Quotes: Old Media Are Evil

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    film - live action 

If the headline is big enough, it makes the news big enough.

Peter Parker: Spider-Man wasn't trying to attack the city, he was trying to SAVE it! That's slander!
J. Jonah Jameson: It is not. I resent that. Slander is spoken. In print, it's libel.

The news is a sacred temple. And you are part of the cabal that's ruining with horseshit!
Craig Pomeroy, Morning Glory

Well, if you want to try and turn this into some anti-war protest, expect to hear your "Mountain of Conflict" soundbite everywhere: from ringtones to a fucking dance mix on YouTube. And I will marshal all the media forces of darkness to hound you to an assisted suicide. (no reply) Righto, let's just go and draft your "Dear Prime Minister, just a quick note to say thanks for giving me the sack" letter.
Malcolm Tucker, In the Loop

Television is not the truth. Television's a god-damned amusement park. Television is a circus, a carnival, a traveling troupe of acrobats, storytellers, dancers, singers, jugglers, sideshow freaks, lion tamers, and football players. We're in the boredom-killing business. So if you want the Truth, go to God! Go to your gurus. Go to yourselves! Because that's the only place you're ever gonna find any real truth. But, man, you're never gonna get any truth from us. We'll tell you anything you wanna hear. We lie like hell. We'll tell you that, uh, Kojak always gets the killer and that nobody ever gets cancer at Archie Bunker's house. And no matter how much trouble the hero is in, don't worry. Just look at your watch. At the end of the hour, he's gonna win. We'll tell you any shit you want to hear. We deal in illusions, man. None of it is true! But you people sit there day after day, night after night, all ages, colors, creeds. We're all you know. You're beginning to believe the illusions we're spinning here. You're beginning to think that the tube is reality and that your own lives are unreal! You do whatever the tube tells you! You dress like the tube! You eat like the tube! You raise your children like the tube! You even think like the tube! This is mass madness. You maniacs. In God's name, you people are the real thing! We are the illusion!
Howard Beale, Network

    live-action tv 

You know what a fake news show on Fox News should give you? Real news.

Joe Scarborough: He gives great advice. And listen, if he's got magic coffee beans, I want some of that.
John: You JUST SHOWED A REPORT THAT IMPLIED THEY DIDN'T WORK! You basically just did an Emperor's New Clothes piece and then ended it by saying, "btw, the emperor's tailor was incredible. That guy can stitch."

    music 

We talk and talk until my head explodes
I turn on the news and my body froze
The braying sheep on my TV screen
Make this boy shout, make this boy scream!
The Jam, "Going Underground"

I make my living off the evening news
Just give me something
Something I can use
People love it when you lose
They love dirty laundry
Well, I coulda been an actor, but I wound up here
I just have to look good, I don't have to be clear
Come and whisper in my ear
Give us dirty laundry
Kick 'em when they're up
Kick 'em when they're down
Kick 'em when they're up
Kick 'em when they're down
Don Henley, "Dirty Laundry"

    newspaper comics 

Oh greatest of the mass media, thank you for elevating emotion, reducing thought, and stifling imagination. Thank you for the artificiality of quick solutions and the insidious manipulation of human desires for commercial purposes. This bowl of lukewarm tapioca represents my brain. I offer it in humble sacrifice. Bestow thy flickering light forever.
Calvin, Calvin and Hobbes

    web original 

Cronkite?! Jesus, kid! Cronkite only covered the Watergate scandal to help sell burglar alarms to liberals!

Do we have a free press today? Sure. It's free to report all the sex scandals, all the stock market news, [and] every new health fad that comes down the pike. But when it comes to the real down and dirty stuff? Such stories are not even open for discussion.
Gary Webb

For more than a decade, NBC News anchor Brian Williams told a grand tale to his viewers, interviewers, and talk-show hosts about riding in an Army helicopter over occupied Baghdad in 2003 when it was struck and forced to land by a rocket-propelled grenade. Earlier this week, after the helicopter’s crew members told Stars & Stripes that Williams was in a completely different aircraft that was not struck by anything, he admitted his story was a complete fabrication. The anchor framed this particular fuck-up as anomalous, but a barrage of new reports suggest exactly the opposite: That even his apology is tainted with misinformation.

Anderson Cooper was in Ottawa last night to report on the horrific shootings at the National War Memorial and Parliament. He was not there to have a kiki and take selfies. Vandon Gene (which is now the scientific name for the douche gene), an aspiring journalist type for the Sun News Network, didn’t get that memo, I guess.
Michael K., "Don’t Ever Ask The Silver Fox To Take A Selfie At The Scene Of A Tragedy"

Of the major networks, CNN and MSNBC are slightly better, only because they at least try to hide their bullshit by occasionally inviting a person of color on their panels, and aren’t so cartoonish about peddling their propaganda. However, these networks all still court the same advertisers, and largely the same agenda where war is a force for peace, capitalism is king, and the poor are invisible.

