Saturday, October 15, 2005

Fog Facts: Searching for Truth in the Land of Spin by Larry Beinhart


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Larry Beinhart knows a bit about government propaganda that is used to delude and divert the public. He is the author of the book that the movie "Wag the Dog" was based upon. He also wrote the highly topical novel, "The Librarian," a couple of years ago, which was a thinly veiled journey through the Orwellian world created by the Busheviks.

So it is with great eagerness that Beinhart's latest tome arrives on the scene, "Fog Facts: Searching for Truth in the Land of Spin." In a stunningly insightful speech on the role of the media in early October, Al Gore detailed how the contemporary corporate media has corrupted democracy. He spoke eloquently of how the American Revolution had recognized the value of an informed public and that "what resulted from this shared democratic enterprise was a startling new development in human history: for the first time, knowledge regularly mediated between wealth and power."

In "Fog Facts," Beinhart reinforces Gore's point of how far we have strayed from our revolutionary heritage of public debate on public policy among a citizenry kept abreast of the latest news by the likes of Tom Paine.

"The failure of the media to take responsibility," Beinhart writes, "is the reason that political lying -- especially in the soft-core, public relations style that misleads -- has no penalties anymore." (To BuzzFlash, this brings to mind how the New York Times, like the White House, never held anyone on its staff accountable for the misleading reporting leading up to the Iraq War. Much of the media and the Bush administration are complicit partners in disseminating fog facts.)

And Beinhart understands the repercussion of an obsequious media that not only supports the Bushevik spin, but also abdicates its journalistic responsibilities by focusing on entertaining and titillating celebrity and bizarre news trivia. "This is a practical issue," Beinhart concludes, "not merely a moral one. If you drive around in the fog, you must go very slowly. Americans like to go fast. When you speed in the fog, eventually you crash into something."

Fog facts are "important things that nobody seems able to focus on anymore than they can focus on a single droplet in the mist."

The Iraq War and the stolen election of 2000 strike BuzzFlash as two such fog facts, as does the Downing Street Memo -- which the media dismissed by intoning that everyone knew by now that the White house lied about the Iraq War. Tell that to the people who still believe Bush speaks the word of God and that Saddam Hussein was responsible for 9/11 and really had Weapons of Mass Destruction.

Television news is the primary fog machine that leaps over the big facts that are essential to the functioning of democracy to get to a story about a runaway bride.

Soon Americans will be dazzled by the extraordinary detail of High Definition Television, but their news will continue to be as dense as a London fog.



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