Myth: Vendor Overcharges to Government (Part 1)

Posted on March 23, 2013. Filed under: Journalism | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , |

5th in the series The Manipulators

Your words for the day:

  • The Great Unwashed = another euphemism for the general public; you know, the masses of political philosophy
  • schtick = that act each of us adopts to get through this brief, but trying, thing called life
  • yellow journalism = lurid, outlandish, and inflammatory “reporting”
  • tabloid tactics = see “yellow journalism”

Who hasn’t heard it?  A high-profile vendor OVERCHARGES some government agency.  A contractor (another word for vendor) submits UNAUTHORIZED CHARGES to the Defense Department.  Big business uses federal BAIL OUT MONEY to give millions IN BONUSES to its top executives.

Who hasn’t agreed with the Media that “this is some bad stuff” costing the taxpayers some serious money?  Such information releases are directed at us, The Great Unwashed, by journalists who adopt the persona of experts-in-all-matters-deemed-beneficial to “public awareness.”  The Press ( with the big P) has only the best interest of the public in mind as it strokes those proven hot buttons of public perception and pockets huge gate receipts as we, the public sheep, ante up for our tickets to their carnival sideshow.

I, like everyone else in this Society of The Great Unwashed, can be as gullible as anyone.  Do you purchase every rag sheet, tabloid, gaudy magazine, and newspaper that your gaze falls upon?  Or, do you simply note and absorb the blaring headline that, in a few words, engraves an impression into your consciousness?  You realize that analysis of the story line may actually say something different from that headline, but few of us have the will to read and analyze every bit of “news” that inundates us daily.  We are content to remember the “knee-jerk” stimulus and to secretly enjoy the “kick” we derived from it.

The good news is that, although gullible, we of the Great Unwashed are not overly stupid (even though, at any given moment, there are enough of us acting stupidly enough to imply an endemic class trait).  That means that all of us, from time to time, get to peek behind the stage curtain and get a glimpse of The Great and Powerful Oz,* and, by golly, realize that ol’ Oz is really just another one of us –The Great Unwashed — wearing the robes of deception…   ah, journalism…   I mean the robes of journalism.

Our “trusted” news sources are nothing more than fellow gullibles who got a paying job just like the rest of us.  Unlike the rest of us, they also got elevated to a higher plane of credibility, adopting the schtick of expert-in-everything (i.e., journalist).  As such, they drag with them the perception-skewing baggage of media-stressed common-knowledge they acquired when rubbing elbows with all of us lesser beings.  They just fatten up their own biases and make a buck out of it.  And, they call it “news.”

As the title of this article implies, my current axe to grind is the media staple of “big business’s gouging of government agencies for taxpayer money.”  I call it a media-perpetuated myth because of several reasons:

  • It takes two to tango
  • You get what you pay for
  • The paper trail
  • Caveat emptor

To perpetuate this myth and stir the media-purchasing public to…   well…   purchase…   media offerings, those realities are ignored by The Big Pee.  Instead, they go for a morality play wherein they decide who will be the villain and who will be the victim, while presenting themselves as the champion of what is right and good.  Basically, it is just yellow journalism and tabloid tactics to turn a buck…   and win some award, maybe.  But, mostly, it is just to make a buck.

Ignorance on the part of both the public and the writers is what gives this story line its perennial appeal.  The expert-in-everything journalist presents his story from the view of someone in the know, and the public (that be us) — freely confessing its ignorance on the matter — sits at the foot of the master, eagerly tossing coins into his tin cup.

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* The Big P

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Next up:  The Myth (Part 2)  The Office Depot gets skewered

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“The People Have A Right To Know”

Posted on May 4, 2012. Filed under: Constitution, Journalism, Piss Ants | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , |

In the movies, the justification given by our character of sleaze as to why he/she felt compelled to publish a personally harmful/embarrassing story (usually in the tabloid venue) with no societal relevance, is:  “The people have a right to know.”  I’ll have to take the movies’ lead on this since I have never had the opportunity to confront a gossip monger and demand to know why she/he felt compelled to print such harmful material.

But, rights are spelled out in the Constitution.  Nowhere did I see an open-ended clause saying, “The People have a right to know.”  It does say the People have a right to blab what they know, but, nowhere does it command that The People be informed of anything.  Do I really have to know that Councilman Big Shot had a bed-wetting problem when he was a child…  or NOW, for that matter?  In the pursuit of my alleged “right to know,” is it right for me or anyone else to snoop around in people’s private lives looking for embarrassing anecdotes?

Would The People also have a right NOT to know?  Oh…   yeah!  You just change the channel or don’t buy the offending publication.  But, the purveyors of sleaze (a.k.a., The Press) know what The People will buy, and the popularity and profitability of their product attest to that acuity.  People like to see others as less than themselves.  By golly, we just need someone to pick on.  It is especially satisfying to see persons from a higher moral, social, or economic plane get a little mud on their halos, evening gowns, and tax returns.  And, if we join others in the ridicule of some hapless (preferably defenseless) target, we have a common bond in the cowardly persecution of another…   we belong to something bigger than ourselves.  It isn’t right (read “moral”), but, it is legal.  And, it is an indigent part of the uglier side of human nature.

Pandering to humanity’s darker side does produce larger audiences (read “big bucks”).  Going native (cheap and petty) now and then seems to bring in the customers for even the “classier” media, possibly more so for broadcast than the legitimate press.  How much mileage did media of all kind get out of flaying the psyche of that young entertainer caught in the wallow of sudden fame?  Paparazzi, tabloids, entertainment media, main stream news media, all joining to publicly ridicule a lone soul derailed by the suddenness and scope of celebrity status.  Did you people get a real thrill out of beating up on a kid?

Her every move documented, her every misstep ridiculed.  Why, you even pretended to be concerned with the “Well, she’s in rehab…   again!  (Wink)  (Wink)”  news lead-in.  As a matter of speculation, how  much did negative and malicious press contribute to her troubles?

But, all of you (and , this includes the morning DJs who feel compelled to deliver a good-morning laugh at someone else’s expense, have sure as hell made it to my piss ant list.  Which list, under MY freedom of expression, I have the right to maintain.  And, I have no legal obligation to leave you OFF the list.  To restate your own mantra, “Pandering media has the right to know that they are piss ants.”

Next up:  Yellow journalism is alive and well

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