Fox News just has more ads for gold, which makes some sense, we admit, since poor people can’t afford gold.
Jamie Kilstein and Allison Kilkenny, "The Day Jon Stewart Quit"

O’Reilly is the master of just saying whatever he wants to think is on track without any care whatsoever concerning its veracity. He is the stuff Fox News is made of, in other words. Take his infamous reporting, with Fox News’s own “crime analyst” Rod Wheeler on the “Lesbian rape gangs” in D.C.

I was at a conference just a couple of weeks ago, and one journalist asked a PR rep if he was allowed to write a story. Edward R. Murrow didn't just spin in his grave at that query; he catapulted out of it like a jack-in-the-box and started choking bitches.

The problem with most conspiracy theories about how the media works is that they assume power exerts itself overtly. The truth is that it doesn't have to. Journalists are rarely told by powerful or influential people not to cover certain stories; they usually simply decline to cover them out of a variety of motives, some nobler and some less so.
Tim Marchman, "Alleged Rapist Bill Cosby Bullies Reporter, Explains How Life Works"

Hey, you're Roger Goodell. You're an isolated, wealthy, powermad executive who will do anything to protect his authority and the sacred #BRAND to which he has been entrusted. Who do you go to to help give your asshole a thorough polishing for the American public? If you guessed the Wall Street Journal, congrats! You just won a two-week subscription to The Wall Street Journal (Retail price: $590).
Drew Magary, "The WSJ Is Here to Make Roger Goodell Even Wronger"

I went to the opening game against the Cardinals in 1999. One of the local television stations had a camera planted right by me, my best friend and my dad. The Eagles played great in the first half and the cameraman caught us screaming, cheering, and jumping up and down like 10 times. We raced home and set our VCR to tape the evening local news. It was a pretty exciting moment for me as an 11 year old.

It turns out the whole story was about the new drunk tank and the very honorable Judge Seamus McCaffery. It was soul crushing. The only clip they used was my dad cheering after a touchdown with the Voice of God ominously pointing out that 'WILD FANS…AND ALCOHOL…' cause bad shit happens or something. I don't even remember the rest of the quote but it has something to do with the drunk tank. Oh and we blew a 20 point lead in the second half to the Cardinals.

Krauthammer is an expert simplifier, summarizer, and close-quarters scrapper. His skill at producing zingers is enviable. But remarks are not literature, and zingers are not political wisdom.
Scott McLemee on Charles Krauthammer

I’m told reliably that America is grieving with me, and I wish they’d stop. Because if I hear one more person ask what’s wrong with the world I’m going to scream. What’s wrong with the world is that you’ve already started to forget. What’s wrong with the world is that we built a world where things like this happen and there’s a process to deal with them and then we all just move on. That we’ve developed an entire cultural apparatus to anesthetize the shock and horror of this so that we can move on to the next time it happens.
Dr. Phil Sandifer on the Aurora shooting spree

Anyway, when they're not urging their readers to talk to squirrels or torment their own murderers, they're filling their pages with the sort of extreme content normally associated with sicko websites aimed at snickering frat boys - grisly real-life murder stories, close-up photos of tumours and injuries, that kind of thing - the only real difference being that here the relentless horror is interspersed with heart-warming readers' letters in which Kids Say the Funniest Things. Somehow the juxtaposition only makes the nasty content seem worse.
Charlie Brooker on tabloid mags

Matt Johnson sees life as a movie where he’s the star-auteur, always performing, or thinking how to best frame himself for the imaginary audience, effectively treating the universe as a Matt Johnson Joint...Parlaying that modern disease into a self-aware school shooter, borrowing Catcher in the Rye from the school library 'cos it’ll be funny,' is a genius move, especially when any would-be maniac is fully aware — often, as a motive — that infamy awaits, with 24 hour news using body-counts like a high score, and where any actual docu-footage would be ghoulishly judged on the Dutch camera angles and soundtrack choices.
Stuart Millard on The Dirties

Murdoch is rightfully called an 'opinion maker', preferring to tell people what they like and don’t like, from so many angles that they actually start to believe it — that’s one of the benefits of owning everything under the Sun. Don’t expect anything his company owns to reflect the truth. They charge in a direction and wait for the people to follow.

Journalists are rarely medically trained and the common practice is pseudosymmetry: to present minority and contrarian positions as if they are equal to consensus views backed by an overwhelming preponderance of the evidence. This practice is defended as a matter of fairness, though it is probably more a matter of ignorance, laziness, or a desire to be popular by not offending the majority. After all, you never read of a journalist presenting the "other side" of gravity or feeling obligated to report on the accused child molester's point of view.

