[quote author=“CanZen”]On the Pravda/Fox analogy, the differences between the two contexts are extreme to say the least, although by 1980 no Pravda propogandists were working under the threat of gulags or executions - you are exaggerating on that count.
I don’t think so. The mere existence of a totalitarian state is an implicit threat to all of its citizens, even the most loyal of them, and they know it.
I guess my point was that these people (the editors, staff, writers, etc.) are towing a certain line because they are being paid to do so and they know that all too well. Objectivity cannot exist in a broadcast medium where the journalists cannot publish the truth when the risk to bite the hand that feeds them is also activated by such a publishing (of course that leaves no Media Network free in a capitalist world?).
I think you are rather misinformed about the internal functioning of the media. Having worked in a professional newsroom myself, I can tell you from experience that in an average newsroom, there is literally no political litmus test of any kind. There are no corporate censors walking around checking articles or reports for the proper bias. Editors do not act as lackeys for the investors; on the contrary, most media owners are contractually obligated to allow editorial freedom. Most journalists won’t work for them otherwise. A media owner who tries to shape the content of his news organization is going to find himself sued. In addition, most journalists are trained in a manner similar to scientists; they are skeptics, and resent any attempt to impose a “truth” that isn’t there upon the facts. And, as I said before, it isn’t the media’s job to be “objective”; their job is to expose the truth, no matter who that embarrasses and no matter whose bias it offends.
The problem with the mainstream media is that, like most other industries, it is a corporate culture that rewards mediocrity. Most professional journalists are hence neither liberal nor conservative, but cynical.
I’m not saying that Fox is a propaganda arm of the Bush Administration, but their overwhelming support of George & Dick seems uncanny to me (maybe it’s just my conspiracy theory disorder coming out again?)
It’s probably a function of Fox’s blind spot. Its founders and supporters don’t understand that journalists are antagonistic to authority and spin in general; their “attacks” on Bush on not born of a specific political bias, but rather of a low tolerance for what they see as bullshit, whether that comes from Bush or Clinton (who was equally savaged by the mainstream media, and often claimed a “right-wing” bias against him). Fox tries to be sympathetic to Bush because they think other news outlets are politically motivated against him, but they’re not. It’s a function of their cynicism, not their political views. If a liberal president ever gets elected, he’ll have it harder than Bush, because then Fox will be joining the rest of the media in picking on him.
Sam’s references to Chomsky in “The End of Faith” certainly echo your own assessment that his views are to be taken with much caution and that the agenda that Chomsky is in all out battle against is mostly made up of numbers pasted together and then interpreted as containing conspiracy substance. But even on that score you are going to a place that Sam did not (in his text anyway) accusing the prophet of creating his own religion.
I don’t think it was Chomsky’s intention to start a cult around himself. But the way he writes (always in the passive voice, dropping in big words and obscure references that obfuscate rather than reveal facts, creating the illusion of erudition) has the same effect on political discourse as identical tactics used by creationists have on scientific discourse. Chomskianity isn’t a formal religion in the way that, say, Scientology, is, but functionally, it is the same.
I have read your posts on the Chomsky board, but always filtered your thoughts as “oh, its that guy/gal who hates Chomsky” - but I realize now that you don’t really hate him at all, but that you strongly disagree with everything he stands for - perhaps with good reason(?).
I don’t hate Chomsky; in fact, I don’t even necessarily disagree with some of his larger moral points. But I do hate what he represents, which is the hold of the irrational over the mind. When I started getting serious about politics after 9/11 and really digging into Chomsky’s citations, I began to find that he never tells the truth. Ever. In more than four years of research into his claims, I have never once found an instance in which Chomsky was accurately citing facts or paraphrasing the work of other people. He either reveals only half the picture, or twists words to give them a meaning opposite to the one the authors intended, and in some cases, he simply makes things up.
