Monday, November 22, 2010

2010.11.22 — A Challenge to Hypocritical Journalism — A Letter

In 1998 I watched a news report on a local banking bankruptcy which wiped out the life savings of hundreds of people. I was outraged out the degree of hypocrisy I heard as the journalist blamed the government for a debacle that sounded like, and turned out to be, the criminal behaviour of now convicted frauds. Here's a piece of a 2005 CBCNews item on the Eron Mortgage story:

Beginning in 1993, Eron Mortgage raised more than $200 million from 3,350 investors, mainly from British Columbia. The company fell apart on Oct. 3, 1997 when the B.C. Registrar of Mortgage Brokers pulled Eron's licence.
... [E]vidence at the commission hearing found that most of the money went to pay for high interest payments on earlier investments, and the rest was siphoned off for other uses.
... Investors lost an estimated $182 million in what a securities commission panel called "a massive fraud" before the broker's licence of Eron and its principals was eventually lifted. 
 The full 2005 article can be found at CBCNews.

Anyway, in 1998 I wrote the following:

April 21, 1998

[Address information]

[Mr. N., News Reporter]
7850 Enterprise Street Burnaby, B.C. V5A 1V7

Mr. [N.]

During your report last week on the Eron bankruptcy I heard you say "The one thing we can learn from this is not to trust the government."

What exactly did you mean by that? Did you mean that the government — or more precisely a particular government agency — which was suppose to protect us from poor, if not unscrupulous, business practices was inadequate to the job? But if that is what you meant, then have you not contradicted CTV's and the other corporate media's efforts at undermining and/or eliminating government's role in the business community? In fact does not this government "failure" actually indicate the degree that the government cut backs have been successful as desired by the corporate media, in that there is no longer adequate staffing and/or resources to do the "red-tape" job of protecting the public from just such shoddy or unethical business practices, or like those we have seen in the building trades? This lack of government presence has been exactly what has been incessantly flying out of the mouths of the Michael Campbell's who prate on about that reduction of government as some kind of economic panacea which will save the world from the evil of government inefficiencies. Should you not have said, instead, "The one lesson we can learn from this, is that we can't trust big business?"

Or, instead, did you mean that you did, in fact, trust the government to protect us and are now disappointed that that trust has been broken? But if that is what you meant, then it was a highly hypocritical statement, in that the one thing that the corporate media has made absolutely clear in the last twenty years, is that the government is the enemy of the people and that big business is the friend of the people.

Or was your statement meant to preserve the illusion of the trust worthiness of big business, despite the owner socking away $1.8 million so as to avoid culpability, by casting out your vacuous anti-government jibe as some kind of red herring? But then, if that is the case, are you not implying that big government is, in fact, culpable and big business is not — of which the example of the building trades also implies? But again, that contradicts the overwhelming amount of press which has flown out of the mouths of the Eric Mallings of the corporate media about the lack of culpability of government — such as senators — and the eminent responsibility of business, despite such things as numbered companies, golden parachutes, etc.

All in all, your statement was empty and misleading, and suggestive of something Noam Chomsky has said of the educational apparatus:
The more articulate elements of those groups, the ones who have access to the educational apparatus, they should properly be referred to as a class of "commissars." That's their essential function: to design, propagate and create a system of doctrines and beliefs which will undermine independent thought and prevent understanding and analysis of institutional structures and their functions. That's their social role. I don't mean to say that they're conscious of it. In fact, they're not. In a really effective system of indoctrination the commissars are quite unaware of it and believe that they themselves are independent, critical minds. If you investigate the actual productions of the media, the journals of opinion, etc., you find exactly that. It's a very narrow, very tightly constrained and grotesquely inaccurate account of the world in which we live.
Chomsky, Noam. Chronicles of Dissent: Interviewed by David Barsamian. Vancouver, BC: New Star Books, 1992, pp. 5-6.


P.S.: Mr. [N.], please feel no obligation to reply or even acknowledge my letter, as I have come to expect, by experience, the lack of responsiveness to letters such as this from the corporate media, despite its hard sell at being "for the people." My public representatives have always at least acknowledged my queries or comments, which contradicts the image the corporate media have projected about the government being cold and distant and insensitive.
May 27,1998
[N.] called my home number @ about 12:15p in response to this letter. I left a message with CTV thanking him for replying.

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