An addiction to power and the power of propaganda

Under comments:

Deborah Weiss (5 hours ago)

This is old, old news. This has been happening to local newspapers across America since the 1980s.

For decades, right wing interests have been quietly buying up the local press in small towns and cities across the nation, well under the radar of the East Coast establishment press.

Formerly admirable and independent news outlets in states like Kansas and Ohio and Michigan and Wisconsin (to name only a few–there probably isn’t one state out of the 50 where this hasn’t happened) [including New Mexico] –newspapers that used to make you proud to be an American have been reduced virtually overnight to cogs in the right wing’s elaborate apparatus of disinformation and propaganda.

Wherever this has happened, the result has been the same: As if overnight real journalism, with all its flaws and all its virtues, has dried up and blown away. No more of the kinds of stories that offend the oligarchy, or lead citizens to unite in the public interest, to make this a truly better and more equal country. Good reporters (and there are many) have been faced with the hardest choice there is: to keep their paychecks, but confine themselves to writing only what adheres to Party Line: or to walk away from their dreams, leaving their jobs in the hands of avid little ideologues without honor or a sense of shame.

The emphasis shifts radically, and now the “news” is preoccupied with the kinds of issues (time tested by men like Karl Rove and Roger Ailes) that are guaranteed to pit people against their neighbors and to fill the public with fear, anger, confusion and suspicion, all while boosting the billionaires’ pet issues of deregulation and tax cuts and school “choice” and the privatization of public holdings from highways to prisons.

As it turns out, privatization is a dandy way to transfer huge sums of taxpayers’ money from the public sector into private bank accounts, and for icing, once you’ve privatized these institutions, there are no watchdogs, no accountability: you don’t have to waste your time maintaining decent schools or keeping those roads in good repair or treating prisoners with even a bare minimum of human decency, all you really have to do is count your cash as it wings its way out of the taxpayers’ wallets and into some offshore tax haven.

Every editorial, every “news” story–even movie and restaurant reviews–encourages us all to ridicule reformers, to regard unions and advocates of civil liberties and simple fairness as dangerous, to see black citizens as mooches and criminals, to warn of the terrible menace of ‘liberal’ judges, to promote summary justice and mandatory sentences, to defend and elevate the cult of cops, and–most importantly, perhaps, the real bottom line in this whole sad saga–to defend the slashing away of regulations that once kept us all safer and healthier, and to support, fervently, those big tax cuts for our betters, the super-rich (because, who knows, one day we could be rich, right? we could win that big Powerball ticket the very next drawing, right?)

It’s been a very strategic part of what has transformed the political environment in this nation from a troubled, imperfect, but aspiring democracy into a brutal, inequitable oligarchy.

It only took about 40 years to do it. In that time, they’ve brought this nation to the brink. God only knows where we’ll be ten years from now, but the trajectories are looking grim.

In any case, it doesn’t pay to underestimate the power of propaganda.

Do you wonder why the media only reports on the CDC’s view of the opioid war? (With the lone exception of Al Jazeera America.) Well, now you know.

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