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"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
"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
"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
"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
"The fact that television personalities so notoriously took precedence over the politicians at Miami Beach was noted with sour wonder by journalists who have begun to fear that their rendering of events into lines of linear type may prove to be as irrelevant an exercise as turning contemporary literature into Greek. The fact that in a hotel lobby it was Eric Severeid not John Tower who collected a crowd was thought to be a sign of the essential light-mindedness of the electorate. Yet Severeid belongs to the country in a way few politicians ever do. Only Ronald Reagan among the politicians at Miami exerted the same spell, and for the same reason: he is a bona fide star of the Late Show, equally ubiquitous, equally mythic."
—Gore Vidal, "The Twenty-Ninth Republican Convention"
"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.
"Because today we live in a society in which spurious realities are manufactured by the media, by governments, by big corporations, by religious groups, political groups... So I ask, in my writing, What is real? Because unceasingly we are bombarded with pseudo-realities manufactured by very sophisticated people using very sophisticated electronic mechanisms. 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."
ďThe 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.Ē
—Hunter S. Thompson, Generation of Swine: Tales of Shame and Degradation in the '80's
"By the time youíve made it to Bureau Chief, or Editor, or youíve become a bigshot at CBS or something, the chances are that youíve just got all this stuff in your bones Ė youíve internalized the values that make it clear to you that there are certain things you just donít say, and in fact, you donít 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.Ē
—Carl Sagan, The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark
"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, didnít get that memo, I guess... When Anderson Cooper spanks you verbally in the ears, you shut your mouth and make a vow to never wash out your ear holes again because theyíve been slapped by the voice of The Silver Fox. Vandon didnít shut his mouth. Instead he uploaded the video of The Silver Fox telling him off and then tweet whined about it.
Vandon tweeted (and later deleted) a tantrum stream of whiny tweets where he said that Anderson is an ass for 'exploiting' the Ottawa tragedy and canít believe The Silver Fox would criticize someone for asking for a photo. The Silver Fox sharpened his nails and scratched back on Twitter. Vandon tweeted out an apology, but it was too late. The damage was already done. Or was it, because he obviously got all the attention he wanted."
—DListed, "Donít 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 arenít 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 canít afford gold."
—Jamie Kilstein and Allison Kilkenny, "The Day Jon Stewart Quit"
"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."
"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 FANSÖAND ALCOHOLÖ' 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."
"This is what happens when you make every single decision based upon public perception: The image of you becomes the focal point, and not the person therein. When Peter King issued his weird mea culpa for his lax reporting on the [Ray] Rice scandal, he phrased it just like a press release. See for yourself. That's the kind of public statement a celebrity issues after saying something racist. It's certainly not any kind of formal reporting. Is Peter King even a reporter? Or is he just a quasi-famous coffee enthusiast and PR dumpster? I can't tell. I can't tell much of anything anymore because every sports league and every TV network and every new album release is strategized to within an inch of its life."
—Drew Macgary, "Everything is Public Relations Now"
"For the tragic waste of Krauthammer's considerable talents represented by Things That Matter, a good deal of the blame should doubtless go to the bad habits fostered by op-ed writing and talk-show commenting. 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. You can't surprise yourself, breathe deeply, get to the bottom of things in 800 words or 20 seconds."
—Scott McLemee on Charles Krauthammer
"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!"
"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 heís 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 itíll be funny,' is a genius move, especially when any would-be maniac is fully aware ó often, as a motive ó 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
"IGN claims to represent gamers and they have the numbers to prove it, but they belong to Fox Interactive Media, Inc., which is a subsidiary of none other than News Corporation ó Rupert Murdochís sleazy media empire. That means in reality, IGN represents Murdochís vision of how gamers should think...Murdoch is rightfully called an 'opinion maker', preferring to tell people what they like and donít like, from so many angles that they actually start to believe it ó thatís one of the benefits of owning everything under the Sun. Donít expect anything his company owns to reflect the truth. They charge in a direction and wait for the people to follow."
"A lot of people say to me, 'Martin, why are you so angry at the Daily Mail?' There's also a kind of personal element to it, as well: 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. And it's an easy thing to laugh at, and at the time, we did. But this is kinda what the Daily Mail does. And thing is, my grandad was an incredibly intelligent person...But the thing about the Daily Mail, and the thing about this kind of journalism, it doesn't matter how well inoculated against it you think you are; doesn't matter if you think you're the sort of person that adverts dont't get to; it doesn't matter if you don't think you're persuaded by this. This stuff is like mercury in fish; it kinda drips, drips, drips day after day, and it eventually starts to to infest people and give them a disturbed view of the world. And for vulnerable people, for elderly people, for people who don't ordinarily leave the house very often, papers like the Daily Mail are the only window they have on the world."
—Martin Robbins, "Why the Daily Mail is Evil"