Since the Job of News is to Sell Beer and Shampoo

…it functions the way dog food commercials function. Did you ever notice that dog food looks, you know, rather appetizing on dog food commercials? That’s because dogs don’t buy dog food. People buy dog food. So you pitch the content to the people, not the dogs.

In the same way, our manufacturers of information pitch their “news” to the obsessions of their viewers, not to actually telling us what’s going on. So, for instance, in our post-Christian, sex-obsessed culture, you find that NBC is spending 13X more coverage on Russian anti-gay legislation than on attacks on Syrian Christians. Why? Because the denizens of 30 Rock and their peer group are obsessed with sexual libertinism and could not care less about about a bunch of Syrian Christians getting slaughtered. And they don’t see why you would care either. So the decision is made for us as to what constitutes “news”. Sex is appetitizing. Death, not so much (unless they can get some cool footage of people being killed). But that would require NBC journos being in harm’s way and about the biggest hardship they want to deal with is a hotel in Russia. It’s the same reason we heard so much more about Bosnia (conveniently located near comfy digs in Rome and other European tourist locales) and not so much about Rwanda or Somalia.

When our manufacturers of information fake their “concern” about injustice, they prefer it be something that will not cost them anything. This is another example of our Chattering Class bravely facing the applause of their peers.

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  • AquinasMan

    Outstanding post.

  • Mike

    Where were all the reports on the re-education camps, slave labor camps, forced abortions, sterilizations and political murders by the State when the Olympics were in China in 2008? I don’t recall seeing even one “expose” by a major network.

    Incidentally, how many will we see when I think it’s the UAE hosts the World Cup in 2022? While I disagree with the law because it criminalizes free speech I think it is perfectly natural for a State to place limits on “public” expressions of ALL sexual habits. That would go for swingers clubs, strip clubs S&M clubs whatever as well.

  • thisismattwade

    This post is spot on and I don’t mean to make light of it, but “This is another example of our Chattering Class bravely facing the applause of their peers.” is just sadly funny.

    It’s turns of phrase like that that keep me coming back to this blog, among other things.

  • tteague

    I think you nailed it. When we think of news, we tend to think of a free press. But as A. J. Liebling famously said, “Freedom of the press is guaranteed only to those who own one.” And these days the mainstream presses (practically a euphemism for all news, since newspapers are dying) are owned by multinational corporations who live out their capitalist, free-market driven worldviews in everything they do, pandering more to popular tastes than to the pursuit of truth, goodness, and beauty. Which also implicates the society that provides those tastes and guarantees the mainstream presses’ continued existence. It’s been this way for a long time. News is entertainment. As Liebling also said, “People everywhere confuse what they read in newspapers with news.” But it’s truer with each passing year.

  • Dave G.

    I’m not sure it’s the only reason we do or don’t hear about certain things, but it’s probably a major reason. Just like Bosnia. I’ve always felt there was more to it than convenience sake.

  • SteveP

    NBC is telling us that being unable to propagandize minors is more unjust than being murdered. This is beyond strange. I am dumbfounded.

  • Elmwood

    the media and Hollywood seem to have a penchant for buggery.

  • kenofken

    The difference between Russia and Syria is that the former, like all Olympic venues, is holding itself up as a world-class member of the family of nations. Syria….well, no one even considers Syria to be a viable nation anymore and it never had any real pretensions to being a great place to live or do commerce. In hosting the Olympics, Russia put itself under the microscope and the spotlight. Hosting an Olympics is an invitation to the whole world: “Come see the real us.”

    The media, lured by the enormous viewership and sponsorships the games provide, are taking that invitation to heart. Russia has aspirations to be seen as a modern European state, or at least every bit the equal of them. That spotlight tells a complex story, and a not altogether flattering one. We see Russia as a nation in athletic, cultural and scientific tradition. They are some of the most technologically adept people in human civilization, and certainly among the most resilient.

    But we also see that some aspects of their society just suck – the corruption and authoritarianism, a naked contempt for norms of human rights and rule of law. Their LGBT laws are the embodiment of those atavistic and ugly currents of thought within today’s Russia. They serve no legitimate public purpose. They were created solely to pander to a hate movement and to craft more grounds for arbitrary arrest and imprisonment in a system already rife with abuse of power.

    Before dismissing Russia’s situation as being incomparable to the Syrian situation, consider that the conditions enabling slaughter of Christians (and everyone else) in Syria are rooted in the same police state governance as that of Russia. While we’re on the subject, let’s remember that Russia, who we hate only for their traditional sexual values, hols primary responsibility for enabling and prolonging the slaughter within Syria. They, not the 30 Rockers, have lavishly armed and funded Assad’s campaign of murder against his own people, which in turn has destabilized the country and selected for the most radical and murderous insurgents.

    As to the media “not caring” enough about Syria to report it on an Olympic scale, that’s a reflection on us as much as them. Americans aren’t going to watch a Middle Eastern civil war day in and day out. We can blame that on the media, or cold hearts or ambivalence toward Christians, but we can’t get invested in Syria because we have no answers at all for it. We can object to the killing, strenuously object, fund the rebels killing the Christians, or go to war, all of which will ultimately amount to nothing.

    • Joseph

      I’d agree with you… if anyone cared about the Olympics anymore…

    • SteveP

      Yeah, not being able to propagandize minors is really “the embodiment of those atavistic and ugly currents of thought within today’s Russia.”

      • kenofken

        Do you even know what “propagandizing the youth” means? No, you don’t, because no Russian lawyer really knows what it means either. It’s a catch-all law which enables arbitrary detention for being openly gay. It will be used just often enough to terrorize gays and to keep them from advocating for themselves. It will also be used to throw away a lot of people for things that have nothing to do with their sexuality. Activists who get a little too pushy about corruption or environmental issues, opposition politicians etc. who happen to be gay (or the subject of a rumor), will go to jail for “corrupting minors.”

        There is, as I’ve said, absolutely no public safety interest being served. No one outside of perhaps the Phelps gang, seriously believes that anyone is “recruited” into a sexual orientation anymore. It’s about reserving special powers to lock up a disfavored class of people at will. If Putin can do that to gays, he can do it to Christians as well, and he would in a heartbeat if it served his political ends.

        • SteveP

          Ah, we have a Russian lawyer among us or perhaps a commissar. Ugly is your pretend valuation of “diversity”
          as long others think and do precisely what you tell them.

          Squealer – don’t forget your donation.

        • Imrahil

          >>It’s a catch-all law which enables arbitrary detention for being openly gay.

          Which means it does *not* catch silently giving in to the temptation with another one already gay.

          Nor to say upon being questioned, “It is true that I’m gay and act upon it, and that’s the last thing I’ll say about the matter”.

          Nor being a subject of a rumor.

          “coming-out” – and I don’t say that on specifically Christian or natural-law grounds, it is but what the homosexuals say themselves – is meant in explicit intention as propagandistic. But let’s see how Russian courts will judge.

          >>No one […] seriously believes that anyone is “recruited” into a sexual orientation anymore.

          Let’s assume that by hypothesis, but what about acting upon said intention? Doesn’t the law seem to set a barrier, not (by our hypothesis) on having a same-sex attraction, but very much so on acting upon it?

  • Elaine S.

    “dogs don’t buy dog food, people buy dog food”

    That’s also the reason why you will never see commercials for mouse-flavored cat food even though THAT would be much tastier to a cat than tuna or chicken.

    • LSpinelli

      Or chipmunk flavored. My (late) big gray boy swallowed one whole once.