In his way, he is a mirror reflection of Fox News. He assumes that one political point of view is metaphysically true, and he twists all facts to fit that “truth,” even when the actual truth is otherwise. It isn’t that I disagree with him politically—though on many issues, I do, and did even before I became skeptical of him—so much as that I don’t trust him. He doesn’t play fair with his sources, and anyone who reads him thinking that he does is making a big mistake.
Most of his supporters labor under the assumption that Chomsky is scrupulous with his source citations. And because he throws so many of them around, it intimidates many readers who might otherwise be inclined to question him.
But Chomsky is not the least bit scrupulous with his sources. He is a liar and a charlatan, a flim-flam artist of the highest calibre.
It should be noted that my criticism of Chomsky comes from the left. I am not a conservative, and hold many political views that some Americans would consider radical. Chomsky is taken as speaking for the left, but in fact, he regularly attacks it and distorts what its proponents believe and say, making them look sinister in the process.
I know this is an obscure point to make, but there are many different factions of the left, which can be broadly divided into two main categories—the progressive left and the reactionary left. The former is represented by what you called “democratic socialism”; that is, rejecting totalitarianism even when it’s practiced by other leftists, and adhering instead to Enlightenment principles of rationalism, evidence, democracy, etc. The latter faction—the reactionary left—is in many ways similar to the reactionary right, in that it holds ideology to be the one truth and engages in propaganda to advance that “truth.”
Chomsky falls into the latter category. He is a reactionary, in that he gives no thought to who or what his writings will embolden in other countries; he is concerned with one ideology above all things, and the rest of the world be damned. This is what led him, for many years, to deny the Khmer Rouge genocide in Cambodia, and to reurgitate the state propaganda of Milosevic during the Balkans conflicts. For Chomsky, any voice who condemns the United States is considered truthful, without evidence; conversely, any voice who supports the United States is considered lies, without evidence. Thus it is, today, that he (and most of his followers) ignores the fact that the current war in Iraq is openly supported by the Iraqi left and has been right from the start; the Iraqis who fought alongside the American invasion came almost exclusively from among that country’s secular Left, including the commies, and they continue to support it to this day, on thoroughly Marxist grounds. An honest progressive would look at this fact and consider its implications; Chomsky, however, ignores it, and instead parrots the propaganda of the most visciously right-wing political movement in the modern world: jihadist “terrorism.” Most voices of the Afghan and Iraqi left are praising the U.S. for finally abandoning the policies of the past and fighting against the forces of reaction. But rather than consider the possibility that maybe Bush’s Middle East policies represent a victory for the left (which is the view held by the left in Iraq and Afghanistan), he knee-jerkedly mumbles about “empire” and “hegemony” and his usual prattle.
I know I went off on a tanget there. Sorry. Bottom line is this: Chomsky simply can’t be trusted.
So now you have put my Chomskianity on a ledge under the shelf that reads Christianity, Islamanity, etc. - perhaps I’m not totally cured, but I have taken the antidote.
Well, don’t take my word for it; do some digging yourself, if you have the time. I think I sufficiently proved my case against him on the other thread. But no one’s claims—neither mine nor Chomsky’s—should ever be taken at face value.
By the way, thanks also for the excellent rebutal to The Champion on his erroneous understanding of the word ‘theory’ - I tried to make a similar point with him previously, not realizing at the time that it would take seven or eight paragraphs rather than the few words I used. And not only do I hope that it helps him to make the break out of his “intelligent design” con-fusion with science,
I ain’t holding my breath!
but I applied your appraisal of the scientific content of ‘theory’ to my own perspective on the Chomskian vision and it really helped to clear out the cobwebs, well Duh!
That’s what I did, too; I applied the basic tools of skepticism to Chomsky’s writings, and he failed the test. Every time. It’s always easy for people to bag on other folks’ idols; it’s never easy to bag on their own. But intellectual honesty demands it. I wish you luck in your own questioning of Chomskianity. I hope it will not only clear out the cobwebs, but also let in a little light.