When a triumphal George W. Bush declared his intention to cash in on his “political capital” in the days after the election, he was merely reaffirming his commitment to hand over the reins of power to a higher authority than even Dick Cheney. The religious right, with its enormous political stake in the “End Times” outcome of America's latest Imperial misadventures in Iraq and Afghanistan, have seized upon Bush's continued pledge to transform the “Homeland” into a locked down religious theme park with the organizational zeal they had previously reserved for bilking gullible parishioners out of their social security checks.
Like Halliburton, Christ Inc. has become the latest recipient of taxpayer largesse, having won the contract to keep the media out of the news business, and to ensure that power speaks to truth, as opposed to the other way around. Purging the “news” of news is just the latest attempt by religious Brownshirts to stamp their poisonous insignia on every major institution that they don't control lock, stock and barrel.
In recent months the escalating violence in Iraq and mounting evidence of US-run torture chambers has been dutifully ignored by the Christian News Network, a.k.a. “The Missing White Girl Network” who never miss an opportunity, these days, to provide their theo-con masters with a platform to discredit the administration's naysayers and whistleblowers. Instead, news consumers get trumped up coverage of sensational celebrity trials, “heartwarming” tales of rescue and survival (always thanks to Jesus) and “special reports” revolving around the heroic law enforcement figures as they “secure our borders,” track down “terrorists”, and sniff out the latest Caucasian corpse du jour. The message has become implicitly clear: resistance is useless against an increasingly paranoid and authoritarian state apparatus that has its finger on the trigger, ready to blow away even unruly toddlers.
The endless parade of Christian pundits and security analysts on CNN these days is more than an attempt by the beleaguered cable giant to do one better than rival news corps in “outfoxing” the competition. Not content with FOX's spectacular success as the profit-driven propaganda arm of the US government, the religious right has set out to erase the distinction between the pulpit and the news desk across the media spectrum (never a wide one in the first place) -- a feat they have managed to pull off with the cooperation of the nervous corporate elites.
Just as the American definition of the term “liberal” to mean “far left” is laughingly at odds with its intended targets, i.e. House Democrats, Hollywood celebrities, and anyone who reads the news on air outside of FOX or any of its affiliates, the word “mainstream” is perhaps as much a misnomer when describing America's radically reconfigured media at the hands of bat wielding swastikas like Bill Frist and “Doctor” James Dobson.
The New York Times’ recent pledge to “improve” its coverage of topics relating to rural and Heartland American “values” is just another example of dunce-capped elites publicly denouncing themselves in a desperate, last ditch attempt to make nice-nice with the revolutionary zealots ransacking their offices. Similarly, the sacrificial offering of petty plagiarist Jayson Blair wasn't enough to please the “sore winners” of the right, who won't settle for anything less than unfettered control of the medium right down to the wire. Dan Rather's roasting of chickenhawk George Bush's National Guard service merely stoked the theo-con appetite for complete destruction at the personal and political level, and gave them what amounted to a green light to flatten, by any means necessary, every pocket of potential resistance in their path.
Obviously, the suppression of media-based dissent entails the purging if not complete destruction of PBS, and along with it, any remaining standard of integrity remaining in the television and radio broadcast industry. After being forced into resignation by a Bush administration ally who chairs the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the indomitable Bill Moyers remarked:
We're seeing unfold a contemporary example of the age-old ambition of power and ideology to squelch and punish journalists who tell the stories that make princes and priests uncomfortable...One reason I'm in hot water is because my colleagues and I at NOW didn't play by the conventional rules of Beltway journalism. Those rules divide the world into Democrats and Republicans, liberals and conservatives, and allow journalists to pretend they have done their job if, instead of reporting the truth behind the news, they merely give each side an opportunity to spin the news.
Moyers was immediately declared “insane” by drug-addled propagandist Rush Limbaugh to his millions of self-described “dittohead” fans. There is no reason to believe that the last remaining example of independent investigative reporting on free television -- PBS’ Frontline -- will survive the remainder of Bushtail's term.
