Thursday, February 15, 2018

The Olympics And The Media, Continued

     A "critic" is a person who creates nothing and thereby feels qualified to judge the work of creative people. There is logic in this; he is unbiased -- he hates all creative people equally. – Robert A. Heinlein

     The above quote, from one of the grandmasters of speculative fiction, has been much on my mind since I penned yesterday’s tirade. While the parallel is inexact, there are similarities between the critic in some artistic or expressive field and the reporter / commentator who writes about the comings, goings, and doings of the politically highly placed.

     The late, great Marshall Fritz, one of the few persons in the liberty movement who actually strove to understand why and how individuals reach their political stances, was of the opinion that persons in the communicative trades – education, entertainment, and journalism – are actuated above all other things by their emotions. When they confront some event or phenomenon, the most important aspect of it is how it makes them feel. Rational, organizational, and other considerations take a back seat to that emotional response – sometimes so far back as to be in another vehicle.

     Strong emotions are the principal spur to self-expression, especially written self-expression. And of course, the aim of one who writes for popular consumption is to get the reader to react to the subject matter as the writer did, for the same reasons and at the same intensity as the writer reacted. (Take it from one who’s been there.) That being the case, the emotionally-oriented writer will emphasize those aspects of his subject matter that are most emotionally stimulating.

     The emotions that go along with monitoring and reporting on those who wield power are unusual ones. Admiration for the highly placed is normal, but in a powerfully emotion-driven person it would be tempered – and sometimes nullified – by the emotional considerations pertinent to the individual. In our time, the ruling consideration is a combination of perversions of two otherwise laudable impulses: tolerance for the different and excluded, and compassion for the weak and downtrodden.

     I used the word perversions with a definite meaning in mind. As they were once practiced, tolerance and compassion were positive things. However, for Smith to approve of politician Jones because Jones represents himself as tolerant and compassionate is a short circuit. It neglects the actual effects of the stances and policies Jones adopts. It also neglects Jones’s priorities as they are exposed by his other words and deeds: in particular, whether he puts his political fortunes above all other considerations.

     The Left has glossed over the atrocities committed by the rulers of socialist states. Moreover, it has succeeded to a considerable extent in persuading the susceptible that “real socialism has never been tried.” That enables it to maintain the fiction that socialist policies are the more tolerant and compassionate – i.e., the more admirable. Because the emotionally-driven journalist is less concerned with how something makes him feel than with its actual effects, he will be among the susceptible. Worse, he will resist attempts to “clue him in” to what socialism really does to those who are subjected to it.

     I concluded yesterday’s piece by saying that “There can be only base motives propelling these stances. But why should journalism and commentary attract persons with predominantly low motives?” Perhaps I exaggerated the necessary baseness of journalist Smith’s motives. He may only be shallow. He may only be uninterested in learning what lies behind politician Jones’s pretty phrases. But it also possible that Smith, like many persons in other walks of life, is moved in part by his aversions – and that they include a strong aversion to those who have proved him wrong. Add in Smith’s understandable envy of persons such as Jones whose prestige exceeds his, and his desire to be seen as a “force” in political discourse, both for the sake of “tolerance” and “compassion,” and for his own advancement in his trade.

     Food for thought.

1 comment:

Bill Sheffield said...

News anchors are among the best examples. Cronkite and Huntley/Brinkley, were not neutral or right of center, but delivered the news with an even, fact based tone. Today's generation of talking heads is off the charts with emotion. Dial into NPR while driving, and guarantee the rest of your day will be a bummer after listening to their incessant whining and annoying liberal doom.

The major network pretty boys have perfected the art of inserting "crisis mode" into every hand picked, slanted story. The only news with a positive aspect is the little feel good piece at the end of the broadcast promoting some emotional, liberal cause. I very rarely view the news directly, as I'm usually at the keyboard of my desktop while my wife is viewing. The cadence and telltale emotion floating out from these overpaid propagandists is sickening.