Agony and IronyIt's with bitter irony that on the same day Pat Tillman's family and Jessica Lynch testified before a congressional committee about the Pentagon's abusive adulturation of their stories for the purposes of its ongoing propaganda and misinformation about the war in Iraq that we learn of the death of David Halberstam. I found this tribute to the journalist, the relevant passages below:
Halberstam told The Nation magazine that today the United States is what he called an "entertainment society. We want to be entertained more than we want to think. It's a serious problem. We're the most powerful nation in the world, but our network broadcast is increasingly about celebrity, sex, and scandal. It's less about substance than it used to be. It's not as good as it should be. And it makes us a more volatile society. We pay very little attention to the rest of the world, then when the rest of the world doesn't act in concert with us and salute us, we're very angry."
The corporate ownership of newspapers today means that the kind of aggressive reporting that characterized journalism in the 1960s and 1970s, bringing down the presidency of Richard Nixon, who was forced to resign in 1973, is no longer possible. That kind of clamorous, insistent reporting by major news organizations in the face of public opinion, no matter how erroneous that opinion may be, fanned by jingoists waving the bloody shirt, causes editors and stockholders big headaches.
As school children in this country, we are taught that we have a "free press" in America because it's not controlled by the government. But we can't pretend that corporate-owned media is unbiased, just as we must be watchful in monitoring the relationship between our government and those very corporations that are doing the broadcasting and printing.
Does Halberstam's death mark the demise of critical thought and forthright, unbiased reporting in the United States? It's up to us to make sure it doesn't, and we must be vigilant.