Imagine a world where the elite’s professional frontmen, aka TV pundits and ‘talking heads’, framed the public debate and steered public opinion for a nation of 350 million people. In such a world, journalism became an infomercial formulated by such apparatuses as spin alley and fed to the masses as expert opinion and deep intellectual insight. Now imagine that virtually the entire nation voluntarily bought an electronic device for their home that would pipe all these fabricated talking points, along with the mind-numbing bread & circus entertainment, into their living space. We have, as Gore Vidal described, entered a digital fun house from which we cannot escape.
A novelty called television had begun to appear in household after household, it’s cold, grey distorting eye relentlessly projecting a fun house view of the world. Those who followed the ugly, new-minted word media began to note that often while watching television we kept fading in and out of the chamber of horrors… ~ Vidal
Occasionally an insightful article will be written which lifts, if only briefly, the veil of the American hologram and allows, for those brave enough to look, a glimpse of the conniving little man behind the curtain furiously working the levers to create the Great and Powerful Oz. Depending on how much you reveal of the dark truths lurking behind the curtain, you may eventually find yourself subject to unrelenting persecution and holed up in a dark solitary cell or some South American embassy situated in a vassal state. The long arm of Empire has a way of reaching those who cross her.
Lawyer and blogger Jonathan Turley is someone I frequently follow. Amongst his humorous work he also posts about serious subjects, one of which is the recently published The Pretense of Punditry by guest blogger Mike Spindell. In this post, Mr. Spindell sheds light on the inner workings behind the face of TV punditry that bombards you 24/7 and molds the conventional wisdom of the day.
What all of these shows have in common is that they are repeatedly populated by the same people, whether politicians, journalists, economists or political operators. This link gives the background of the truth of Sunday morning “journalism”. The casts rarely change and in all but the rarest of cases these guests make up what could be called our nation’s “Pundit Class”. They are seen as the “Serious People”, who lead America’s national debate on vital issues. I’ve been a “political junkie” since the age of ten. For many years I was misled into believing that these “Serious People” were really my intellectual betters when it came to public affairs and that political discussion must only exist within the ground rules of debate established by our “Pundit Class”. Beginning with the murder of JFK and in the ensuing disillusionment of the Sixties I’ve come to see that not only is this “Pundit Class” inherently corrupt, but only a rare few can barely be called intellectually informative. This group is in reality the paid propagandists of the elite 1% that rule this country and their main task is to limit the scope of our national debate.
The essay then goes into the recent plagiarism case of one of the “most esteemed members of the Pundit Class, Fareed Zakaria.” Zakaria, born in India and from the elite group of that country, is a courtier to the present Transnational Capitalism & Globalization that has been wreaking havoc on the working class and natural environment of every nation on earth.
On 8/12/12 Eric Zeusse, an investigative historian, posted an article titled: “Fareed Zakaria Is Bitten by His Own Tale: How He Helped Create the System That Bit Him Back”. He began the article in this manner and in doing so exposed me to an idea that frankly hadn’t occurred to me.
“When Fareed Zakaria was suspended on Friday from Time and CNN, for plagiarism, this wasn’t merely justice, it was poetic justice: it rhymed. What it rhymed with was his own lifelong devotion to the global economic star system that he, as a born aristocrat in India, who has always been loyal to the aristocracy, inherited and has always helped to advance, at the expense of the public in every nation. He was suspended because, as a born aristocrat, who is a long-time member of the Council on Foreign Relations, the Trilateral Commission, the Bilderberg Group, and many other of the global aristocracy’s primary organizations, he is so well-connected that his writing-commissions are more than any one person can possibly handle, and he consequently cannot possibly actually write all that is attributed to him. He certainly cannot research it all.”
As a paid public relations person for the corporatocracy, Fareed Zakaria is armed with a cadre of writers who produce the carefully vetted, status quo viewpoints that he spoon feeds his millions of viewers. As Spindell points out, it was no surprise that a few days after the plagiarism accusations, an article
appeared which exonerates Zakaria and brushes the case under the proverbial rug.
I think back to graduate schools papers I’ve written and wonder how I would have fared if I had “made a terrible mistake” in them through plagiarism. Would an investigation of my “isolated incident” and remorse have allowed me to continue in school? However, protecting Mr. Zakaria, one of the chosen, is not only important for his sake, but for the sake of these “News Entities” that rely so heavily on the “connected” pundit class to provide their“cogent” analysis of major issues.
How many other “Pundits” acting as the “serious” people are setting the parameters of the national debate through their appearances on Sunday Morning talk shows, News Channels, the PBS News Hour and it appears as paid guest speakers at supposedly meaningful conferences and conventions? The person who first came to mind as I read this article on Zakaria was Thomas Friedman. Friedman is a son of privilege who married into a billionaire family. He has been a champion of “Globalization”, which to me has always meant unbridled support for the multinational Corporatocracy…
…what is obvious and known about Friedman is that he is a pundit star, ranking with, or possibly above Zakaria in the firmament of “Serious People” who frame our national debate and dominate our national media. This is really nothing new in our country. In the past the “serious people” were the likes of Walter Lippman, and Scotty Reston. These past pundits and “cold warriors”, share a commonality with Zakaria and Friedman, in that they all serve(d) the interests of the Corporate and Monied Elite that run this country from behind the scenes. Indeed, I’m sure that you the reader could expand this very small list of those who are deemed acceptable to lead the “serious” discussion of our national/international issues.
