Lost Media: Part II Television and Radio

Edward R. Murrow, U.S. newscaster, pioneer in ...

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On October 15, 1958, Edward R. Murrow said:

But the elaborate structure of Networks, Advertising Agencies and Sponsors will not be shaken or altered  It is my desire, if not my duty, to try to talk to you journeymen with some candor about what is happening to radio and television…..

Our history will be what we make of it. And if there are any historians about fifty or a hundred years from now, and there should be preserved the Kinescopes for one week of all three networks, they will there find recorded in black and white, or in color, evidence of decadence…escapism, and insulation from the realities of the world in which we live. We are currently wealthy, fat, comfortable and complacent. We have a built-in allergy to unpleasant or disturbing information. Our mass media reflect this. But unless we get up off our fat surpluses and recognize that television in the main is being used to distract, delude, amuse and insulate us, then television and those who finance it, those who look at it and those who work at it, may see a totally different picture too late.

Murrow was right.  Just look what has happened to television and radio.  Just look to what they have done to us.  They have dumbed us down, made us stupid.  No longer is there any real programming.  Now, it is “Survivor”, “The Real Housewives of Orange County, Atlanta, New York”, “The Biggest Loser”, fake news, propaganda, prophets, and other so-called right-wing spin doctors, with new ‘realty shows’ coming everyday.

What these programs on television and radio have done is steal our brains.  We don’t think anymore.  But why would we? They have taught us that watching women abuse each other, fat people lose weight to win a wedding or some other prize is more important than the real realty show happening in America and the world.  They don’t want us to learn anything of real importance.  They just make up stories, spin them and then present them as truth.

Take Glenn Beck.  He has the gall to put himself in the same category as John F. Kennedy, and most egregiously with MLK.  It is ludicrous. His only claim to fame is that his outrage relies on identifying and hyping the next threat to Western civilization. The great Islamic caliphate determined on ruling much of the Middle East.  Now, he warns that Google is a part, an important part, of the Islamic caliphate.  Google is an ‘instigator of a revolution’ with an American ‘government partnering covertly with media organizations, search engines, social media networking so they can bring change that the Washington elites have designed.’  It is all a plot hatched inside the Beltway.  So now, don’t search google, don’t use Facebook, don’t use your cellphone, and your laptop, because should you, you will be a collaborator of this plot, an Islamist.   I truly believe he believes what he is saying.  Or could it be just ratings.  He learned to lie from Fox News, and that may explain all.

But Beck is not alone.  He has company. Ann Coulter, Michele Malkin, Rush Limbaugh, Ron Paul, Mike Huckabee, John Boehner and so many others.

One in particular is Rep. Peter King, the McCarthy of our time.    Rep. King is planning to hold hearings on Muslin American ‘radicalization’.  A witch hunt reminiscent of McCarthy.  And as in McCarthy, there is no evidence, just innuendo.  Should you have friends that are Muslim, you are guilty by virtue of association.  This is an affront to the First Amendment and Freedom of Religion.  We should all be ashamed.  We should do what Murrow did in 1953, expose Rep. King for what he is….a racist.  We should always question authority.  We need to begin NOW!!!!  Congress must learn again, as it did during McCarthy, that must wield its investigative powers responsibly.

Just once in a while, let us exalt the importance of ideas and information. Let us dream to the extent of saying that on a given Sunday night, the time normally occupied by Ed Sullivan is given to a clinical survey on the state of American education, and a week or two late, the time normally used by Steve Allen is devoted to a thorough ongoing study of American policy in the Middle East. Would the corporate image of their respective sponsors be damaged? Would the stockholders rise up in their wrath and complain? Would anything happen other than a few million people would have received a little illumination of subjects that may well determine the future of this country and therefore the future of the corporations.

To those who say people wouldn’t look, they wouldn’t be interested, indifferent and insulated…But even if they are right, what have they got to lose? Because if they are right, and this instrument is good for nothing but to entertain, amuse and insulate, the tube is flickering now and we will soon see that the whole struggle is lost. This instrument can teach, it can illuminate; yes, and it can even inspire. But it can do so only to the extent that humans are determined to use it to those ends

Otherwise, it is merely wires and lights in a box……..Edward R. Murrow

 

 

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