Peeter Joot's (OLD) Blog.

Math, physics, perl, and programming obscurity.

An attempt to understand my reactions to the ambulance chasing reporting of “Democracy Now”

Posted by peeterjoot on September 10, 2013


It’s been a while since I’ve listened to the Democracy Now’s podcast.  I like some of the interviews that they give, as well as the historical perspective on certain events.  For example, they’ve had some interesting coverage of the 50th year Martin Luther King speeches and the March on Washington.  I’ve also enjoyed some of their bumper music, such as “Has the bombing begun” by David Rovics, and the Rise Against’s “Hero of War”, a spectacular story of a military recruits transition to an understanding of the reality of warfare.

I often cry a little bit every time I hear Hero of War.  My little brother, now a US marine, has fallen victim to this hero propaganda.  I hope he comes out of his tour in one piece physically and emotionally.  It’s hard to visualize him being forced into a position where he is the one beating and pissing on his “man” or mowing down the girl carrying a dirty makeshift white flag, but I know that is unfortunately in the realm of possibility.  However, I digress.

Unfortunately, before some of the interview covarage that Democracy now does well, one has to put up with or skip over their “war and peace report”.  That is reporting that focuses on just the day to day view, without any sort of big picture illustration, and without providing any sort of context.  I would characterize it as very damaging.  It is easily debatable that this is worse than not reporting in the first place.

I don’t see how one can call Democracy Now alternative media when they do the same sort of sensationalist ambulance chasing that is found in all the mainstream corporate media.  I would characterize this sort of soundbite reporting as both misleading and very damaging.  Inclusion of endless 10-30 second soundbites covering what are essentially traumatic world or domestic events will just harden the hearts of those that listen.  Listening to that is no better than the evening news.  Listening to this sort of reporting makes me involuntarily feel callous.  How else can you respond to a barrage of this sort of reporting?  You are left with the feeling that you can’t do anything about it.  Should you want to have compassion and do something about it, you’d have to quit everything that you are doing and start protesting or organizing.  It would be a life changing event to try to be compassionate under this sort of barrage of crap.

Perhaps that is the goal of sensationalist reporting: Produce an audience that will come back again and again, thinking that it is important to understand what is going on, but at the same time conditioned to do nothing about it.  Produce a zombie automaton audience that is compelled to return for their fix of brains.

Worse than the production of callous behaviour in the listeners is the propaganda aspect of this sort of reporting.  Democracy Now’s war and peace report, unwittingly serves as a propaganda conduit for the warmongers that they channel.  I don’t mind that they include representation of the warmongers, but it needs to be done with commentary.  Otherwise, it essentially gives the listener the impression that it is fact, especially when it is repeated again and again and again.  This is how to mold opinion, and is not how to present a story with intent to inform.  If you are exposed to endless soundbites of Kerry and Obama and other similar gutless warmongers playing out their script, all without any sort of commentary or moderation, then not knowing any better you will start to believe that what they say is factual.  I wasn’t taking explicit notes, but if I had tried to count the number of times that I heard Kerry saying “he had no doubt that Assad was responsible for the chemical weapons attack in east Damascus on 21 August”, I probably would have used up my fingers.

If pressed on this issue, Democracy Now would surely respond that they moderate this barrage of crap with their more in depth interviews.  For example, their interview with Rep. Alan Grayson has an attempt to balance the scales.  Should you listen to that you see Kerry and others called out for their attempts to manipulate the facts, as they attempt to produce a compelling case for US lead bombing for the good of humanity and the world.  They’ve also hosted debates setting pro intervention pundits against those who don’t wish another unjustified war.  There are, however, glaring omissions in coverage that are made obvious by such a debate.  The pro intervention supporter leaves you with the impression that there’s a huge backstory of tyranny by Assad.  I’d like to ask where the specific reporting on that tyranny is.  If Assad is such a bad guy, where is the reporting on the evils that have occurred under his command?  None of that is in the day to day focused mainstream media, nor in Democracy Now’s insipid variety of alternative media.  The only story we get is that of the red line and chemical attacks that serve to justify bombing and eventual invasion.

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