I assert that the entire Liberal versus Conservative debate in this country is but a smokescreen that distracts us from the one most vital issue. Our nation and indeed the world is and has been controlled by an Elite representing those with most money and power. Their first allegiance is to themselves, their class and to the belief that they alone are fit to rule us all. Call it what you will, but to me it is the continuation of feudalism in modern guise. Just as in feudalism there were “Courtiers” who gladly did the bidding of their “Royal Masters”, in order to enrich their own lives. Most of the “Courtiers” were either born to, or became part of the elite, while maintaining the pretense of speaking for the benefit of all humanity…we are surrounded by experts, who in reality are propagandists purveying non-existent mythology to keep us in the thrall of the Elite…
Interestingly, Matt Taibbi has also written about the fraudster Thomas Friedman, hypnotist to the boob-tube worshipping consumers, here
When some time ago a friend of mine told me that Thomas Friedman’s new book, Hot, Flat, and Crowded, was going to be a kind of environmentalist clarion call against American consumerism, I almost died laughing.
Beautiful, I thought. Just when you begin to lose faith in America’s ability to fall for absolutely anything—just when you begin to think we Americans as a race might finally outgrow the lovable credulousness that leads us to fork over our credit card numbers to every half-baked TV pitchman hawking a magic dick-enlarging pill, or a way to make millions on the Internet while sitting at home and pounding doughnuts— along comes Thomas Friedman, porn-stached resident of a positively obscene 11,400 square foot suburban Maryland mega-monstro-mansion and husband to the heir of one of the largest shopping-mall chains in the world, reinventing himself as an oracle of anti-consumerist conservationism.
Where does a man who needs his own offshore drilling platform just to keep the east wing of his house heated get the balls to write a book chiding America for driving energy inefficient automobiles? Where does a guy whose family bulldozed 2.1 million square feet of pristine Hawaiian wilderness to put a Gap, an Old Navy, a Sears, an Abercrombie and even a motherfucking Foot Locker in paradise get off preaching to the rest of us about the need for a “Green Revolution”? Well, he’ll explain it all to you in 438 crisply written pages for just $27.95, $30.95 if you have the misfortune to be Canadian.
I’ve been unhealthily obsessed with Thomas Friedman for more than a decade now. For most of that time, I just thought he was funny. And admittedly, what I thought was funniest about him was the kind of stuff that only another writer would really care about—in particular his tortured use of the English language. Like George W. Bush with his Bushisms, Friedman came up with lines so hilarious you couldn’t make them up even if you were trying—and when you tried to actually picture the “illustrative” figures of speech he offered to explain himself, what you often ended up with was pure physical comedy of the Buster Keaton/Three Stooges school, with whole nations and peoples slipping and falling on the misplaced banana peels of his literary endeavors…
Matt has also written about the master propagandist Fareed Zakaria here:
From a distance I’ve always vaguely admired the skills of Newsweek’s Fareed Zakaria, who is maybe this country’s preeminent propagandist. Any writer who doesn’t admire what this guy does is probably not being honest with himself, because being the public face of conventional wisdom is an extremely difficult job — and as a man of letters Zakaria routinely succeeds, or pseudo-succeeds, at the most seemingly impossible literary tasks, making the sensational seem dull, the outrageous commonplace, and rendering horrifying absolutes ambigious and full of gray areas.
Wheras most writers grow up dreaming of using their talents to stir up the passions, to inflame and amuse and inspire, Zakaria shoots for the opposite effect, taking controversial and explosive topics and trying to help rattled readers somehow navigate their way through them to yawns, lower heart rates, and states of benign unconcern. He’s back at it again with a new piece about the financial crisis called “The Capitalist Manifesto,” which is one of the first serious attempts at restoring the battered image of global capitalism in the mainstream press.
This writer has done work like this before, using a big canvas to rework an uncooperative chunk of history in the wake of a crisis. Zakaria is probably best known for his post 9/11 “Why Do They Hate Us?” article, a sort of masterpiece of milquetoast propaganda that laid the intellectual foundation for a wide array of important War on Terror popular misconceptions, not the least of which being the whole “They hate us for our freedom” idea. One of Zakaria’s central arguments in that piece was that poor struggling Arabs were driven to envious violence by the endless pop-culture reminders of American affluence and progress. It was just too much to take, seeing all those cool blue jeans and all that great satellite TV.
In one exchange in that piece Zakaria talks with an elderly Arab intellectual who scoffs at Zakaria’s suggestion that Arab cities should try to be more like globalization-friendly capitals like Singapore, Seoul and Hong Kong. The old Arab protests that those cities are just cheap imitations of Houston and Dallas, and what great and ancient civilization would want that?
I thought the old Arab’s comment was funny, but Zakaria imbued it with serious significance. “This disillusionment with the West,” he wrote, “is at the heart of the Arab problem.” And while witty Arab potshots at tacky southern strip-mall meccas like Houston were significant enough to put high up in Newsweek’s seminal piece about the root causes of 9/11, things like America’s habitual toppling of sovereign Arab governments and installation of ruthless dictators like the Shah of Iran were left out more or less entirely (Zakaria managed to write a whole section on the Iranian revolution without even mentioning that the Shah come to power thanks to a CIA-backed overthrow of democratically-elected Mohammed Mosaddeq, whose crime was ejecting Western oil companies from Iran)…
Just as American journalism has become a paid spokesman for the exploitive economic system controlling the world, so too has the entire economic profession been bought off: How The Federal Reserve Bought The Economics Profession…
The Federal Reserve, through its extensive network of consultants, visiting scholars, alumni and staff economists, so thoroughly dominates the field of economics that real criticism of the central bank has become a career liability for members of the profession, an investigation by the Huffington Post has found.
And for one more example, the Great Wall of Propaganda extends to our system’s need for perpetual war as well…