September 10, 2004

Manufacturing dissent

Unless you've been in a coma over the last few days, you can't have missed the flap over CBS' apparent use of forged memos to smear President Bush's service in the Texas Air National Guard, on Wednesday's 60 Minutes II (hosted by Dan "What's the frequency, Kenneth?" Rather). (I'm not going to repeat what's been said. But if you are one of the comatose, start here and read on.)

Naturally, like sharks smelling blood, the other major media networks have started to attack, starting with ABC, though at the time of writing all the major networks have related news stories up on their Web sites. Lest we forget, however, no one in the major media is innocent of charges of manufacturing the news.

In 1992, NBC News claimed on Dateline NBC that a side collision with certain models of GM trucks might rupture their side-mounted fuel tanks, resulting ina deadly fire. The only problem was, they couldn't get a truck to catch fire. So they rigged one with pyrotechnics.

ABC aired a segment on Prime Time Live in 1993 in which producers, posing as employees, found evidence of tainted food and unsanitary conditions in the supermarket chain Food Lion. Finding it too difficult to find actual damning evidence against the store, they faked it, for example, videotaping expired food that they planted themselves, or showing a dirty meat slicer that it was their own job to clean.

The Fox network is infamous for airing sensationalistic "documentaries" about alien autopsies or moon landing hoaxes in which conspiracy theorists are given a disproportionate amount of time compared to skeptics.

The problem is that we continue to assume that the driving force behind these networks newsgathering is the public interest. It isn't: it's the buck. Sensationalistic "news" stories means higher ratings means more advertisers means more money. And "the love of money is the root of all evil" (1 Tim. 6:10). Of course, it doesn't hurt that those who gather and report the news are overwhelmingly leftist along with all the baggage that entails (supporting the Democrats, anti-capitalism, anti-corporation, etc.). And it really doesn't hurt for CBS' frontman to have a rather personal grudge against the Bush family.