News Swindles

Several of my home page posts have reported experiences with the news as fiction, as propaganda … Misrepresentation. NEWS: the Governed Faucet … Today I add some relevant quotes:

H. L. Mencken wrote: :The more reflective reader reads next to nothing …” “… in the way of newspapers,” continues Jeff Riggenbach in his Why American History Is Not What They Say: An Introduction to Revisionism “and believes the same amount precisely.” Riggenbach goes on: “Why should he read or believe more? Every time he alights on anything that impinges upon his own field of knowledge he discovers at once that it is inaccurate and puerile. The essential difficulty here is that journalism, to be intellectually respectable, requires a kind of equipment in its practitioner that is necessarily rare in the world[…]. He should have the widest conceivable range of knowledge, and he should be the sort of man who is not easily deluded by the specious and the fraudulent. Obviously, there are not enough such men to go round. The best newspaper, if it is lucky, may be able to muster half a dozen at a given moment, but the average newspaper seldom has even one. Thus American journalism (like the journalism of any other country) is predominantly paltry and worthless. Its pretensions are enormous, but its achievements are insignificant.”

Riggenbach cites George Bernard Shaw on “The Newspaper Man, a cheerful, affable young man who is disabled for ordinary business pursuits by a congenital erroneousness which renders him incapable of describing accurately anything he sees, or understanding or reporting accurately anything he hears. As the only employment in which these defects do not matter is journalism (for a newspaper, not having to act on its descriptions and reports, but only to sell them to idly curious people, has nothing but honor to lose by inaccuracy and unveracity), he has perforce become a journalist, and has to keep up an air of high spirits through a daily struggle with his own illiteracy and the precariousness of his employment.” [The Doctor’s Dilemma]

Another Shaw had something to add: “I’ve long since lost track,” Shaw reported to his readers on May 22, 2005, not long before his death, “of the number of times that readers from all walks of life have told me, ‘Any time I read anything in the paper that I know anything about, it’s wrong.'”

About pk

Seems to me that some modicum of honesty is requisite to intelligence. If we look in the mirror and see not kleptocrats but Christians, we’re still in the same old trouble.
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