I realize I have been absent for some time, and I have to partly blame this wonderful California weather for it. I must say, the embers and ashes certainly take my breath away. While away from blogging, I followed the conversations and diatribes from pundits and Presidential candidates alike. But recently when doing this, something in the back of my mind whispered for me to pull back.
“It’s much ado about nothing,” I heard myself say.
Perhaps the most dangerous thing is to make nothing into something- to impose meaning on the meaningless, because it is never a whimsical act. Very much related to this is the axiom that knowledge is power and the production of knowledge is power making. I am not the first to say this and will most certainly not be the last. Yet this incredibly important concept, which George Orville articulates so poignantly in his 1950s novel 1984, has become ever more important today as the Internet and media feed larger consumer bases larger than ever before.
If print capitalism transformed the world in the late 1800s, what has the Internet, Satellite and Cable T.V done? Certainly technologies have improved medicine, transportation, luxuries, but it has also enhanced the production and dissemination of information. Information, or as many call it, Infotainment, is the commodity on the global exchange these days. You’ll find transnational corporations involved in media affairs in almost all 195 countries around the world.
But what does this have to do with the presidential race? Aside from being the longest primary race in history, we now have one of the largest and most expansive media productions along with it. Regardless of the network, the job– nay– the imperative of each news show is to make money for its advertisers. They need to do this, and do this through the form of delivering information. These shows continue to feast on the Democratic and Republican candidates for president, well after the close of the primaries. VP conjectures have appeared on radio, T.V and print news for over a month.
Now where else should our attention be? If a journalist’s job is to afflict the comfortable and comfort the afflicted, then would we not see different horizons than Obama’s or McCain’s podium. Perhaps more attention on the government’s and key agents of Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, North Korea, Pakistan (to name a few), but then of course include those dealing with the catastrophes with food and violence in Somalia, Ethiopia, Zimbabwe, Mongolia and so on. But then, one might say, this is international affairs.
Our domestic press still covers the current U.S President’s work and actions; however, there is much less attention on them, which arguably is not a good thing, especially when our government has less than a 30% approval rating (for both Legislative and Executive Branch). Currently we have had quite a few important Supreme Court decisions made (and many more pending). Congress have passed bills on quite a few topics in the last few months, significant economic fluctuations in major domestic airlines, banks and the drastic changes in real estate markets have occurred. But while problems with education, water shortages and severe infrastructural damage across the country may press on, many people have their eye on verbal sparring of two candidates, their surrogates, and the pundits who preside over this politically glutinous theater.
I am not calling for the complete dismissal of Senators Obama and McCain’s actions; rather, more awareness of the growing belly of the media and the content and quality of the reports. For while I am interested to hear McCain and Obama’s opinions on Iran, this should take a backseat in time and quality to the actual events concerning Iran (and the Middle East). Part of the glory of capitalism is the power located in the hands (and eyes) of the consumers. In the end, choosing what to consume for information may be just as important as what we choose to consume for food.