Manipulating the Discernment of the People

I can see a shamelessly biased cable news network from my house.

Yesterday, a man named Wolf fact-checked a Saturday Night Live sketch showing a white actor in blackface portraying–poorly, at that–the president of the United States running down a list of his non-accomplishments, proving that people like myself who correctly viewed the skit as a bona-fide turning point in the way our president is perceived were right on target in doing so.

It also showed that CNN is completely unconcerned with losing what remains of its credibility. What’s next, a six-hour expose investigating whether Lady Ga-Ga is really a lady? I’d love to see Anderson Cooper in that interview.

Anyway, there was once a time when it was the folks at Saturday Night Live were “just being funny,” and that politicians who found themselves in their crosshairs should laugh along at what was just mere performance art. It was an honor to be satirized, people would say, pointing toward Dana Carvey’s impression of George H.W. Bush, the late Phil Hartman’s skirt- and cheeseburger-chasing Bill Clinton, or Chevy Chase’s over-the-top impersonation of an endlessly clumsy Gerald Ford.

But in recent years, SNL’s handiwork has worked its way into mainstream politics. George W. Bush never said “strategery” in his debate against Al Gore in 2000, yet the word has become attributed more to him than to Will Farrell, who delivered the line in the first place. And it was SNL’s Tina Fey and not Sarah Palin who said that she could see Russia from her house, yet according to a Zogby poll released two weeks after last year’s presidential election, 87 percent of voters polls stated that they believed the words to have come from the former vice presidential candidate’s mouth, not Fey’s. There’s even a refrigerator magnet for sale on Amazon.com showing Palin holding an AR-15 with the words “I can see Russia from my house” superimposed above her.

Where was CNN in terms of fact-checking those comedy sketches?

Furthermore, where was CNN in terms of fact-checking President Barack Obama’s health care speech to a joint session of Congress last month? This was actual policymaking, something that would affect hundreds of millions of Americans, as well as one-sixth of our economy. And it was a speech riddled with misrepresentations, omissions and just plain untruths, many of which would be admitted later in one form or another by the administration. Yet no such effort was made. Instead, the network lamented that Obama’s health care message was hard to control due to the Internet as a news delivery device, and parroted White House talking points in an attempt to fact-check the questions being asked by town hall meeting attendees.

The question I often hear from a number of people via e-mail and in everyday conversation is why. Why doesn’t the mainstream press report the truth? Is it out of love for President Obama, or is it deeper than that? Do they even know they’re biased?

As many of you know, my light bulb illuminated after I read, in a matter of only a few hours, Bernard Goldberg’s phenomenal book, Bias. It was from that point forward that I started to sort through the agenda-setting media, clearing the way for my Fosburian leap righward. Now, Goldberg is fond of saying that so-called journalists in newsrooms and television studios across the country don’t hold conference calls each and every day in order to ask how they can be biased that day. The bias, in other words, runs much deeper than a mere hope to foment support for a certain political agenda. It goes much further than any love for President Obama, as the media leaned far left long before the president burst upon the scene in the 2004 Democratic National Convention. In fact, I’d venture to say that the bias and overall refusal to discuss the truth unless it supports their own agenda is almost instinctual.

Consider, for the sake of explanation, the words written by Thomas Jefferson in an 1820 letter to W.C. Jarvis:

I know of no safe depository of the ultimate powers of the society but the people themselves; and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them, but to inform their discretion by education. This is the true corrective of abuses of constitutional power.

This was a favorite topic of Jefferson in the later years of his life. He spoke often of how the people’s minds “must be improved to a certain degree,” and how “when moderately instructed” the people were the only safe and honest “depositories of the public rights.” And Jefferson was right — the only way to truly correct the government’s abuses of constitutional power is through a responsibly educated masses.

Members of the liberal elite press, like our liberal elite president, believe that the United States Constitution is a document of negative rights. In a way, it is, but not as they suggest. Liberals like Wolf Blitzer and Barack Obama believe that the Constitution’s biggest flaw is that it puts limits on what the people can get from the federal government. In reality, however, the United States Constitution is a limiting document in the sense that it provides a limit upon what the government can do to the people. Our founders were working to preserve liberty, to protect against a government that would descend into totalitarianism. The absolute miracle which is our Constitution is the direct result of that work.

In order to advance the liberal and progressive agenda, therefore, the Constitution must be treated like a speed bump — worthy of relatively careful negotiation, but certainly surmountable. At that point, the left’s biggest obstacle proves to be the American people, more specifically an educated American populace which understands why this nation is so different and so special, which sees the ideas and ideals of our founders being trampled upon. By controlling the means of such an education, therefore, the media is essentially doing its level best to ensure that the people never have the chance to be that “safe depository” of the ultimate powers of the society.

