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CBS: "Land of the Fake" (a start)

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PostPosted: Wed Nov 22, 2006 1:07 pm    Post subject: CBS: "Land of the Fake" (a start) Reply with quote

Okay - this article is certainly tame by B4N standards, but realize - this is the CBS News website. Not that it will make many waves, or be repeated very much - and maybe I'm being a hopeless optimist, but it's a start. Wink

The bold and red highlites and are mine from posting this up on an ideological forum. (I'm cajoling over there, so please pardon the sophomoric editorializing.)


Land of the Fake

(CBS) This commentary was written by CBSNews.com's Dick Meyer.--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

I find that after covering politics for 25 years what I really yearn for is not great leaders, smart reforms nor policies that I agree with. What I crave is authenticity.

I can witness and write about policies and people I totally disagree with, stupidity, bureaucracy, incompetence, greed, boundless ambition and power lust without any exaggerated feelings of frustration or despondency. What I can no longer stomach without pulling my hair out is phoniness on the scale that I observe it today.

Put another way, what I miss is the simple honesty, the genuine moment, the unscripted moment, the gaffe anything that has not been run through the Cuisinart of marketing, focus groups and linguistic analysis. "The enemy isnt liberalism," the late columnist, Lars-Erik Nelson, said. "The enemy isnt conservatism. The enemy is bullsh*t." Ill proudly swipe that as a motto.

I really dont know anyone who doesnt feel this way. "One of the biggest reasons I left Elkton Hills was because I was surrounded by phonies," said J.D. Salingers Holden Caulfield, the greatest enemy of phonies of all. Now it seems like were all at Elkton Hills. And its crumby.

Politics happens to be my Petri dish. It is something I know a lot about it and where I first spot things I often notice in other parts of society. I want try to define what I mean by phony or inauthentic in this column and just stick to Potter Stewarts dictum on pornography: you know it when you see it.

But politics is probably only slightly less authentic than the other areas of American culture.

The other day, I called a company my insurance carrier sent to help dry out my flooded basement. "Its a great day at ServePro, this is Emily, how can I help you," said Emily. Now how could this possibly be a great day at ServePro? Monster rains flooded basements all over the city. Great day? No. Phony, synthetic corporate claptrap of the sort were supposed to politely swallow every day. "Please hold, we care about your call." "At Amalgamated Carcinogens, we care about you." Spare me.

We shop at malls that are designed to look like "real" small town centers. We live in gated or planned "communities" with names like Pheasant Crossing and River Run selected by real estate developers. We read about Pastor Ted, the latest mega-evangelist nabbed in a sex and drugs scandal. We wait for Mark Foley to get out of rehab so he can go on Oprah and announce his book deal. We watch freak shows that are insultingly called reality television; there are no shows left about families with parents and children. We buy millions of self-help books a year promising new and certain paths to happiness. Even bodies are artificial; we have fake boobs, dyed hair, botoxed eyes and liposuctioned thighs.

We are surrounded by phonies. And phoniness.

Curiously, calling out phoniness is considered sophomoric. (Ah, don't I know it. Laughing ) Sophisticates know everything is phony after all. It is nave to think otherwise. Of course politics is fake, just like Hollywood and the news.

But everything isnt phony. And we pine, unconsciously and consciously, for the authentic, sincere, genuine and non-artificial the un-phony. We crave authenticity.

Often what I am calling phony emerges after something older, something that felt authentic, has gone away. In politics, for example, there have been phonies, hypocrites and blowhards since the spoken word was invented. But American politics changed dramatically after modern political marketers, pollsters and ad makers transformed politics for the TV-generation and later for the Information Age. They invented a kind of artificial, ersatz politics: wedge issues, Astroturf lobbying, kabuki hearings, spin, "on message," photo-ops and negative television ads. Of course there have always been dirty tricks and showboating in politics. What has happened in the era of electronic media is categorically different.

A most important example of all this has been the decline of regular, old-fashioned communities places where people live very near relatives of many generations, friends of many generations and where they spend most of their lives. The effects of our nomadic habits and of suburban sprawl of people living among strangers and new acquaintances have been vast and mostly painful. And it has been accompanied by the decline of traditional religion, which served to anchor many people in fast-changing circumstances.

