Only a few things considered

Robert Siegel is a news reader for NPR, and widely considered one of the better ones in the country. He is the host of a show called “All Things Considered” which airs each evening.

Siegel once commented that he would not be interested in “… airing the views of such media and political critics as Noam Chomsky” on All Things Considered. (Yes, I too marvel at the inappropriateness of the program’s name.)

Siegel routinely allows all manner of right-wing and right-center commentary on its programming, but insists that Chomsky is not welcome. He has said that Chomsky

“…evidently enjoys a small, avid, and largely academic audience who seem to be persuaded that the tangible world of politics is all the result of delusion, false consciousness and media manipulation.”

The word “evidently” is a tell, indicating the Siegel is not familiar with Chomsky’s writing or his world-wide reputation. If Siegel had real chops, he would be eager to discuss Chomsky’s ideas among critics and supporters and with Noam himself. Listeners could draw their own conclusions rather than having Siegel act as gatekeeper.

Not so. Chomsky is simply dismissed. He has been interviewed widely all over the world on media outlets large and small. He routinely fills concert halls and other venues when he lectures both in the US and abroad. But only rarely, perhaps three times in fifty years, has he been allowed on the American mainstream media.

Ours is a heavily censored media that allows discussion of issues only within a very narrow framework, that of our two corporate financed parties. It is true that there is passion involved as they debate horse races and candidate speeches or wedge politics. They do give the appearance of diversity of views. This is important, as it reinforces the illusion of self-government.

The natural effect of the censorship is an out-of-sight-out-of-mind environment where media distracts more than informs, and points our attention at minutiae while ignoring the vital issues of our time, the ongoing investigation of major events part of it. Siegel (or Brian Williams or Jon Stewart) would be quickly out of a job if he dared discuss the glaring contradictions in the official 9/11 story, but is on safe ground talking about legalized pot or a mosque or abortion.

If you really want to be challenged to consider ideas of thinkers of high caliber, go back in time and watch the following, from an era when there was a freer marketplace for ideas, though even then heavily censored. (Buckley, after all, was given free access to public television for his whole right-wing agenda, while no such access has ever been allowed dissidents of Chomsky’s ilk.) The two clips in total are about nineteen minutes.

About Mark Tokarski

Just a man who likes to read, argue, and occasionally be surprised.
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10 Responses to Only a few things considered

  1. steve kelly says:

    Why debate when the game was over a long time ago? Sheldon Wolin calls it “inverted totalitarianism.” One giant open-air concentration camp/plantation.

    “Politicians do corporate bidding and stage hollow acts of political theater to keep the fiction of the democratic state alive.

    There is no national institution left that can accurately be described as democratic.” – Chris Hedges http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/democracy_in_america_is_a_useful_fiction_20100124

    Like

    • I rarely vote, and at the same time realize that democracy, for all its flaws, is the only way we can move out one set of flawed leaders and install perhaps better ones. The problem in our country is that we are only allowed to choose leaders from one group, the bought parties, who merely from front for the oligarchs. So democracy does not exist, but would be worth a try.

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      • steve kelly says:

        Yes, but. Wave after wave of undemocratic laws make our constitution(s) uninforceable. That is why oligarchs and their minions don’t need to debate or amend, but rather ignore, the limits placed on government power. When new parties cannot be formed, candidates can’t get their name on the general election ballot, or when they do are arrested trying to simply attend a fixed political “debate,” it’s effectively over. Events may dictate change, but we, the people are pissing in the wind at this point.

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        • I agree with all of that. I just cannot think of a more ideal form of government than a republic, with a vigilant population. It ain’t here.

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          • steve kelly says:

            “Drugged” humans have little vigilance. Stupified. Scurring madly backwards. Bread and circuses, pharmaceuticals if ncessary, effectively prevent any chance of a republic any time soon. I would never say never, however.

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  2. Big Swede says:

    And the despair just keeps increasing.

    “Just as it is at the ballot box here in America and Israel, leftism undisguised is dying in cable news. According to a Politico report, MSNBC is sinking fast and prepared to throw everyone overboard not named Joe Scarborough and Rachel Maddow. The new apparent plan is to move the failing cable news channel to the political right, and in some cases not even stopping at the center. It looks as though MSNBC is looking for a conservative host.”

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  3. Remember Cenk Uygar, the Young Turk, was set to have his own show, but backed out when he learned that he could only cover D vs R and not stray outside those bounds. Al Sharpton took his place, promising never to criticize Obama.

    I have not watched MSNBC since 2008 but I was pretty hooked on it then.

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  4. There are few people on the planet–or in history–as intelligent or as well-read as Chom’. Any political, economical or social discussion is woefully inadequate without his input. Shame on NPR. (Good piece, by the by.)

    Liked by 1 person

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