Evolving Peace

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Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Kill Your Television

Growing up as a child I remember lying on the living room floor watching television. Evenings were planned based on what was scheduled on T.V. So as a child my vision of the world around me was based on what the networks decided to air. Walter Cronkite was the voice of America and what Walter said was laid in stone, like God speaking to Moses. Now in my thirty’s I see how much of modern American society revolves around television and it scares me.

Today on the blog, Green Mountain Daily (http://www.greenmountaindaily.com/showDiary.do?diaryId=710), Odum lays out the groundwork for petitioning the FCC to revoke the license of local WCAX TV. Being the only major news network broadcasting within the state of Vermont it is known as being “Vermont’s Own.” Or as Vermont Seven Days columnist Peter Fryne labels it as GOP TV. Now, myself as someone who does not watch TV, I can not comment about the content of WCAX but I have a feeling that it is not that much different from TV of years past. Stating from news reports I have read WCAX refused to air or sponsor any of the recent gubernatorial debates during the election campaign, despite airing debates from the other major races.

According to FCC’s license requirements broadcasters on the airwaves must provide certain amounts of service to the public. While there can be debates on how WCAX provides information to the public, we can see that there is a possible problem with the editorial or programming content chosen by the staff at WCAX. While they had chosen the other races they failed to broadcast the race for the leadership of the state it call’s home.

Marselis Parsons, news director and anchor for WCAX, at The Money and Politics symposium(sponsored by VPR) in September had expressed his opinion that it was not the responsibility of the news media to cover every event deemed newsworthy by others, but events that were out of the ordinary should. As an example, he stated that Governor Douglass receiving an endorsement from a union was, but for Bernie Sanders it was not news. I guess his logic is that all unions support Democratic or left leaning candidates and that is old and on the other hand very few unions support Republicans so I guess that is news. Using Marselis’s logic I suppose that is why, the news media never covers the lies and corruption of President Bush and his Republican colleagues since that is not new but old. Corruption and government lies have been a tactic by Republican Presidents for years so nothing new with that, thus not news.

In Florida courts have ruled that the FOX news is not obligated to tell the truth. “In February 2003, a Florida Court of Appeals unanimously agreed with an assertion by FOX News that there is no rule against distorting or falsifying the news in the United States” is listed with http://www.projectcensored.org as being a top censored story of 2005. The news media has become flash entertainment and infotainment, with no concerns on the truth or factuality of issues.

As the minds of Americans are being absorbed into their televisions the world revolves around them. There are many American’s who’s view of reality is what is on the latest reality television show, not what is in their family or community. Survivor, American Idol or the Bachelor tell them what is “cool” and what is not. Television news and Sports shows tell them that Chevrolet is the Heartbeat of America, Pepsi is the Right Choice and GE brings good things to life. News channels broadcast gleeful Americans at shopping malls, inform us of the latest diet craze and keep us up to date on Pamela Anderson’s love life. America has the most informed consumers while the rest of the world ponders solving the causes of global warming. Barely ever does the news flash tell you that the Chevy SUV is a major contributor to global warming, Pepsi and other advertisers are responsible for the flabby stomach or that GE is a major recipient in military contracts and heavily invested in volatile Nuclear Power Plants.

So, while we have gone from the days of the past where Walter Cronkite blurted out that Vietnam was a bloodbath and that the Vietnam War should end to a media that has conformed to the wishes of the establishment. Conservatives will complain to you that the “liberal media” is poising the public but the evidence is contradictory to their claims. There is very little media controlled by “liberals” today. Large media conglomerates are dominated by conservatives. Sinclair Broadcasting, News Corp and Rupert Murdoch, Clear Channel and Bloomberg prioritize what the American Public hears. ABC and Disney tell you to go to the Happiest Place on Earth; while in years past GE told you through NBC that nuclear energy is safe. The power of the major advertisers does thwart negative press and demands promotion of their products and agendas.

Here in Vermont, there may be WCAX-TV or GOP-TV and some other stations that I choose not to watch because I fail to see the validity of their content. Yes, there may be some “beneficial television” but I have my skepticism of the messages being aired by that medium. Scientific studies have proven that more brain power is required to focus on a television screen than is used for most other activities, thus leaving the mind with less capacity for activities such as thought. The television is truly the “idiot box,” and if one chooses to I suggest think for yourself and turning of your television. We all have a right to think no matter what Marselis Parsons and WCAX TV or Rupert Murdoch and Fox News tell you.


Robb Kidd

“Television has done much for psychiatry by spreading information about it, as well as contributing to the need for it.” Alfred Hitchcock


At December 07, 2006 8:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ahh, you need a dish that gets Free Speech TV and Link TV. You would never leave the set.

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