TV as “weapon of mass distraction”

“Like blackbirds in flight,
packs of reporters darken
the sky, moving in swarms at
the same speed and in
predictable trajectory. When
one lands, they all land.
When one leaves, they all
leave. The programmers and
channel controllers from all
the stations are part of
the same well–paid elite,
steeped in the same values,
committed to the mission of
maximizing audience share and
profits. They are chosen for
their ability to play the game
and not challenge the audience
with too many controversial
ideas or critical perspectives.
It’s no surprise that they
circulate easily within the
commanding heights of media
power, moving from company to
company and job to job. A kind
of group think corporate
consensus, steeped in market
logic and deeply inbred by an
un–brave news culture, breeds
conscience–free conformity and
self–censorship. This makes
frightening sense in a globalized
economy where consumerism is more
desired than active citizenship,
where power is increasingly
concentrated and the public is
increasingly unwelcome in a
public discourse defined by
the powerful. If your goal is
to numb people and drive them
away from active participation,
then TV as “weapon of mass
and wall to wall
entertainment makes sense.
Shut up and shop is the now
the message, one that makes
sense to advertiser dominated
media outlets… ”
— Danny Schechter,
Dung on all their Houses,
Toward Freedom magazine,
December / January 2000


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