Is America a nation of sheep?
He wrote a book about the concept that America is now a country full of people who blindly follow the status quo. But is that true? And if it is, then why?
“So this is how liberty dies? With thunderous applause?”
The American public right now seems fully absorbed into the TV media’s version of public opinion, political polling and politicians as if there were really no other choices. It’s not uncommon to hear people parroting MSM talking points, polls and soundbites cut directly from air that are repeated over and over throughout the day in a networks lineup. But do people consider how those polls are conducted, or who was interviewed and how?
A major problem with polling is the obvious question of “What do you care what other people think?”. If a majority of people thought that we should be vegetarian, should we ban meat? Of course not. But let’s say you were presented with a poll from the American Veggie Council. They showed that 76% of people want to ban meat. Does that make it good? And where did they get this poll, at their membership gathering? Progressive blogs such as Think Progress and Media Matters do this constantly. They run heavily biased polls and information slanted to alter public opinion on a topic. It’s a common tactic to make the public think they have no other choices and then they arrive at your predetermined destination. That’s the dialectic.
Now look at it from an electoral standpoint: What if you are offered a progressive Republican candidate at the ballot box vs. a progressive Democrat? What are you going to get in either case? A progressive! Such was the case in the 2012 Presidential election.
I’ve spoken before about how the television media narrows our choices by putting us into pre-arranged viewpoints. Anchors, reporters, correspondent and producers can have an enormous amount of power over the national discussion. Regular reporting mixed with opinion news can be a successful formula for controlling the debate.
FreedomWatch was extremely effective in helping craft the narrative of the 2012 election. As an opinion show, and with Judge Napolitano having full creative control, we were able to get away with hugely controversial segments because we flew the Fox Business banner right underneath our incendiary reporting & groundbreaking analysis. FreedomWatch created huge controversies by defying the stereotypical reporting being done on most major news networks. There was no celebrity gossip and no pandering to interest groups. We hit hard on all the major issues of government abuse and Capitol Hill was scared. Because of our show, Representative Louie Gohmert (R-TX) was said to have remarked that the Judge’s reporting was putting a lot of backbone into members of the House of Representatives on the Hill. Apparently our incessant banging of the drums of war over the debt ceiling increase had been effective in keeping the Tea Party Republicans emboldened and the GOP Leadership on the defense. That’s how powerful television reporting can be. And it can be used for good, or evil. It can make us a nation of sheep, or it can make us a stronger and more informed public.
So do they force their opinions on us?
Some do, such as NPR or shows like Sesame Street when they receive public funds. But the answer really is no. The American public gets the media it gets because it gets the media it asks for. A free market in media is serving the desires of the public. People are choosing to watch these television shows and their advertising dollars reflect that. Car manufacturers, restaurants and furniture stores are all in the market for audiences to view their wares and they buy ads on TV because they are effective. The American people are supporting all of this with their cable dollars and viewership. If a network didn’t get the ratings, it would lose advertising and their profits would collapse. The power of the buying public is greater than any corporation.
Still, when it comes to television outlets today, there is a measure of free choice. Larger networks thrive because they have high ratings. The existence of those non state-run networks are dependent on how well they serve their customer. If people didn’t like Fox News, then can turn off Fox News. The rise and fall of any privately owned media corporation will be dependent on their ability to meet their advertisers and viewers needs. The freedom of switching the channel will be the determinant over who lives and dies in their sector of the market.
A Youtube video that gets millions of hits is indicating the very real preferences of a population that can choose from nearly infinite other options. You can choose to watch a video about whatever you want, news, sports, or any other topic. It’s the same way with TV, but also very different. With Television, other then with DVR’s, you can’t pause it. You can’t skip commercials and you don’t really have a choice what topics a network will pick to discuss as the hottest news item of the day. The Internet is superior in that you can get what you want, when you want it, how you want it. Frequently at Fox, Internet traffic would be used to determine what topics we might cover. It’s because word travels faster on the ‘Net than it can make it to air. If I as a producer knew a segment would rate, why wouldn’t I produce something related to that topic? So why even turn on the TV?
Although television may have been the historic arbiter in who was declared a legitimate candidate in the past, those days are changing. A historic moment has occurred recently when the Internet surpassed newspapers and radio in terms of reach. Television is still waiting to be caught up to however. But that will happen. When it does the attitude and mindset of the public is likely to go with it. Whatever control that mainstream cable networks currently enjoy, it’s not likely to last forever. And as costs of production for high quality newscasts continuously plummet there will be less and less incentive to pay for cable TV as well as cable Internet. News producers can build their own audiences and market directly to their customers instead of going to work for a network where their views could be suppressed or ideas twisted or stolen.
The demise of the mainstream media is apparent in stories such as these (VIDEO) where independent journalist Michelle Fields is attacked by Morley Safer for her defense of citizen reporting. Safer snapped, “good journalism and good reporting must work within the constraints of great editing.” What he really means is that he thinks that reporters need a filter or a censor.
I don’t think so Mr. Safer.
Many young people today (including myself) are already on Internet-only systems and getting our media from social media rather than television. Developments such as these are what give me hope that people are going to get online, see the truth and begin to wake up to the real threats to their liberties. I feel very optimistic that as the Internet becomes the prime source for news that people will find the ideas of liberty and restore them once again. My confidence is based on the assumption that as the Internet gets plugged directly into TV sets, more people will choose to watch “unofficial” reporting and programming. More people will get the media we deserve because soon there won’t be any filters or censors on what Americans hear, read or think. That will be a great day for America.
The sheep will become the wolves.
I’m reminded of this speech from the character Howard Beale in the famous film Network. In an epic rant, Beale expresses how much power the television news holds. His character laments the dumbing down of the people and details how the TV networks dumb people now. Isn’t it interesting how the power of the networks is fading from when they used to have so much more control? People like to blame the mainstream media for bad politics, but today they have much less influence than they had in 1976 America.
Video of Howard Beale’s speech below
“Less than 3% of you people read books. Less than 15% of you read newspapers. The only truth you have you only get over this tube. Right now there is a whole, an entire generation that never knew anything that didn’t come out of this tube. This tube is the gospel, the ultimate revelation. This tube can make or break popes, presidents or prime ministers, this tube is the most awesome… force in the whole godless world. And woe is us if it ever falls into the hands of the wrong people.” -Howard Beale
Video clip from Network – 1978