One effect, I think, is that we all crave the non-artificial we cant get enough of it. But in crazy busy lives, finding what feels authentic is time-consuming. So we become mavens in certain areas where we demand what feels authentic to us. Heres a silly example: I will only buy lunch from people I know. It is my token rebellion against chains, homogenization and the unpleasantness of doing business with people who have do vested interest in their work. Its goofy, but important, too. (Here, here!)

Because it is affordable and a necessity, food is actually often a place where people seek authenticity and a measure of control and aesthetic choice. Foodies will pay a high price in time and money for line caught salmon, Scottish smoked salmon and Eritrean coffee. Natural food fans will do the same for local, organic collard greens, free range chicken and real cheese not fake cheese. Comical? Yes, but it is revealing, too.

In politics, I think the search for authenticity is often incorrectly described as polarization. Polarization of the red/blue, 50-50 America, Franken vs. OReilly is mostly myth and marketing. As this last election shows, most voters are moderate. Real extremists are just that extreme minorities. Polls consistently show that Americans broadly share basic civic and social values.

But polls also show that people at the left and right edges of the spectrum are more extreme and angrier than they used to be. And the political elite is absolutely more rabid and recalcitrant. Politically engaged individuals are more likely to be very attached to a single issue or to an ideology. There is a decline in tolerance of other views. And an increase in people feeling that their values and lifestyles are genuinely threatened by those they disagree with, their political enemies. Its not polarization, but balkanization.

In other words, many of us are over-attached to our politics, to our own positions and perspectives. We cling to them. Were brittle in arguments. Why? Well, its partly because the politics we see on television is so thin. But I also suggest that part of the answer is we are trying to replace something we have lost post-neighborhood, Information Age, corporate America and we are trying to compensate by holding for dear life to things that feel important, orienting and authentic.

Similarly, an important quality public people who garner our confidence seem to share is an ability to be genuine and b.s.-free. It's hard to come up with a long list, but a short list might include John McCain, pre-Bush Colin Powell, Don Imus, Jon Stewart and Oprah Winfrey. (Okay, so he lost me on that paragraph. Oy...)

The amount of phoniness in world history cant be measured empirically. But I think it is clear there is more now simply because of the explosion of communications technology alone. There are simply more paths of communication. And most of that communication today is mass- mediated it comes through a medium, not through direct personal contact. Proximity is the enemy of phonies and fakes; it is simply easier to tell if someone is full of it in person than through e-mail or talk radio.

America is an invented place, artificial by some historical measures. (That's another rant.) But Americans were long viewed by the rest of the world as unusually earnest and genuine. Unshackled by class, social status and ancestry, Americans were free to be themselves authentic. We have always prided ourselves on that. The American story is that we are self-made and thus uniquely able to be true to ourselves. Its a paradox though: invention vs. authenticity.

Still, the successful balance remains an American ideal. But it is harder to achieve in a modern world where invention increasingly creates the artificial. Like Holden at Elkton Hills, we really are surrounded by phonies.


Dick Meyer is the editorial director of CBSNews.com, based in Washington.

"No matter what happens, ever... there's ALWAYS at least one reason. And the top reason is ALWAYS money."
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 22, 2006 4:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hey Dick Meyer,


CBS/Viacom is run by Sumner M. Redstone, Harvard University School of Law in 1947, served in the Military Intelligence Division during World War II, and apparent ties to OSS/CIA figures.

Boards of Directors
Viacom, CBS
Sumner M. Redstone
Executive Chairman of the Board and Founder
Harvard University School of Law in 1947
served in the Military Intelligence Division during World War II.

Robert K. Kraft
He is (or was) Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of The Kraft Group, which includes the New England Patriots, New England Revolution, Gillette Stadium, Rand-Whitney Group and International Forest Products Corporation, owner of the New England Patriots, Chairman of the NFLs Finance Committee since 1998, director of the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston and The New England Patriots Charitable Foundation.

other Board Member's positions:
with Morgan Stanley's Institutional Securities Division
director of Oracle Corporation (connected to the CIA and NSA)
Co-Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of DND Capital Partners, L.L.C., a private equity firm
serves on the boards of American International Group, Inc., Consolidated Edison, Inc. and JPMorgan Chase & Co.
Vice Chairman, Finance and Business Development, of NYNEX, which is the "world oil exchange"
director of Akamai Technologies, Inc., The Bear Stearns Companies Inc., Consolidated Edison, Inc.
Vice President for Academic Affairs (the chief academic officer) of Yeshiva University
Dean of the Boston University School of Law
chairman of the Boston Mayors Special Commission on Police Procedures
member of the Legal Advisory Board of the New York Stock Exchange (also CIA-related)

ALL the mainstream media is like this.


