Citizen Action Monitor

Crisis in American democracy: Part 3 – Press’ job — Keep the people stupid

No 335 Posted by fw, November 12, 2011

All they [the press] want to talk about is the horse race – who’s up or who’s down in the poll, or whether Obama is being too cautious in regard to X or Y and nobody wants to tell you — Please, like can we have an adult analysis of the money? [i.e. campaign fund raising] I mean couldn’t you aggregate these. I mean I had guys from the New York Times say to me “Well, you know we’d really love to do this.” When I talk to them about it they don’t love to do it. In fact they’d like it to just go away. So they’ve made it go away. They illustrate my theory – i.e. people just get paid to write blather and nonsense and that’s what they do.Tom Ferguson

Part 2 of this 11-part series considered the methods business leaders use to manipulate and control workers, thereby deliberately undermining democratic processes and institutions. This post, Part 3, considers how corporate-controlled mainstream media aid and abet corporate power by keeping ordinary citizens politically stupid.

NOTE — On a nit-picking note, I must say that in places in the video, including in this post, I would have liked the editing of some of Tom Ferguson’s off-the-cuff, rambling explanations to be a little tighter. I sometimes had difficulty trying to link pronouns with their antecedents and to figure out what point he was trying to make. And the constant music in the background can, at times, be quite distracting.

Continuing with the format for this series, a complete 77-minute video of Shockley’s documentary film is embedded below followed by my time-indexed transcript comprising Part 3, including subheadings, and any external links and text highlighting. The time indexing facilitates switching from the text to its related place in the video. Of course, readers have the option of watching the complete 77-minute video at one sitting.

Golden Rule: The Investment Theory of Politics a documentary film by Jonathan Shockley

TRANSCRIPT

7:50 <On screen text> — Golden Rule: The Investment Theory of Politics

PR people don’t get paid for telling the public the truth

8:00 <On screen: Starts with video clip of Tom Ferguson, author of the Golden Rule: The Investment Theory of Party Competition but soon changes to other visuals to support Ferguson’s words > Tom FergusonEvery time you pay a public relations person you’re usually trying to convince them that your interests are the same as the public. You know, that’s what you pay PR people for. You rarely see somebody coming to you and saying “Vote for this policy. It’ll line my pocket.” Instead they’re telling you “It’s good for you.” It’s sort of like the McDonalds’ slogan on a colossal scale – “We do it all for you.”

And the corporate-owned media bait politicians who advance policies that big business oppose

8:38 <On screen: Obama poster> Tom Ferguson — The ability of the press, especially the major national press that bait candidates who ever want to do something like plain medical care for average people is really extraordinary. And they’re absolutely shameless about it.

8:54 <On screen: news clip of CNN attacking healthcare. Sign on speaker’s desk: “ROAD TO SOCIALISM”> Speaker — “The federal government — unprecedented control of our medical treatment.”

“All they [the press] want to talk about is the horse race. . . . write blather and nonsense” 

9:02 Thomas Ferguson – Look around you and see, read newspaper coverage and try to figure out – say, reading The New York Times even, closely – which businesses are backing Obama versus which are doing McCain. The truth is they don’t cover much. Both political parties are vastly influenced by money and that sort of plays havoc with their ability to represent you. Well the truth is that the press in the United States is almost entirely commercial. It won’t print — for reasons of profit — stuff that makes them all look bad. All they want to talk about is the horse race – who’s up or who’s down in the poll, or whether Obama is being too cautious in regard to X or Y and nobody wants to tell you — Please, like can we have an adult analysis of the money? [i.e., campaign fund raising] I mean couldn’t you aggregate these. I mean I had guys from the New York Times say to me “Well, you know we’d really love to do this.” When I talk to them about it they don’t love to do it. In fact they’d like it to just go away. So they’ve made it go away. They illustrate my theory – i.e. people just get paid to write blather and nonsense and that’s what they do.

Talking to Americans at the seashore about which presidential candidate they’re going to vote for in the 2008 election

NOTE: Although the following section actually appears further along in the video, I elected to include it here as well because it serves to illustrate what an excellent job the press is doing in keeping the American public politically stupid. Admittedly, one cannot generalize from an interview with four people selected at random to the population as a whole. But the interviews are fun and serve to make a point.

20:10 — <Screen text> — Voters’ heads in the clouds

20:12 – <Video: scenes at the beach followed by interviews> A day at the shore. The fruits of our free enterprise system.

20:33Interviewer approaches fiftyish male

  • Interviewer — Who do you plan on voting for sir?
  • Interviewee — McCain, John McCain.
  • Interviewer – John McCain. Okay. And why?
  • Interviewee – I think he can run the country.
  • Interviewer – What is your favorite policy that he has?
  • Interviewee – Protecting the country.
  • Interviewer – Very good. And besides that?
  • Interviewee – Uhh, the economy.
  • Interviewer – What’s your favourite economic policy that he has?
  • Interviewee – (Turns to his wife) – I don’t know. What do you know?
  • Wife — <inaudible>

21:01 Interviewer approaches a fiftyish woman on the beach

  • Interviewer – Hello there. Who are you going to vote for?
  • Interviewee – Hillary Clinton
  • Interviewer – Okay. Good. And why?
  • Interviewee – Right now I think she’s the best one for the job.
  • Interviewer – And what’s your favorite policy that she has?
  • Interviewee — I haven’t watched too many of her debates. Only what I read in the paper and on TV

21:22 Interviewer approaches thirty-something female

  • Interviewee – Probably, I think Obama.
  • Interviewer –  Obama. Okay. Out of his policies, which ones do you like the most?
  • Interviewee – Well, I just like him because he’s a Democrat and I don’t really care for Hillary Clinton. So that’s why.
  • Interviewer – Okay. Good. And what about Hillary’s policies do you not like?
  • Interviewee – Well, I <pause> I don’t know about the policies <laughs>

21:43Approaches twenty-something African-American male

  • Interviewer — Who are you voting for?
  • Interviewee – Barack Obama
  • Interviewer – Okay. And why?
  • Interviewee – I think he’s the best candidate. I think I need change. If Clinton’s elected or McCain, McCain will be too conservative and Hillary, she will be too, almost twenty years of the same family in office for the last, almost, you know, two decades so that will be – I don’t know. The nation’s not built for that, I don’t think.
  • Interviewer – All right. And what  is your favorite policy that Barack Obama has.
  • Interviewee – Ahh, favorite policy – well, not one particular policy but just his whole, his whole, his whole, his whole – what he’s going on all together like this whole bandwagon of change. That’s all he wants, change. There can be change in America.
  • Interviewer – What change do you like the most?
  • Interviewee – Ahh, particular. . . . <pause> I can’t tell you.
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