With every revelation of corruption and ineptitude at the leadership level, the lavishly funded, state-of-the-art neo-con spin machine goes into warp drive to ensure that anti-war voices are filtered through the rightwing of the Democratic Party, or more recently, stamped out altogether. As a result, the so-called “opposition” has adopted the neo-con rallying cry of “staying the course,” as if prolonging and escalating the war would somehow end it sooner rather than later, a strategy recently tested in Vietnam. Talk about a “victory strategy” for the masterminds behind the new and improved “Orwellian” media.
You would think that the Times’ support for the invasion of Iraq with fabricated “evidence” of Saddam Hussein's imaginary weapons program would have forced the regime to come up with more creative ways to impugn its potential critics than branding them “biased”. Then again, nothing mobilizes the disgruntled many to the cause of defending the wealthy few against the threat of taxes and secularism better than the lame “liberal media” canard. Or to paraphrase Joseph Goebbels, the Nazi Minister of propaganda, “The bigger and steamier your three-coiled whopper is, the likelier it will be swallowed wholesale by the common scum on the ground.”
Fascists have always relied on the willingness of so-called moderates on either side of the political aisle to make alliances with them against their common enemies of the Left. Hillary Clinton's recent decision to team up with her former tormentor, Newt Gingrich, on healthcare is another example of the Faustian bargains centrist elites are willing to make with thuggish extremists, hoping to score political points for appearing conciliatory. Similarly, John Kerry's doomed campaign strategy of offering voters a watered down version of White House theology by mildly condemning gay rights and abortion, didn't take into account that the anti-gay, misogynistic, market-worshipping Zionists of the religious right only put forth a pretend ideology based on “values” and “economics”. Upon closer inspection, this so-called agenda reveals only emptiness at its core, bereft of any ideas beyond a promise to use force when necessary against those who refuse to “get with the pogrom.”
The success of the Christian Right in dismantling all existing institutions and re-shaping them to their exact specifications depends on the ability of its leaders to provoke an exalted state of outraged-tinged euphoria within its rank and file members -- the “Hannitized” hordes who feel a raw emotional need to feel part of an enterprise engaged in exercising supreme power over a despised enemy. This can only be achieved by the full cooperation of the media, who fear their own irrelevance in a highly volatile political atmosphere even more than those who create these conditions in the first place.
After Hitler was elected German Chancellor in 1933, the novelist Thomas Mann noted in his diary that he was witnessing a revolution “without underlying ideas, against ideas, against everything nobler, better, decent, against freedom, truth and justice.”
Today's Hannitized hordes are every bit as eager as Hitler's little helpers to sell out their own political and economic interests for the privilege of basking in the reflected glory of those who talk loudest while carrying the biggest stick. Like all factory farmed meat machines, they yield to the voices that carry the most authority. If anything, they don't seem overly alarmed by the absence of “news” in the media, particularly in regard to Iraq, perhaps reassured by inanities like the Jacko trial or Pope-o-Rama. Their “mobilizing passions” are not stirred by any fully articulated philosophy beyond a heightened suspicion that their entitlements are being encroached upon by some demonized minority -- a point that Democrats and their cohorts in the corporate media have yet to grasp as they seek ways to accommodate them by purging their own institutional bases of “offending” doctrine. So far, they have only succeeded in emboldening the cross-bearing Brownshirts to violently upgrade their methods of rooting out dissent.
The “logic” of destroying a village in order to “save” it can be applied to the media at the executive and ownership level. Better to help engineer the takeover of your organization by bible wielding Brownshirts than to risk making enemies with these coup plotters, drunk on their recent successes in subverting every other major institution across the political and cultural landscape. Having looted and pillaged America's crumbling fourth estate, the information highway robbers may have pulled off their biggest heist yet.
Leilla Matsui is a freelance writer living in Tokyo, Japan, and mistress of the on-line journal, Rage Against the Washing Machine. E-mail her at: firstname.lastname@example.org. Stella La Chance is a disgruntled housewife living in suburban Ohio, who takes an amateurish interest in immature child psychology. She attends night school.
* The Religious Right: An Anti-American Terrorist Movement by Carolyn Baker
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