Thursday, March 24, 2005

A Confederacy of Whores

A lot of people on the right like to complain that the media is biased toward the left, but I am here to tell you right now that the media are part of a confederacy of whores. This confederacy also includes the republican leadership in congress, with whom the Media has been in bed for at least the past three weeks. They are whoring themselves to the right, a bunch of whores themselves.

Three weeks ago the big story in every newspaper was the President’s plan to privatize social security. It had little support in the electorate and that was slipping. AARP was being called “the most powerful liberal lobby in America” in a crass attempt to discredit the major organization opposing the overhaul—one that backfired in their faces, as it was seen as an attack on old people. Most people were actively opposing the centerpiece of George W. Bush’s domestic agenda. Something had to be done. Enter the media.

Over the last three weeks a stunning change has taken place, as first the congressional hearings on steroids in baseball, and then the Michael Jackson trial, and finally the Terri Schiavo case, knocked the social security story, along with various insurgent attacks in Iraq and the bankruptcy bill, out of the news cycle. It has been a good three weeks for the Republicans. And don’t think it wasn’t intentional.

Steroids, for God’s sake! Congress has the power to investigate the Enron scandal, why Haliburton was granted the contract to supply all American military units throughout the Middle East just a few months after President Bush and Vice President Cheney took office—and a few months before we went to war in the Middle East. They could re-examine 527 political groups, or Worldcom, or the insurance scandals, or anything. No. We get steroids! I’ve got a hint for them: ATHLETES USE STEROIDS!!!!! Pass a law and get on with governing.

The news media eats it up. Mark Maguire gets up in front of congress, takes the fifth, and breaks into tears. Congressmen and women act morally superior and make stern pronouncements. The people see their heroes dragged through the mud, weep, feel betrayed, and swear they won’t ever trust another athlete again, and forget that their retirements are at risk. Meanwhile the right gets some great press, and score major points with the law and order, anti-drug crowd.

Congress didn’t have anything to do with the Michael Jackson trial, but they loved the distraction. The world’s biggest pop star, a walking circus act, goes on trial for molestation, shows up late to court in his pajamas, and, like the baseball stars, gets torn down by the spectacle and by his own hubris. The falls of both Maguire and Jackson are sophoclean in their magnitude: pitiful, frightening, tragic (Hell, it was so effective that hardly anybody noticed when Robert Blake got acquitted).

But these were just warm-ups to the Schiavo case. Look up “manipulator” in the dictionary and there will be a picture of Bill Frist. Look, I don’t know if Terri Schiavo should die. I don’t know if she expressed a wish to die. I do know that the Florida courts after years of examination decided that she did. But don’t tell that to the right, to the whores in congress or their accomplices, the whores in the media. All of the Republicans, from the president on down, can shore up their support among conservative Christians, get a whole lot of press that makes them look great trying to fight the evil nasty judge and the evil nasty husband in a hopeless effort to save a dying woman’s life, and at the same time distract the country from the President’s social security bill. It is the ultimate Red Herring! And it is disgusting! The sleazy attacks the right is making on both the Judge in this case and on Michael Schiavo are the lowest form of political invective. They’ve been called scumbags, murderers, and Nazis. And, unfortunately, people watching cable news networks eat it up. Attacks ad hominem (that is to say, mudslinging) are always effective because people would rather hear dirt on somebody then think about the issues, but to anyone actually looking at and contemplating the issues, like, oh, just about every judge in the Florida and Federal judiciaries by now, no that mudslinging is not argument. It is fallacious, and it is engaged in by people who don’t actually have reason, logic, evidence or any other kind of real argument on their side. The only people who are not whores in this are Terri, her parents, and her husband—none of whose pain we can fathom, whose business the federal government has no place butting into.

And, by the way, how did a bunch of states rights republicans take it upon themselves to try to undermine the sovereignty of the state of Florida with special legislation designed to overturn a Florida case. Talk about the heights of hypocrisy!

But who cares! Everybody gets what they want! The media get a series of soap operas, each one of which puts Desperate Housewives to shame. Their ratings go through the roof. The talking heads get to scream at and about people. Republicans get to look good to the fundamentalists. The fundamentalists get act morally superior, pray on television, and spread their message of love, understanding, compassion and mercy. The Republicans whore themselves out to the fundamentalists, the media whores themselves out to the Republicans, while simultaneously whoring themselves out to the advertisers, and we are all whores for watching.

In the meantime, nobody’s talking about the bankruptcy bill, nobody knows what’s going on in Iraq, social security is being plundered—and the baseball players are still millionaires, Michael Jackson is still on trial, and Terri Schiavo is still going to die.

Whores, every one!


Anonymous JP Andrews said...

You're totally right

As you know I'm on the other side of the isle from you politically, but I can't help but agree with your take on this unpleasent situation. The republicans are using this case to shore up their support with the religious right, a small, but very loud, part of their base.

The truth, IMO, is that the republicans know they are not going to give the religious right anything of substance. There will be no new restrictions on abortion, no way of preventing the religious monuments from being taken out of court houses across the nation, and no effective action to ban gay marrage. The only thing the administration and the leadership can do that will look good to the religious right is stand up and make unfounded statments about the "plight" of an unfortunate woman and her family.

It's funny, but the religious right is being played here by the administration and the republican leadership. The right to lifers aren't actually getting anything, but the are being made to feel as if they are, as if the republican leadership and the administration on on their side. In some ways I feel kind of bad for them, they haven't even noticed that their support is being bought with nothing but smoke and mirrors.

1:41 AM  

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