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Olds

When I watch or read what purports to be “the news” I believe I’m justified in the expectation that the information I’m receiving is in fact new or, at the very least, accurate.
Recently, a friend of mine had a change of heart about her religious affiliation (guess who.) She spoke earnestly of the growing conflict she felt between her faith and the church. It was a part of a discussion she was having on her Facebook fan page. Because she is who she is, her Facebook conversation became international news.
She was very generous about it. She gave interviews to network and cable television, NPR, newspapers, magazines, who knows what all.
Every interviewer asked her if she had parted company with the church because her son is gay. She said no. She said that she had been a supporter of gay rights, long before her son was born or out. She said she thought the church’s persecution of gay people was evil. Further, she talked about a whole host of reasons for her decision of which the church’s medieval persecution of gay people was only one a part.
Still, in story after story it was reported that Anne Rice left the church because her son Christopher is gay. They also often added that Christopher was a gay rights activist. He’s my best friend. I can tell you that while he does advocate equal rights for gay people, he is in fact a novelist.
She told everyone who asked that Christopher’s sexuality was not the reason for her decision. It made no difference. The “olds” media — for I no longer think it qualifies as “news” media – told the story they wanted to tell. It wasn’t true, it wasn’t accurate and, hence, it was not news. It was just the story they wanted to tell. It was Olds.
It’s midterms this year and the “olds” media has decided that they are going to tell the story of how the angry American voter is throwing incumbents out of office. It’s not true. So far, only 7 of over 300 incumbents up for re-election have been voted out. But they just keep saying we’re angry and voting the bastards out.
I am angry. But I’m angry because obstructionist Congress people and Senators are playing politics in a time of dire national crisis. It has nothing to do with incumbency. It has to do with inaction.
The “olds” media doesn’t care what I think. They don’t care what our votes indicate. There is no real effort being made to report on what isn’t happening and how upset we are about obstructionist politics. The “olds” media wants to show the right wingnut fringe with teabags hanging from their hats and report on the left wing drowning in disarray and ennui.
But to the people getting stuff done or the stuff they’re doing, why bother?
There’s some actual real problems that we need help with but why report on that when there’s some nuts freaking out about a religious community center being built in a depressed neighborhood in south Manhattan? And I mean the nuts on both sides.
The Fox olds network is so caught up in this not-a-story that they are now calling one of their own principal stockholders a terrorist for helping fund the project.
There are places and groups in the country with 20% unemployment. People are dying for want of healthcare. We STILL have not repaired New Orleans five years after Katrina. The Gulf of Mexico is flamable. This community center is simply not news.
But the lack of news doesn’t stop the “olds” media.
When they find a story they like, they just keep telling it until we believe it’s true. That just doesn’t sound like news to me. But it does sound familiar.
First, you create a problem that may or may not exist. Then you begin telling people about the problem until they believe it is a problem. Finally, you come up with a story that explains the problem and you tell it over and over again, until people believe that story.
It’s called advertising.
We have become conditioned to learn in a very specific way. It’s actually quite sophisticated. It requires years of media saturation and a whole belief structure built on this problem solution model.
It works like this. Bad breath prevents people from hooking up. Use this potion, tablet, strip, gum, whatever to fix your breath and get laid. Sales of said potion/tablet/strip go through the roof. Ergo, everyone’s getting laid right?
No.
Why? Because the story “Bad breath prevents you from getting any” isn’t true. Do a random breath check of those leaving the bars in pairs and see for yourself. Or better yet imagine, this: There he is. He’s dreamy. She’s just your type. He’s smiling. She tosses her hair flirtatiously. He’s coming this way. It’s late and it’s been a while. He offers you a drink. But oh no, he had garlic for dinner, so never mind. Yeah, right. Like that happened.
And I say this as a man who is physically addicted to Altoids and who hasn’t been asked out in years.
What we used to call the news has become advertising.
We must cut taxes for rich people so that the poor and unemployed will have a chance. There will be a stable Afghan government by next summer. Immigrants are causing unemployment. I am your fierce advocate.
If the “old” casters say it to us often enough, it won’t be true, but we’ll believe it.

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