Poisoned Wells

The television program Law & Order recently had a character who connected psychotic murder with people who listen to Rush Limbaugh, Bill O'Reilly, and Glenn Beck. The wells of public life have all been poisoned. Television entertainment is just the last stage of a long, lingering illness.

The grotesque bias of television network news and the national press media is a very old story. Forty years ago, Spiro Agnew gave his Des Moines Speech, in which he described how three powerful corporations -- CBS, NBC, and ABC -- through their television news division determined what the overwhelming majority of Americans got as "news." In the next few years, groups were formed like Accuracy in Media, which began to compile the powerful brief against leftist bias in the news.

Often this bias was as blatant as bald-faced lying. In the infamous 1971 CBS documentary "Selling of the Pentagon," answers from an Assistant Secretary of Defense in an interview were sliced and edited so that his answers to one question appeared as answers to a completely different question. Next year, weeks before a presidential election, ABC News ran a documentary on national defense full of absolutely false statements, all suggesting that McGovern was right and that America was spending far too much on national defense. Books like the 1971 study The Left-Leaning Antenna described the bias of television news many decades ago.  

Millions of Americans simply stopped believing in the media or accounted for the left-leaning bias when they thought about politics. That was a major reason why Ronald Reagan was able to win stunning political victories in spite of fanatical media opposition while Barry Goldwater suffered a landslide loss: Americans in 1964 took television news at face value, but sixteen years later, large chunks of America assumed that the mainstream media was wholly partisan.

What was true in the media was true in education. The radical nature of college is also a very old story. This extreme leftism was not a student movement; it was a faculty movement. In 1975, Victor Hickem wrote:

Distinguished and conservative professors were forced to suffer indignities in silence.  Sometimes 'unperson' to their colleagues, they failed to match the promotions and salary increased of liberal and conforming colleagues ... by 1968, academic liberalism reach the position that no applicant for a faculty job could be considered unless he or she possessed the standard precepts of liberal ideology.

Public schools followed this movement toward uniform leftist opinion by treading a bit more softly, but nonetheless surely. The macabre mind-control classrooms so familiar today, in which students are encouraged to idolize Obama or demonize Bush, have their roots in radicalized teachers' unions and college education schools owned by the left.

Along with public schools fell public libraries. The American Library Association has been so captured by the radical left that it declines to oppose the brutal oppression of dissenting librarians in Castro's totalitarian Cuba. Libraries, once innocent oases of common refreshment, have become dull organs of an intolerant ideology.

Why is the left so in control of these choke-points of information, education, and learning? The left can never prevail directly in its argument for power. It must seize and hold the intersections of social thought, discussion, information, and also amusement.

Rock music has long descended into a swamp of angry nihilism and celebratory amorality. Hollywood has also had leftists, but until the 1960s, it had healthy sprinklings of performers like Jimmy Stewart, John Wayne, Gary Cooper, and Charlton Heston. These great talents were respected and liked, but when they died, the profoundly ideological film industry had no defenders of traditional values to take their place. Once there were giants like Stewart. Today, really, there is nothing. 

Television entertainment was the last bastion of normal recreation. The iconic programs of the 1950s have been deconstructed by radicals. Shows like Father Knows Best, which was very popular and critically acclaimed, have been tarred as patriarchal. Gunsmoke, which once won many awards and celebrated individual character in stories that delighted Americans, is mocked as the standard of "Cowboy" America.

The purge of entertainment television began in the 1970s, when "message" entertainment began to creep into the program guide. M*A*S*H routinely and savagely mocked those Americans who believed that communism was evil. Bea Arthur's Maude was a goodhearted liberal in stark contrast to the mean and ignorant conservative Archie Bunker of All in the Family. The grand theme of television entertainment -- that programs bring families together in innocent pleasure -- was discarded for the cause of ideological indoctrination. 

All television families became dysfunctional. No one ever went to church, except perhaps as a prelude to madness. Slowly the storylines of television programs moved into overt advocacy. The West Wing, for example, was as blatant as a DNC advertisement. Crime shows stopped being shows about crime (like Perry Mason) and became rather shows about social pathology. 

No longer can families gather around the television and grin with I Love Lucy at the foibles of the human condition. Shows like Bonanza no longer open for us the fascinating life of our national frontier. Rod Serling once (but no more) conjured up for us the thoughtful modern fantasy of Twilight Zone. Alfred Hitchcock once challenged our wits with his ironic justice -- once, but not now. We no longer have television stars with the talent of Danny Kaye or Dean Martin; variety shows are gone forever. 

The wells have been poisoned. Entertainment in America today is as political as the entertainment of Russia in the worst days of Stalin. Law & Order must instruct us not only which individuals are killers, but also which political class of Americans are killers. We cannot stop, relax, chat, and take a cool drink from the village well together as friends. We cannot sit and laugh together at innocent fun. Entertainment has become to television what objective science has become to global warming: convicted, condemned, and banished.  