That’s why Saturday Night Live’s opening sketch, so damningly critical of President Obama, became so much of a threat to outlets like CNN as to deserve direct confrontation. Any honest assessment, even if it does come in a comedy sketch from an white actor in blackface, serves to inform the people’s discretion, and only makes the left’s contraconstitutional agenda more difficult to push. Discretion through education, remember, is the only true corrective of abuses of constitutional power.

Again, in Jefferson’s words, these from 1816:

If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be. The functionaries of every government have propensities to command at will the liberty and property of their constituents. There is no safe deposit for these but with the people themselves; nor can they be safe with them without information. Where the press is free, and every man able to read, all is safe.

Substitute “fair” for “free” in the last sentence, and I’d agree 100 percent.

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Comments

  1. Gail B says:

    Well, now that SNL has taken up serious politics, I'd say that Thomas Jefferson would be pleased AND laughing.

    Neal Boortz was talking yesterday about how people at the sports center in Atlanta know all the stats of different players, their personal history, and so on, but know NOTHING about what's really IMPORTANT: What's going on in Washington, D.C.

    So, if SNL can spoon-feed the reality of governmental overreach, etc., to entertainment-oriented Americans, then it's a good thing, any way you look at it.

    I'd say the White House didn't appreciate the skit, as there was no comment from Gibbers or The One.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Don't you find it interesting that the "fact checker" never really showed that the SNL sketch was wrong. Instead they nuance the facts to say that its not quite what the SNL sketch portrayed. More telling though was the comment that SNL is a "powerful force" in American politics. That's scary.

    And finally, you have to notice that the media did nothing to correct the public perception of what Sarah Palin actually said and words attributed to her that were actually from Tina Fey…if anything, they fostered it. Now, the first SNL sketch critical of OBama comes along and they trying to head it off at the pass.

    THe good news is that CNN ratings have been dropping, so no one other than the true believers are watching anyway.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Like their inability to cross the aisle in Congress on health care reform their sense of humor is also one-sided. They are like the guy who can tell a million jokes, but can't stand to be the butt of one.

    Disecting a parody for truth hints at a very serious mind, yet a very narrow one. They are the kind of people who would strain a gnat yet swallow a camel. It's not a wonder they can't come up with a better health care reform package, yet also continually reject Republican contributions to the effort.

  4. Ian Thorpe says:

    May I volunteer to carry out the shower test on Lady Ga Ga?

  5. whats_up says:

    There is no doubt that governments by nature are repressive. The debate comes over how represive we are willing to let our governemnt become. So will favor more others less. That is the strength of the American system.

  6. Michele says:

    I'm almost willing to bet there is an agenda behind the skit. I do not trust NBC at all. There's no way they would take down the anointed one w/o some approval, unless it is a warning from the left to get some things done. It was still funny.

    Someone blogged the other day and called ole Barry, "Dingle Barry". I do not know why that struck me so funny. Now that is my nickname for him. I cannot bring myself to call him President.

  7. ANOTHER EXAMPLE OF INEXPERIENCE says:

    5-year-old wrecks truck in neighbor's backyard

    Child reportedly has driven truck before

    By TAVIA D. GREEN • GANNETT TENNESSEE • October 6, 2009

    A 41-year-old woman in the 200 block of Mark Spitz Drive reported Saturday a 5-year-old boy wrecked his father's truck in her back yard.

    At about 6:50 p.m., the woman came home and discovered the damage from her neighbor's truck, according to the Clarksville Police report filed by Officer Justin Doolittle.

    The truck dropped off a 4-foot brick retaining wall, damaging 11 bricks, and landed on a propane grill, destroying it, the report said.

    Another neighbor said the child also drove the truck into his yard, leaving deep tire tracks.

    The child was not injured.

    This was not his first time the child had driven the truck, the report said.

  8. Anonymous says:

    The word "fair" is NOT in their vocabulary. Wonderful post Jeff, ty for your tireless work. By the way, did all of you receive your white coats?…LOL…

    http://www.nypost.com/p/news/national/white_house_botched_op_kTVWHZ3vEeRQbxCC0TNZHN

    Sally

  9. Gail B says:

    Ian, I had your brain pegged a bit farther "north!" Shoulda known, though, since you're a guy!

  10. Rix says:

    The power of the 'lame-stream media" to manipulate the masses should never be underestimated. Do not forget that, in absence of alternative presented by FoxNews, they would still have full public trust because Internet blogs, by themselves, carry very little "street cred". Rupert Murdock is, after all, just a businessman moved by pure profit rather than ideology – and it is oh so tantalizingly easy for Obama's minions to kick FoxNews out of the cablespace under some fabricated fake-outrage pretext that I practically expect it to happen in 2010.

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