they do that? xvideohost Ese buey de que le sirve ese pene si no tiene nada de espermas ,para espermas los mios muchosucko i wish i was with them