Safety concerns about the HPV vaccine Cervarix were raised after a girl died after being injected with the vaccine. The story was immediately jumped on by anti-vaccination groups and was widely reported in the general and scaremongering media. It was later determined that the death was due to an undiagnosed tumour, but the same media that cried out for "more research" into the incident preferred to bury this conclusion.

    web video 

That's why people care so much about what a sociopathic killer's favorite video game was or what their house and living situation was like: The people who actually tune into this news coverage or buy these tabloids turn killers into celebrities. What fucks it all up is that these reports turn homicide into an accomplishment, and after all these spree killings, you see other killers pop up and follow the example! That's exactly what happened after Newtown.

A couple years ago, there was a story about killer foxes in London. Here's a photo: 'This fox attacked a man who was carrying his shopping bags home from the supermarket!' The fox attacked him for a period of (allegedly) fifteen minutes after which it got away a loaf of garlic bread! Foxes are well-known predators of the garlic bread. And this kinda stuff was really big at the time; there were various hoaxes around, there were all sorts of stories that were almost entirely bullshit. But this had a real impact on people.

On Monday, I have to bury my grandad. Now, a couple of years ago, we went to his house as he was in his declining years. We went there in the summer, and all of the windows were bolted shut, and the house was absolutely boiling hot. And we said, 'Grandad, why don't you have the windows open?! We're boiling in here.' And he didn't want to, because he was afraid that the foxes would get in and attack him.
Martin Robbins, "Why the Daily Mail is Evil"

    real life 

No wonder that people are becoming passive sponges — absorbing but never creating. Did you know that the average viewing time per person is now three hours a day? Soon people won't be living their own lives any more.
Arthur C. Clarke, Childhoods End (1953). (As of 2007, the average American watches 2.6 hours of television per day.)

Is it because journalists, as a class, are habitual liars, and prefer what is not true to what is true? I don't think it is. Rather, it is because journalists are, in the main, extremely stupid, sentimental and credulous fellows — because nothing is easier than to fool them — because the majority of them lack the sharp intelligence that the proper discharge of their duties demands.
H. L. Mencken, Prejudices: A Selection

1. Any theory is valid if it sells books, soaks up ratings or otherwise moves units.
2. Anything can be true if someone says it loudly enough.
3. Fact is that which enough people believe. Truth is determined by how fervently they believe it.
Charles Pierce, Idiot America: How Stupidity Became a Virtue in the Land of the Free

Nowdays, If a news report does not tie up loose ends as neatly as The A-Team, it is considered a flop.
Richard Nixon, In The Arena

I seldom watch television. But when I do set out to twirl the dial, it is usually on Sunday, when our corporate rulers address us from their cathode pulpit. Seedy Washington journalists, sharp-eyed government officials who could not dispose of a brand-new car in Spokane, think-tank employees, etiolated from too long residence 'neath flat rocks, and always, always Henry Kissinger, whose destruction of so many Asians and their once-charming real estate won him a prize for peace from the ironists of northern Europe. The level of the chat on these programmes is about as low as it is possible to get without actually serving the viewers gin.
Gore Vidal, "Cue the Green God, Ted"

People will live in a condition of splendid physical isolation. Television — that is, the ability to see your best friend over a distance of many miles — and wireless telephony will lead to this condition. There will be less desire in those days for close physical communication. That desire is a relic of barbarism.
— Futurist A.M. Lowe, writing about the future in 1920. Inverted because he seemed to see this as a good thing.

I do not distrust their motives; I distrust their power. They have a lot of it. And it is an astonishing power: that of creating whole universes, universes of the mind. I ought to know. I do the same thing.

The TV business is uglier than most things. It is normally perceived as some kind of cruel and shallow money trench through the heart of the journalism industry, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free and good men die like dogs, for no good reason.
Hunter S. Thompson, Generation of Swine: Tales of Shame and Degradation in the '80's

By the time you’ve made it to Bureau Chief, or Editor, or you’ve become a bigshot at CBS or something, the chances are that you’ve just got all this stuff in your bones – you’ve internalized the values that make it clear to you that there are certain things you just don’t say, and in fact, you don’t even think them anymore...If you're a young journalist and you're pursuing stories that people at the managerial level know, either intuitively or explicitly, are not to be pursued, you can be sent off to work at the police desk, and advised that you don't have 'proper standards or objectivity.'
Noam Chomsky, Understanding Power

The dumbing down of America is most evident in the slow decay of substantive content in the enormously influential media, the 30 second sound bites (now down to 10 seconds or less), lowest common denominator programming, credulous presentations on pseudoscience and superstition, but especially a kind of celebration of ignorance.
Carl Sagan, The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark