What purpose does mass media serve? Does it tell the truth? How does it work and what is its primary function? If you ask the man or woman in the street, they might say its function is to inform. This would appear to be a reasonable supposition, but in reality it’s a distinctly fishy business. Mass media routinely misinforms us, keeps us in a perpetual state of fear and ultimately enslaves us.
When I was younger, I was told that I should read the papers and stay abreast of the news. Otherwise I would be considered ill-informed, a figure of contempt and frankly not doing my duty as a citizen. To be honest I preferred the cartoons and page three of a certain British tabloid.
And then, lo and behold, I went to work in the belly of the beast as a copy editor for six years - at a mass media outlet. I had my fair share of death, destruction and dismally depressing events. I became aware of its nature and its overarching reach, for mass media does cast an exceedingly long and dark shadow over our planet.
It's like a drug we can't do without. We simply must have our daily fix of news, a poisonous mix of the awful and the inaccurate. Despite the old adage, 'Don't believe what you read in the papers,' huge numbers of people give it credence and are influenced by it.
So what is the nature of its influence? It tells us of titanic events, of economic meltdown, war, famine, pestilence, disaster, disease, pandemics and inhumanity. To be sure, it throws in the odd feel-good piece so you don't become entirely suicidal. But let’s face it, the news is rarely good news. It assaults the psyche and engenders largely negative emotions: anger, worry, and fear.
The media is a schizoid monster at war with itself, and the frontline is a place where ideologies clash and do battle. This channel is Democrat, that one is Republican; this newspaper is Conservative while that one is Labour. It's like a body of water stocked with sharks and barracudas. Savage and brutal, its waters are murky and incarnadine; the news is regurgitated, spat out in bloody globs and packaged through the distorting lens of political expediency. For many people this doesn't seem to matter because they only listen to one channel and read one newspaper. They are loyal to their particular peddler of news as the smoker is to his packet of death.
All mass media outlets have political masters, who in turn are ruled by an elite cabal of power brokers. The really powerful are those that stay in the shadows and don't reveal their power. The ones we see strutting upon the stage, enjoying the limelight only have the pretence of power. Presidents are commodities to be bought and discarded, even assassinated if they don't toe the line. The kingmaker is always an eminence grise, the hand up the posterior of Punch and Judy. We should rightly wonder who owns the news and question their motives.
At best mass media is economical with the truth; at worst it lies through its teeth and does so on a routine basis. The Iraq War is a prime example. The reason for waging it, we were told, was that old Saddam, not a nice man admittedly, apparently had weapons of mass destruction. This was subsequently proved to be utter nonsense. The Vietnam War is another disastrous military campaign conducted upon a monumental lie that resulted in much misery and death.
Remember September 11, 2001? An infamous day in history! We were told that two planes alone brought down a pair of gargantuan towers in New York. An army of engineers and architects has since proved the physical and scientific impossibility of this. By the way, a third building that wasn't hit by a plane also remarkably collapsed on its footprint that fateful day in September. To the experts it looked suspiciously like a controlled explosion. You can't have a debate about this in the mass media. It simply isn't done. Forbidden. Verboten. God forbid, the truth should actually get out.
There is a good deal of obfuscation in the press, and omitting salient details is tantamount to lying in the long run. If you have followed the latest US presidential election, you will know what I mean. It is patently obvious that the whole shameful business was rigged.
Then there is the current pandemic. The views of countless doctors and scientists are being muzzled because they refute the hysterical and wildly inaccurate information coming out of mass media. The CDC itself (Center for Disease Control) recently pronounced the survival rate from Covid at well over 99%, but it's an inconvenient statistic that upsets the mainstream narrative and has been shoved under the carpet by mass media. This is the nature of the beast. It tells you what its masters want you to hear and this has about as much to do with the truth as a fish has with a bicycle. The news is never balanced, it's always spun and then loaded with sound bites and lurid pictures designed to give the illusion of truth. It's a product and the professionals package it very slickly. Unfortunately, unlike an honest product, it doesn’t do what it says on the tin. Like a Machiavellian spider it habitually spins truth into a tissue of lies.
Another aspect of mass media is that it’s very good at controlling the masses and telling them what they must think. We have the ludicrous notion of ‘wrong think’ these days. Doesn’t that sound a little Orwellian to you? Albert Einstein said: ‘Unthinking respect for authority is the enemy of truth.’ What happened to independent thought? Is no one capable of it any more? A large proportion of people has meekly accepted lockdowns, the wearing of masks, the oxymoronic concept of social distancing, and that we must have a vaccine for something that kills a tiny fraction of those who contract the illness. Such is the power of the media to bamboozle and brainwash.
The whole thing is a charade, a distraction of monumental proportions. It is the magician's sleight of hand - the skill of focusing and misdirecting your attention. To leaven all this out and end on a humourous note, here's a current joke doing the rounds. Two Amish farmers are discussing the current crisis. One asks, 'Why don't we have Covid here?' The other replies, 'Because we don't have TV!’
So my advice is to switch your TV off and substitute it for a fish tank. It'll be much more therapeutic, and the fish won't lie.