The publisher of this blog has an agenda. The publisher of every blog has an agenda. The producer of every avenue of expression has an agenda.
Whether the agenda is to get you to buy more widgets, or to get you to believe a certain thing or act a certain way, the act of sharing that agenda via media is an expression of free speech and, by extension, free enterprise.
Media Monsters such as ABC/Disney and Fox/News Corporation who, between them, have filled the minds of three or four generations with garbage while making us happy to dig deep into our wallets to fork over money to them, have agendas, too. It's their jobs to "sell" us pop icons like Britney Spears, Hillary Duff, Miley Cyrus, Zack Efron, and whoever next week's darling will be, movie stars, cartoons, theme parks, stuffed animals and toys, teen whores on MySpace, Bill O'Reilly, newspapers, magazines.... The list of mind-sludge just these two companies produce, and we absorb, is astounding.
Do you realize every woman's childhood dream of marrying a Prince Charming in a big, expensive wedding was programmed into her from watching the Snow White and Cinderella movies (which were well-parodied last month by Disney's new movie Enchanted)? How much of your "knowledge" about aliens and government coverups comes from having watched The X-Files (a Fox TV network show where even one of the main characters was named "Fox")? Tie-ins between movies and toys — always a popular enterprise — reached new heights with Disney's distribution of Toy Story and Toy Story 2, and now tie-ins are ubiquitous. From source to consumer, cradle to grave; the Big Guys own it all. Did you realize even DIRECTV, the television distribution satellite company, is owned by the Fox/News Corporation conglomerate? Oh, you don't watch TV, but like to go to the movies (made by Fox and Disney)? Fox even tells you what to think of the movies they make... they own RottenTomatoes.com, the movie review website.
But why complain? Like reading a blog, our acceptance of the Megacorp Spewage is voluntary. It's freedom of the marketplace. It's American as apple pie. It's what we want and demand.
It is libertarianism in action, in that the entity (even though the entity is a gigantic thousand-armed octopus) has freedom of speech in deciding what materials to present.
So... from a libertarian point of view, ABC and Fox News, being for-profit business operations that indeed do have agendas, have a right to pick and choose which presidential candidates they feature on their own debate programs. Fox News doesn't like Ron Paul, and ABC doesn't like Dennis Kucinich, or Mike Gravel, or Duncan Hunter? Then they don't have to tell us about them.
After all, political debates on a commercial television channel are entertainment. Bread and circuses. The debates aren't designed to give the public insight into the various candidates; the debates are designed to showcase whatever it is that the news media wants to showcase.
CNN, of course, wants to showcase liberal candidates. Fox News wants to highlight conservatives. Wasn't there a debate a while back sponsored by the women's channel Oxygen, or Lifetime, or something, that paid more lip service to Hillary and the other candidates' wives, using them to reach the channel's target audience of women?
All these various agendas of various media outlets are a sign that free enterprise is working in our country.
Unfortunately, it's also prima facie evidence that our entire election process is a sham.
The media — simply by telling us who they favor, for whatever reason — tells us who to vote for through one of the oldest of propaganda tactics, by telling us who others will be voting for. It's called the bandwagon method.
When the campaign for the 2008 presidency began, way back in 2006 or before, the very first thing you heard or read about the candidates was where they stood in polls. Not Hillary is for this, Biden is for that, Obama for the other, but Hillary is at x percent, Biden is at y percent, and Obama at z percent.
As we've seen in the recent Iowa caucuses, and will see again next week in New Hampshire and later in other primaries, polls can be and often are wrong, wrong, wrong. The evil inherent in taking polls, and in paying attention to poll results, is that many people eventually tune out the message of any particular candidate, because "he can't win so why waste my time or my vote?"
I was in a restaurant on the evening of the Iowa caucuses, and for the better part of an hour saw (without sound) Fox News' coverage. At the bottom of the screen, they rotated between the Democratic and Republican results. If I hadn't known better, I would have come away believing there were only four Republican candidates and four Democratic candidates. Even though Democrat Richardson pulled only two percent, he was listed. Ron Paul's 10% on the Republican side was ignored, even though his 10% was significantly closer to Thompson's and McCain's 13% than Richardson's two percent was to next-closest contender Hillary's 29%.
What I'm trying to say is this: The "mainstream press" is no longer (if they ever were) primarily concerned with keeping us informed or with righting wrongs and exposing corruption in order to make things better in society, and they are certainly not at all about being "fair and balanced." The press has agenda... and if you think things through, you might see that their agenda isn't necessarily good for your agenda in the short- or the long-run.
Stay vigilant. Don't be fooled by the smoke and mirrors of the mainstream. Read the mainstream, to be sure, but only while wearing your "high-waders" to protect you from the deep, deep doo-doo.
Read international newspapers and websites. You'll often be surprised at what American news stories look like when you take away the Fox, CNN, or ABC
CBS/NBC network news spin, and see ourselves through a European spinner's eyes.
And read blogs. Lots of them. From writers all over the political, religious, social and "moral" spectrum. Sure, they have agendas. But they're usually obvious agendas, not hidden behind a pretense of being a "public service."
It's your Web 2.0. Embrace it. Utilize it. Treasure it.
Before Rupert Murdoch owns it.
Image: Hidden Agenda
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