A World of Make Believe

pantomimeMore and more, this world of ours becomes a pantomime, a charade, a chiavari. Nothing is what it seems. Not even the “news.”

You will read about the power of “social media” in the press, and the TV pundits will talk of Twitter and Facebook and the blogosphere as if they were the real “voice of the people.”

Of course the pundits are wrong. In fact, who knows whether they are real pundits or fakes? Many of the “experts” you see on TV are in the pocket of one special interest or another. Those impressively costumed generals, for example, who were on the Pentagon’s PR payroll. Remember?

It’s all a kind of astroturf, created by billionaires and their army of operatives, who are paid to write the comments and blogs and tweets and so on that news outlets rely on. Meanwhile “think tanks” professing to be dispassionate centers of scholarship find innovative ways to slant existing data to suit the ends of the folks who fund them.

Hour after hour, armies of hired hacks churn away at their keyboards, spewing out the propaganda that “the media” will mistake for news and genuine opinion.

Turn on the TV and you are fed the contrived arguments that we are meant to accept as reason. Even God’s blessing is on the block as those “religious” stations compete for our souls and our contributions.

So it should not surprise me that the Republican Party has come up with ersatz news sites as a new way of deceiving the American public. They are posting attack ads disguised as local news sites, and – here’s the diabolical part – paying Google to ensure these fake sites show up in search results.

An article in Salon.com this morning credits the National Journal with exposing this latest scam. According to the article:

Not only do the sites look like a local news page, but the “articles” they feature are written with the authoritative and seemingly nonpartisan voice of real journalism.

So much for the “objectivity” they taught us in Journalism school.  Obviously, the techniques that make a news story seem objective can be used to mask propaganda as “news.” And as long as there are those who will betray their craft for the manipulators’ money, they will be used that way.

Ben Franklin wisely warned us to believe half of what we see and none of what we hear. Today, he would probably advise us to believe nothing.

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gwgraeme

I am a Jamaican-born writer who has lived and worked in Canada and the United States. I live in Lakeland, Florida with my wife, Sandra, our three cats and two dogs. I like to play golf and enjoy our garden, even though it's a lot of work. Since retiring from newspaper reporting I've written a few books. I also write a monthly column for Jamaicans.com

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