Huffpost Media
The Blog

Featuring fresh takes and real-time analysis from HuffPost's signature lineup of contributors

Steven Weber Headshot

Media: Buy Us!

Posted: Updated:

Flash! Citizens who think they are getting the facts are instead ingesting data that just makes them feel good, keeping them perpetually misinformed and keeping whatever bad feelings which might result from any truthful analysis at bay. Next, Kim Kardashian spotted in flimsy dress at opening and much anticipation of iPad 3!

One cannot help but be suspicious of the predatory nature of the media's telling of the tale, whatever that news cycle's tale may be. There is a seemingly repetitive action-film narrative that pervades much of, if not all news, a contrived dramatic structure that is better suited to the latest Mission: Impossible film but adapted for use in virtually any subject deemed newsworthy ("The Killer in our Midst: How Dutch Ovens are Really Tents of Death"*). (*not really)

And all the stories seem to have classic American Freedom as its star, the nucleus from which all action emanates and constantly refers, as if anything less than a threat to sacred liberty either individual or collective is deemed unimportant or worse, non-existent.

Witness the dramatic spectacle of the presidential election process, far less an exercise in democracy than a marketing assault upon the masses already thoroughly indoctrinated to expect nothing short of a nail-biting photo finish. "If it bleeds, it leads" has been stretched to cover virtually any newsworthy event, so insidious is the marriage between information and entertainment.

But those who eschew the glitzy pop/pap for basic un-spun information must skulk around the fringes of our relentlessly plugged-in culture and enjoy instead the slightly faded wallpaper of the C-SPAN waiting room (not an entirely unpleasant experience by any means, but can you imagine how better it would be if someone occasionally opened a window? Truth may have a liberal bias, but it can also be pretty stuffy).

Even Mitt Romney's physical appearance, brought to you by an incredibly forgiving gene-pool and a firm adherence to, no doubt, Mormon abstemiousness, is right out of a Clark Kent-cum-Reagan character design program; the deep timbre of his voice (albeit somewhat ruined by its plaintive strain and desperation-disclosing stammer); the attempt to create a marriage between the reality of his plutocratic ambition and the fiction of his accessibility to the needs of the "average" person. He is a nearly perfect media construct whose observable physical attributes verge on anime. We are only moments away, no doubt, from a thoroughly rehearsed "tear-jerker" moment to be performed when, you know, he needs to show his humanity. (Cue the theme from Brian's Song.)

And since the fait accompli of Mittens' candidacy has now been executed after a thrilling first act, in which he was pitted against lesser would-be heroes and heroines, we find ourselves seated in the audience at the climax of the second act of the corporate media's morality play, waiting for the Act 3 finale: the advertised battle between Good and Evil. Taking a page from William Castle (as well as George Orwell) the ingenious marketing gimmick is that one's definition of who the heroes and villains of the piece are is wholly subjective. Regardless of who wins, the show will have been a big, boffo success and the sequels, to be sure, are already in development.

But the tragedy is that people have been yoked to the unholy alliance between news, politics and entertainment and virtually all information contains the DNA from the other symbiotic participants; it's damn hard to find unadulterated data anywhere. Poll results vary from network to network, outcomes skewed to appeal to the sensibilities of their respective audiences (sense having long ago been jettisoned as a sensibility in order to make room for consumer preference), providing niche realities rather than one, immutable, mutually agreed-upon actuality. The guardians at the gates of information have, as well, jettisoned whatever integrity, responsibility and selfless self-regulation which might have once been a distinguishing characteristic of their posts for a more profitable calling, one which performs at the behest of its corporate sponsors.

On one level, forcing people to do their own legwork in the search for reliably sourced information is good for the body, mind and soul. It builds character, b'gum, just what those zero-regulatin', government intrusion-deridin' libertarian/Tea Party/corporate types are always crowing about.

The joke is, of course, any amount of digging will eventually reveal a very different truth than the one packaged and sold by the media masters, one in which the intellectual and social welfare (ahem) of the citizenry is the last thing on their greedy little minds.

So, load up on genetically modified popcorn and settle in for the last act. It's gonna be "real"!