[FoRK] Al Gore, memespace pollution, Fairness Doctrine

Jeff Bone <jbone at place.org> on Fri May 25 20:59:10 PDT 2007

Interpret the subject line as you like. ;-)

I'm reading Al Gore's book "The Assault on Reason" this evening.  I  
know, I know, this despite having said --- I meant it, I swear ---  
that I'm "sick to death of politics."  It's a Friday night, sheesh!   
What are ya gonna do?

I'm barely through the intro and I'm compelled to make two comments  
already.  In discussing the perversion of public discourse in America  
today by the trifecta of media evil that we see today (concentrated  
ownership, increasing influence of advertising, and the blurring of  
distinction between news and entertainment) of Gore recounts (yuk yuk  
yuk ;-) the following events, which you might recall from the spare  
few minutes of news coverage this got:

"MoveOn.org tried to buy an ad for the 2004 Super Bowl broadcast to  
express opposition to Bush's economic policy, which was then being  
debated by Congress.  CBS told MoveOn that 'issue democracy' was not  
permissible.  Then, CBS, having refused the MoveOn ad, began running  
advertisements by the White House in favor of the president's  
controversial proposal.  So MoveOn complained, and the White House ad  
was temporarily removed.  By temporarily, I mean it was removed until  
the White House complained, and CBS immediately put the ad back on,  
yet refused to present the MoveOn ad."

Houston, we have a problem.

The Fairness Doctrine may not be the answer, but the problem is a  
very serious one...

As mentioned I'm barely into the book, but just on the basis of the  
intro I'm concerned that Al's not seeing the elephant in the living  
room.  His thematic target in relation to the public discourse is the  
impact of television with its one-way nature and it's attention- 
deficit economics.  He's missing the bigger problem.  The radio, and  
particularly the Internet, threaten the quality of public discourse  
in this country even more than television;  radio --- that dying  
medium --- has shaped the last two decades of politics in a profound  
yet grotesque way;  it has the *appearance* of being real  
"discourse."  People call in, debate various points, etc.  Yet it  
allows extreme specialization and balkanization;  the people that  
hang out on talk radio (believe they) live in a *different reality*  
than the rest of us.  Seriously.  And the Internet, of course,  
enabled even greater balkanization of the space of ideas.

Interesting book so far.  More later.


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