By the way: This could be seen as a warning, a preview, a new spin on Fair and Balanced. The media is now going to condescend to the rants of George Carlin and Bill Hicks and start marketing anti-Bullshit bullshit, the new CBS fair and balanced. They cant call it the anti-Bullshit channel, can they?

George Carlin - We LIKE War and Bullshit and Media
There's another Carlin one I'm thinking of, I may add it later.

Last edited by dilbert_g on Wed Nov 22, 2006 5:11 pm; edited 3 times in total
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 22, 2006 4:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

under this TALK |TAB| on the page
(lots of good reference leftover on this page)

Re cleanout
I have deleted the content of the page for a couple of reasons:

there are numerous websites, mostly conspiracy sites, that refer to Operation Mockingbird but none cite the primary source on the name or where it was first disclosed;

the most common origins of the term as to a Carl Bernstein article in Rolling Stone; However, the extract of the Bernstein article that is online refers to the CIA using journalisms but it doesn't specifically mention Operation Mockingbird; where the Senate Select Intelligence Committee chaired by Senator Frank Church is referred to there are no primary source citations;

I have no doubt that the CIA used journalists but I can find no evidence that it was called Operation Mockingbird. In the absence of some credible source on the name Operation Mockingbird, there is no basis for a page by this title;

Yes, there are plenty of websites referring to Operation Mockingbird but none go back to credible primary sources; instead, they either refer to each other or make sweeping unreferenced claims that don't deserve to be repeated here. The previous content of this page was largely derived from these sites;

For this reason I created the page The CIA and journalism where the issue can be documented but without being tied to the name of what appears to be an unverified title;

I relocated the Kristine Borjesson reference to the media trends page where it seems more appropriate; I checked my copy but it does not have any mention of Operation Mockingbird, so it is not appropriate to list it in the references.
--Bob Burton 00:37, 9 Oct 2006 (EDT)

Control of information is essential for autocratic rulers. It is well documented how the CIA became a central tool for this task:

There's nothing yet on the new page either, just the old discussion.
So it's a Wiki.
Bob Burton, the orig author, who MAY put more stuff up on CIA and Journalism, also DISPUTES that the WaPo is a right wing paper.

THAT IS CLEARLY NOT THE POINT. They bury news, create news, create right spin and create left spin. My guess is that Burton thinks manufactured Left-Spin is TRUE (or at least damaging to the establishment) and therefore not-spin, and therefore Estabishment "critics" must not be CIA-spun.

The big point is: IT's SEEMINGLY EVOLVED TO AN ENTIRE SYSTEM OF MANIPULATION not just a 'spin-zone'.
One example: Of course the trash on Clinton-Gore was a right wing conspiracy lynch mob out to destroy Clinton and all forms of liberalism and human decency (by painting it all with one broad brush of depravity, the NAMBLA brush or whatever) --

and Richard Mellon Sciafe was even willing to have that Steve Kangas (Overclass guy) killed to perpetuate his evil crusade

-- but the same system was covering up for Clinton's bigger crimes and is currently pushing Gore's science.

They created a whole new LARGE reality.
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Hocus Locus

Joined: 22 Sep 2006
Posts: 850
Location: Lost in anamnesis, cannot forget my way out

PostPosted: Wed Nov 22, 2006 9:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

When the Cold War's over spies gotta eat ... and journalists have always spied. We have to catch them in the very act of spin. And document it. And find a place to stand on to tell the world they're doing it. And let the world hold still long enough to pay attention. And tell them what they're about to see (you know, like The Dukes of Hazzard). And then show them. And then explain what they just saw (you know, like The Dukes of Hazzard). And then, I guess, just go on home. Haven't thought it out completely I admit.

Give me a lever long enough, a place to stand, and someone to blame it on... and I'll move the world.
~my Dad
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