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.