Here’s the primer:
Marty Kaplan on Big Money’s Effect on Big Media
April 27, 2012
Big money and big media have coupled to create a ”˜Disney World’ of democracy in which TV shows, televised debates, even news coverage is being dumbed down, just as the volume is being turned up. The result is a public certainly more entertained, but less informed and personally involved than they should be, says Marty Kaplan, director of USC’s Norman Lear Center and an entertainment industry veteran. Bill Moyers talks with Kaplan about how taking news out of the journalism box and placing it in the entertainment box is hurting democracy and allowing special interest groups to manipulate the system.
”œIt’s all about combat. If every political issue is [represented by] combat between two polarized sides, then you get great television because people are throwing food at each other,” Kaplan tells Moyers. ”œAnd you have an audience that hasn’t a clue at the end of the story, which is why you’ll hear, ”˜Well, we’ll have to leave it there.’”
”œThe problem is that there’s not that much information out there if you’re an ordinary citizen. You can ferret it out, but it ought not be like that in a democracy,” Kaplan says. ”œEducation and journalism were supposed to, according to our founders, inform our public and make democracy work.”
And some teasers from the interview:
BILL MOYERS: So what is driving it?
MARTY KAPLAN: Well, what’s really driving it, if you think of this as a symptom and not a cause, I think what’s really driving it is the absolute demonization of any kind of idea of public interest as embodied by government. And at the same time, a kind of corporate triumphalism, in which the corporations, the oligarchs, the plutocrats, running this country want to hold onto absolute power absolutely. And it’s an irritant to them to have the accountability that news once used to play.
BILL MOYERS: What do you mean by that? News challenges their assumptions, challenges their power?
MARTY KAPLAN: It used to be that the news programs that aired, believe it or not, had news on them. They had investigative stories.
But then somewhere in the 1980s, when 60 Minutes started making a profit, CBS put the news division inside the entertainment division. And then everyone followed suit. So ever since then, news has been a branch of entertainment and, infotainment, at best.
But there was a time in which the press, the print press, news on television and radio were speaking truth to power, people paid attention, and it made a difference. The– I don’t think the Watergate trials would have happened, the Senate hearings, had there not been the kind of commitment from the news to cover the news rather than cutting away to Aruba and a kidnapping.
BILL MOYERS: Do you think these ads make us stupid?
MARTY KAPLAN: We start stupid. The brain is wired to be entertained. We don’t pay attention to the words. We pay attention to the pictures and the drama and the story. If it’s pretty, if it’s exciting, if it’s violent, if it’s fast, that’s where we are. So the fact that these mini dramas are being used to get us to vote for one person or another is just like what we all learned propaganda was used for and thought we learned our lessons from in World War II. They are propaganda. And propaganda is irresistible. If it were resistible, people wouldn’t do it.
As always with Moyers…, well worthwhile information…, and dare I say it…, enterainment?