Thursday, July 23, 2009

CRONKITE - relaying his master's voice

Hey, I liked Walter Cronkite, too, but come on now.

This is not the end of an era. That era ended a long time ago. And good riddance to it.

The idea that a single anchorperson of the corporate media should have enormous power over what Americans think is not only anachronistic; it.s undemocratic and distorting.

Walter Cronkite.s sign off, .that.s the way it is,. was itself a distortion and a conceit, masking the biases and choices and omissions that go into producing a newscast.

I.m troubled by the adhesive adjective .avuncular,. which, we were reminded again, was attached to his name. This implies that the citizens of a democracy are merely little unshaped nieces and nephews that have to sit at their uncle.s knee to get the received wisdom.

And the wisdom itself, even at its apogee, was less than what been constantly told these last few days.

Yes, it was important that Cronkite recognized Vietnam for the stalemate it was. But then he laid it on thick, calling Americans .an honorable people who lived up to their pledge to defend democracy, and did the best they could..

But we weren.t defending democracy in Vietnam.

We weren.t acting as honorable people in Vietnam, with My Lai and all the napalm and the carpet-bombing and the toll of 2 to 3 million dead Vietnamese.

But to admit that would have been, as Noam Chomsky observed long ago, to move .beyond the bounds of thinkable thought..

The corporate media bury their leaders with kingly honors. So it was with Tim Russert. Now it is with Walter Cronkite.

But we are not their subjects. And they are not our rulers. And as for me, I.ll take the current media landscape, with a multiplicity of voices and many megaphones, over the baritone and the single microphone at CBS News.

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posted by u2r2h at 10:04 PM


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