The Silver Lining

By the mid 1980s I was fairly sure that the news was canned, delivered by press release to city desks, managing editors and producers. I labeled this pervasive technique News By Press Release. I proved my thesis one afternoon by popping into PR Newswire's downtown Denver office. I slid four hundred words across the counter along with a one hundred dollar bill. No editing, no fact checking, no backgrounding, no multiple sourcing. Just what I had ginned up in the way of a news release for a shell corporation I owned, and out it went over the wire to every newsroom in the nation.?No one asked if what was on that one page release was factual, let alone true. Apparently they didn't even care if it was libelous. I paid in cash and they fed my words into the maw of the news machine.

Vice President Dick Cheney's unfortunate hunting accident has a silver lining for those who can see it. The resulting media?embarrassment proved that the US Media in all it's power and reach has become so moribund, so lazy, so lacking in essential vigor that they forgot to disguise their actual anger. Their braying complaint? That the White House waited 24 hours before telling them about an accident.

Think about that for a moment. What this implies.

They clearly and irrevocably made it clear that they expect to be fed. Cannot operate unless the story is given to them. That they no longer know how to feed themselves, or probably even know what that means. They have descended to a level of absurd sucklings utterly dependent upon Others. A caricature of themselves that is damning, that they cannot do their job unless first some other party gives them the story.

What this indicates to me is latte, croissants, a bored indifference waiting for the phone to ring, the fax machine to spit out pages, or an email to pop up on screen. They have, as a class, waxed fat off the leak, grown to the size of 900 pound men who cannot get up off of their sofa, stuffing themselves on faux stories delivered by press officers who do the work reporters are supposed to do. The media itself is barely more than a revolving door for public relations agencies and image experts, where everyone is a journalist and no one is a reporter. But this past week, the Media Class made it abundantly clear to those who have eyes and will see and to those who have ears and will hear, that they are pitiable eunuchs by a boudoir door, dependent upon first hand reports from others. When Dick Cheney's considerable entourage again proved they keep their lips zipped, as can the whole of GW's administration, the press howled for their scraps. And there's the key — they felt denied.

Which brings to mind French farmers. Every time the government of France speaks of cutting subsidies their farmers erupt into violent mobs burning cars and trucks, shutting down transportation, smashing, crashing, destroying even murdering those they imagine are denying them what they are accustomed to.

The American press this past week looked and sounded like a French farmer facing subsidy cuts. They exposed themselves. They cannot deliver their product but that first someone else gives it to them. And woe unto those who withhold the accustomed handout.

And that is a sad and dangerous little man to contemplate. No wonder people of substance pay scant attention to them, anymore.