Funhouse Mirrors of Corporate Media

Many talk about biases in the media, by which they typically mean the ‘mainstream’ (corporate) media. Most people would agree that biases exist. Yet it is hard to find agreement about what those biases are. Maybe that is an important part of it. The issue isn’t just about biases, but how our very perception of biases becomes biased. We lose perspective because our entire reality has become so mediated by media. The more our lives become saturated with media, the less we are able to see media clearly.

It’s similar to looking into a funhouse mirror and trying to discern the meaning in the warped image one sees reflected back. Now imagine if you were surrounded by funhouse mirrors on all sides, everywhere you went. To understand the distortions of one mirror, you’d look into another mirror with different distortions. We’ve come to see the funhouse mirror as reality. We are simply arguing over which funhouse mirror is least distorted or else distorted in a way that confirms our own expectations. What most of us never think about is who are the people who make the mirrors and remain hidden behind them.

Maybe the purpose of so much media isn’t in what it shows but in what it doesn’t show. The bias isn’t necessarily toward a particular ideology but rather away from the real source of power and influence. It’s a tool of distraction, a key component of politics as spectacle. If you want to know what are the issues of greatest importance and what are the views of greatest explanatory power, pay close attention to what is ignored and dismissed, what is precluded and occluded. Look for what is absent and lacking, the gap in between what is stated and the space outside of the frame where something should be.

The failure of corporate media is as much or more ommission than it is commission. Various media figures attacking each other about their supposed biases is yet more distraction. Arguing over biases is a safe and managed debate, each side playing the role of controlled opposition for the other. But what is it that both sides avoid? What is disallowed by the propaganda model of media? What is not being spoken and represented? What is missing?

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13 thoughts on “Funhouse Mirrors of Corporate Media

  1. Remember this?
    http://www.counterpunch.org/2017/01/13/why-ridiculous-official-propaganda-still-works/

    The primary aim of official propaganda is to generate an “official narrative” that can be mindlessly repeated by the ruling classes and those who support and identify with them. This official narrative does not have to make sense, or to stand up to any sort of serious scrutiny. Its factualness is not the point. The point is to draw a Maginot line, a defensive ideological boundary, between “the truth” as defined by the ruling classes and any other “truth” that contradicts their narrative.

    In short, official propaganda is not designed to deceive the public (no more than the speeches in an actor’s script are intended to deceive the actor who speaks them). It is designed to be absorbed and repeated, no matter how implausible or preposterous it might be. Actually, it is often most effective when those who are forced to robotically repeat it know that it is utter nonsense, as the humiliation of having to do so cements their allegiance to the ruling classes (this phenomenon being a standard feature of the classic Stockholm Syndrome model, and authoritarian conditioning generally).

    The point of all this propaganda is to delegitimize Donald Trump, and to prophylactically reassert the neoliberal ruling classes’ monopoly on power, “reality,” and “truth.” In case this wasn’t already abundantly clear, the neoliberal ruling classes have no intention of giving up control of the global capitalist pseudo-empire they’ve been working to establish these last sixty years. They’re going to delegitimize and stigmatize Trump (and any other symbol of nationalist backlash or resistance to transnational Capitalism), bide their time for the next four years, and then install another of their loyal servants … after which life will go back to “normal,” and liberals will do their best to forget this unfortunate period where they pretended to believe this insipid neo-McCarthyite nonsense.

    While I think Trump is terrible, the noeliberal order is also pretty awful.

    • I do remember that. It is a useful explanation. The substance of the propaganda is irrelevant. And it doesn’t matter if anyone believes it. The only purpose it serves is as a way of filtering out those who would challenge the system. It’s a test for determining who will make a good authoritarian follower.

    • Right now the partisan Democrats seem to believe it.

      The joke is that the partisan Democrats now sound like a Democratic version of Glenn Beck or Rush Limbaugh.

      This guy said it best:
      https://www.currentaffairs.org/2017/03/what-constitutes-reasonable-mainstream-opinion

      For some time, certain critics have been suggesting that the mainstream press gives a little too much credence to dubious conspiracy theories about Russia, theories which many Democrats have embraced out of their desire to undermine Donald Trump. Liberal commentators like Rachel Maddow and Keith Olbermann are beginning to sound a bit like Glenn Beck during the peak of the chalkboard-years. Any claim about nefarious doings by Vladimir Putin—for instance, that Russia hacked Vermont’s electric grid, or that the Naked Capitalism blog is Russian state propaganda—is spread widely by pundits without particular regard for the actual substantiating evidence.

      He’s one of the few I trust a lot.

      • Many Democrats have gone off the deep end. The reason for this is that this past election challenged their entire worldview. They were forced into a position to revise what they believe according to reality or to double down on crazy.

      • It appears the internet did eat your comment. I looked in the spam box and there was no comment there by you. It just disappeared into the ether.

        It’s too bad more Democrats didn’t listen to such predictions. There were others making similar predictions or at least warnings. But it wasn’t what the status quo Democrats wanted to hear.

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