Bruce Walker is the author of two books: Sinisterism: Secular Religion of the Lie and The Swastika against the Cross: The Nazi War on Christianity.
The television program Law & Order recently had a character who connected psychotic murder with people who listen to Rush Limbaugh, Bill O'Reilly, and Glenn Beck. The wells of public life have all been poisoned. Television entertainment is just the last stage of a long, lingering illness.

The grotesque bias of television network news and the national press media is a very old story. Forty years ago, Spiro Agnew gave his Des Moines Speech, in which he described how three powerful corporations -- CBS, NBC, and ABC -- through their television news division determined what the overwhelming majority of Americans got as "news." In the next few years, groups were formed like Accuracy in Media, which began to compile the powerful brief against leftist bias in the news.

Often this bias was as blatant as bald-faced lying. In the infamous 1971 CBS documentary "Selling of the Pentagon," answers from an Assistant Secretary of Defense in an interview were sliced and edited so that his answers to one question appeared as answers to a completely different question. Next year, weeks before a presidential election, ABC News ran a documentary on national defense full of absolutely false statements, all suggesting that McGovern was right and that America was spending far too much on national defense. Books like the 1971 study The Left-Leaning Antenna described the bias of television news many decades ago.  

Millions of Americans simply stopped believing in the media or accounted for the left-leaning bias when they thought about politics. That was a major reason why Ronald Reagan was able to win stunning political victories in spite of fanatical media opposition while Barry Goldwater suffered a landslide loss: Americans in 1964 took television news at face value, but sixteen years later, large chunks of America assumed that the mainstream media was wholly partisan.

What was true in the media was true in education. The radical nature of college is also a very old story. This extreme leftism was not a student movement; it was a faculty movement. In 1975, Victor Hickem wrote:

Distinguished and conservative professors were forced to suffer indignities in silence.  Sometimes 'unperson' to their colleagues, they failed to match the promotions and salary increased of liberal and conforming colleagues ... by 1968, academic liberalism reach the position that no applicant for a faculty job could be considered unless he or she possessed the standard precepts of liberal ideology.

Public schools followed this movement toward uniform leftist opinion by treading a bit more softly, but nonetheless surely. The macabre mind-control classrooms so familiar today, in which students are encouraged to idolize Obama or demonize Bush, have their roots in radicalized teachers' unions and college education schools owned by the left.

Along with public schools fell public libraries. The American Library Association has been so captured by the radical left that it declines to oppose the brutal oppression of dissenting librarians in Castro's totalitarian Cuba. Libraries, once innocent oases of common refreshment, have become dull organs of an intolerant ideology.

Why is the left so in control of these choke-points of information, education, and learning? The left can never prevail directly in its argument for power. It must seize and hold the intersections of social thought, discussion, information, and also amusement.

Rock music has long descended into a swamp of angry nihilism and celebratory amorality. Hollywood has also had leftists, but until the 1960s, it had healthy sprinklings of performers like Jimmy Stewart, John Wayne, Gary Cooper, and Charlton Heston. These great talents were respected and liked, but when they died, the profoundly ideological film industry had no defenders of traditional values to take their place. Once there were giants like Stewart. Today, really, there is nothing. 

Television entertainment was the last bastion of normal recreation. The iconic programs of the 1950s have been deconstructed by radicals. Shows like Father Knows Best, which was very popular and critically acclaimed, have been tarred as patriarchal. Gunsmoke, which once won many awards and celebrated individual character in stories that delighted Americans, is mocked as the standard of "Cowboy" America.

The purge of entertainment television began in the 1970s, when "message" entertainment began to creep into the program guide. M*A*S*H routinely and savagely mocked those Americans who believed that communism was evil. Bea Arthur's Maude was a goodhearted liberal in stark contrast to the mean and ignorant conservative Archie Bunker of All in the Family. The grand theme of television entertainment -- that programs bring families together in innocent pleasure -- was discarded for the cause of ideological indoctrination. 

All television families became dysfunctional. No one ever went to church, except perhaps as a prelude to madness. Slowly the storylines of television programs moved into overt advocacy. The West Wing, for example, was as blatant as a DNC advertisement. Crime shows stopped being shows about crime (like Perry Mason) and became rather shows about social pathology. 

No longer can families gather around the television and grin with I Love Lucy at the foibles of the human condition. Shows like Bonanza no longer open for us the fascinating life of our national frontier. Rod Serling once (but no more) conjured up for us the thoughtful modern fantasy of Twilight Zone. Alfred Hitchcock once challenged our wits with his ironic justice -- once, but not now. We no longer have television stars with the talent of Danny Kaye or Dean Martin; variety shows are gone forever. 

The wells have been poisoned. Entertainment in America today is as political as the entertainment of Russia in the worst days of Stalin. Law & Order must instruct us not only which individuals are killers, but also which political class of Americans are killers. We cannot stop, relax, chat, and take a cool drink from the village well together as friends. We cannot sit and laugh together at innocent fun. Entertainment has become to television what objective science has become to global warming: convicted, condemned, and banished.  

Bruce Walker is the author of two books: Sinisterism: Secular Religion of the Lie and The Swastika against the Cross: The Nazi War on Christianity.

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