|BuzzFlash News Analysis|
May 3, 2005
|NEWS ANALYSIS ARCHIVES|
Reality Hurts The Ratings, Scares Away Advertisers, And Upsets The White House
A BUZZFLASH NEWS ANALYSIS
As we mentioned in our weekend editorial, while the world is going to Hell in a hand basket, mainstream America media focused on every angle of how a bride-to-be got cold feet and skipped town, while lauding Laura "Pickles" Bush for her "performance" at the annual D.C. correspondents dinner. These are the news priorities in the mainstream press.
David Corn, a columnist for the Nation, captured the surreal atmosphere at the correspondents dinner, where our "seasoned" journalists were choking on their coq au vin (or whatever) with laughter:
Don't you think the press might have been sensitive to the hypocrisy of a president who teaches "absolute" moral values and denounces the allegedly low moral standards of television having his wife employ the same kind of humor? No, not this crowd of D.C. mainstream press insiders. They are so cynical and complacent with their fat paychecks that they just consider the whole presidency a performance. There aren't REALLY issues. There are just appearances to be "reviewed" and power plays to be reported on. Most of the people in that room, are, in essence (whatever their titles), political entertainment reporters working for largely entertainment companies, where their news divisions are just another form of entertainment.
And they know that they can never, ever personally question the credibility of America's Bulljiver-in-Chief, George W. Bush, because they would be out of a job within hours of THE call to their publisher from Karl Rove.
In light of this weekend's journalistic malfeasance by most of the mainstream media, we went out and rented the 1992 film "Bob Roberts" (done in faux documentary style), written by and starring Tim Robbins
Just call it clairvoyant, prescient, brilliant.
If this incredibly insightful film did not warn America what was headed our way -- a politics ruled by cynical emotional and media manipulation -- through performance -- for the benefit of the wealthy -- then nothing did.
Tim Robbins, who BuzzFlash readers will remember was kept from attending an anniversary showing of "Bull Durham" at the Cooperstown Hall of Fame by the Busheviks because he and his wife, Susan Sarandon, opposed the Iraq War, plays the role of a Pennsylvania Senate candidate. His political statements exist almost solely of parodies of Bob Dylan's songs that belittle the poor, the weak and extol the virtues of wealth, selfishness and manipulative "Patriotic" symbols. The "Anti-Dylan" candidacy is meant to focus on how corrupting the '60s were to America's moral fiber. He literally "performs" his campaign of greed and blaming the victim rather than speaking to any specific issues.
Of course, Roberts is a corrupt hypocrite, but that's another story.
Robbins is Bush with a guitar, although Bob Roberts (the fictional candidate) surpasses Bush in that he was actually a success at business.
Gore Vidal plays the professorial, humanistic, caring candidate Roberts takes on and Vidal's character decries the rise of a politics based on emotion rather than reality. In fact, Roberts becomes a religious idol to his many voter fans. He is the singing demagogue. Bob Roberts, as a candidate, represents the literal merger of politics and entertainment, aimed at manipulating powerful primal emotions in the electorate.
Of course, this was filmed during the post-Contra era, and there are drugs for guns and all sorts of scams lurking in the background of Bob Roberts. But, with the exception of one intrepid African-American alternative press reporter, the media is pretty much fixated on Bob's crooning at the Ms. Pennsylvania pageant in Altoona, and an obviously non-existent, but slanderous "scent of scandal" around Gore Vidal's character, created by the Roberts campaign. And this was before Karl Rove's ship came in.
Roberts is described as a rebel conservative. Gore Vidal's character tells the fictional documentary maker that he doesn't think there's anything in Bob Roberts beyond what he sings -- and his ambition.
" Bob Roberts" warned us that the politics of emotional manipulation was superseding the politics of rational public policy and reality. It presaged the idea of a country under the spell of national hysteria created by selfish manipulators who lured support and then ran the government in secret. The mainstream media, particularly television and talk radio, was and is their megaphone.
With his professorial bow tie and heartfelt Northeastern compassion, Vidal's character was barely a match for the slick, handsome, smooth as silk, folksinger for selfishness and greed, Bob Roberts, who built his launching platform with an allegedly anti-drug organization that turns out to be a front for the CIA (which used funds from the charity in a scam to arm death squads, instead of building housing for the poor, which it was supposed to be used for.)
Tim Robbins took a look at the Reagan years, when we had a man literally "acting" the role of president, instead of being president. He saw the press, as one author noted, cover Reagan "on bended knee." And no one need look further than Robbins' moving, eloquent, pitch perfect speech to the National Press Club after he was disinvited from Cooperstown because of his politics to know that he knew "a chill wind was coming" down the political pike.
This is a disturbing, humorous, troubling, and "I told you so" film all rolled into one. It stays with you a long time, because we're living the Bob Roberts' presidency right now. Two years after the film was released, Rick "Man on Dog" Santorum became a senator from Pennsylvania by beating a professorially opponent, Harris Wofford. Wofford's low-key style, common sense, and concern for the well-being of the working stiffs and the poor was no doubt the basis for Gore Vidal's character in the film.
Too bad everyone thought "Bob Roberts" was fiction.
One only need to have been with the D.C. beltway mainstream press at their dinner to know, nowadays, it's all entertainment.
Reality hurts the ratings, scares away advertisers, and upsets the White House.
So why not just let them eat entertainment, as a modern day Marie Antoinette might say.
A BUZZFLASH NEWS ANALYSIS
Note: Last year, we offered "Bob Roberts" as a premium for awhile, but we rotate our premiums and it's not in stock at BuzzFlash now. But we do strongly encourage you to rent or buy it.