Mass media and private liberty

The spectacle of a White House warring against the single television news network which does not fawn over the president, and attacking his most prominent talk radio show critic, brings home just how bureaucratized information, opinion, and thought have become in America.  In television news a handful of institutions determine what is newsworthy and what is not for those tens of millions who only get news from the video screen.  That decision -- what is "news" -- decides everything.  If, for example, the establishment leftist media decides that the tragic story of families with a sick member who lacks health insurance is "news," then the rest of the story follows automatically.

It seems hard for us to grasp that once news, entertainment, and education were not utterly bureaucratized.   During the American Revolution, a single book by an ordinary American, Common Sense, provided much of the rhetorical firepower needed to defeat the arguments of those Americans still uncertain about fighting for independence.   Small gatherings of average Americans talked about Common Sense, which was not the product of a mass market machine.  After the Constitutional Convention in 1789, three Americans wrote short articles and letters in support of the new proposed form of government and these letters, The Federalist Papers, formed much of the argument in support of the new Constitution.

Today, as Obaman flacks throw spitballs at Fox News, and as Fox News presents programs to millions of its viewers in response, two separate issues should catch our attention.  First, of course, nearly all of the institutions of information, education, and entertainment are aligned like lockstep little soldiers in the legions of Obama.  Young children in public schools sing the praises of Obama.  College professors enforce the party line of the left in far too many classrooms.  CNN "fact checks" SNL comedy skits about Obama.  The very fact that Obaman minions are able to designate which huge institution is not marching in perfect unison with all the others spotlights just how much of institutional America is simply an appendage of leftism. 

The second issue is sometimes harder to see.  Americans are profoundly influenced by vast institutions.  This influence did not matter when corporations genuinely competed, when political parties had different philosophies, and when colleges were largely religious and held differing views on different academic subjects which reflected theological differences.  Americans were able to pick and choose institutions which reflected not only their commercial choices but also their beliefs or tastes or values.  

Mass media once was a flurry of highly competitive newspapers who delighted in scooping other city newspapers for big stories, and whose editorial policies were almost always in conflict with each other because the newspapers themselves had certain philosophical and political "customers" who expected their newspaper to be a watchdog on the opposition.   Every major city in the nation had several newspapers who disagreed with each other on policy issues and who presented news stories with different slants.   The citizen was protected from the abuse because of very real competition between newspapers, just as Green Giant and Birdseye competed with each other for the frozen food customers.

The monolithic nature of leftism, however, prevented flourishing competition among big institutions from protecting us.  As the left became a sort of political religion, the employees, directors, and owners of mass media corporations all began to think just alike.  Part of that hive mentality has been attributed to geography:  New York, DC, Los Angeles, and a few other places housed nearly all the television news and entertainment executives, most book publishing and film making, the bosses of the music industry, and the lords of Madison Avenue.  

It became possible to attend a cocktail party in which every potentate of popular culture voted for the liberal Democrat presidential nominee, even when the conservative Republican candidate had carried forty-nine states.  It became possible also for men like Obama, Axelrod, Emanuel to attend "respectable" colleges without, really, having to think an original and independent thought.    It became possible for men to rise to heights without knowing any facts by mastering the catechism of leftism perfectly. 

Leftism became an infection of mind and of spirit which grew into raging epidemic within those organs of mass media, and anyone who did not show symptoms of the sickness were, themselves, diagnosed as sick.  Private thought, belief, and opinion became evidence of a stubborn unwillingness to submerge into the oblivion of the collective hive. 

Because the opponents of the hive mentality of mass media have a thousand different opinions and beliefs, mass media finds its opposition incomprehensible and unconquerable.  The idea that ten million free Americans could have almost as many viewpoints simply does not occur to people manufactured from childhood with a single viewpoint presented in cartoons, classrooms, college campuses, comedies, and corporate bureaucracies. 

The nihilism which passes for thought and belief in the world of leftism relentlessly imposes itself within these bureaucracies of sameness and communal sentiment.  The same sheep of sixties radicalism, who listened to the same music, sported the same Marxist murderers on their t-shirts, and who protested the same eternal faults in free societies now have become the big babies governing our big institutions.  These eternal infants cannot crush what they cannot understand.  

Independent and private thought exists even in the ghastliest realms.  Even without Fox News, even with every piece of artillery that the hordes of leftism could muster, Ronald Reagan came within a few thousand votes of carrying every state in the nation twenty-five years ago.  Freedom prevails over slavish pyramids of power:  that is the epithet of all enemies of our liberty.

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.