Newspapers and public discourse
Thu 7/24/08 4:06 PM
Thomas Friedman is a perfect example of successful journalism in a market economy. It is not about the quality of information; it is, like everything else, about marketing. Friedman starts with the conclusions that the market oligarchy wants to hear, looks for amusing anecdotal “evidence” to support them, and then communicates to and for them. The “information” is of course all wrong, but then, nobody cares. It is all about creating a self-sustaining mythology. Like Hannah Arendt said “What convinces masses are not facts, and not even invented facts, but only the consistency of the system of which they are presumably a part… Totalitarian propaganda thrives on this escape from reality into fiction, from coincidence into consistency.” (The Origins of Totalitarianism, Chapter 11, pp. 351-2.) In some ways she may represent a middle ground between Jürgen Habermas and Niklas Luhmann.
That is what bothers me so much about Chris Hedges. I feel like he is doing the same damn thing, just for a different ideology. Propaganda for the left is neither liberal nor democratic; it is just another flavor of authoritarianism. I know this is not his intent, but then neither is it Friedman’s, but I think the result may be similar, if not the same.
We have a similar problem with Al Gore’s Mansion. It takes a great deal of money, resources and energy to market an idea successfully, even if that idea is to conserve money, resources and energy.
I saw a hilarious editorial in the July 4 or 11 issue of Newsweek in a hotel lobby recently (the one with JFK on the cover). The author thought that carbon offset credits were such a good idea that we should apply it to all bad things that we want to limit. He suggested, for example, child-abuse credits.