Saturday, October 23, 2010

A Scammer Darkly

Juan Williams... day, straight-arrow member of a venerable institution fighting a rear-guard action against a sinister and secretive alliance that seeks to destroy civilization. night, a fully-paid-up member of that sinister alliance.

And then one day he starts to lose his mind because a human being cannot exist in both worlds: cannot stay sane as a committed defender of society, while at the same time collaborating with those committed to obliterating that society.

Why does this sound so familiar?

Oh yeah. Because it is a novel by Philip K. Dick written 33 years ago called "A Scanner Darkly":

If Mr. Williams wanted to work a day job managing an IHOP, and a weekend gig making balloon animals at children's parties, no one would have given a damn. But instead, Mr. Williams wanted to make a living -- a very handsome living -- working for the NEWS and the ANTI-NEWS at the same time.

666 years before Dick, Dante Alighieri wrote about such people in Canto III of "The Inferno". They were the "trimmers" (as they later came to be called): those who are condemned to eternity in the Vestibule of Hell for spending their lives changing or modifying their positions or beliefs for reasons of expedience:

Inferno: Canto III

And I, who had my head with horror bound,
Said: "Master, what is this which now I hear?
What folk is this, which seems by pain so vanquished?"
And he to me: "This miserable mode
Maintain the melancholy souls of those
Who lived withouten infamy or praise.
Commingled are they with that caitiff choir
Of Angels, who have not rebellious been,
Nor faithful were to God, but were for self.
The heavens expelled them, not to be less fair;
Nor them the nethermore abyss receives,
For glory none the damned would have from them."
And I: "O Master, what so grievous is
To these, that maketh them lament so sore?"
He answered: "I will tell thee very briefly.
These have no longer any hope of death;
And this blind life of theirs is so debased,
They envious are of every other fate.
No fame of them the world permits to be;
Misericord and Justice both disdain them.
Let us not speak of them, but look, and pass."
Mr. Williams' real problem is not what he did or did not say; his real problem is that, after years of being permitted to romp around the American media paddock free and unfettered, he finally ran into one of the last intact sections of the rusty, run-down fence-line that once delineated the boundary between actual journalism and the farce of Fox News.

Because Fox News is not a news organization. It is -- quite openly and unapologetically -- the propaganda wing of the American fascist movement.

It is performance art on a global scale, designed to constantly push-push-push a radical political agenda and lie to the American people by extruding a hard-right-flavored news-looking product 24/7/365 directly into the skulls of the Republican Base.

Think about that for a minute: every single fucking day, the agenda for the entire media-political-economic engine of the last superpower on Earth is prodded along by a single corporation dedicated to perpetrating one, massive, toxic lie after another.

And everybody knows it.

That's the thing. That's what makes it so sickening; the simple, observable fact that, deep down, the Big Murdoch Lie Machine really fools no one at all but hardcore meatsticks of the Republican Party base. The rest of it -- its day-to-day operations -- is all kabuki, depending entirely on the consensual collusion of thousands of media bean-field hands like Mr. Williams who make their daily bread oiling the cogs of the terrible machine, and who, in turn, depend on the rage and savage ignorance of millions of bitter Pig People who will pay any price to have someone in a suit on teevee tell them that they're actually insightful patriots.

It is a great, reeking crack-house which pays Mr. Williams very well for deejaying in the living room. And because -- like far, far too many of his colleagues -- Mr. Williams clearly believes this is all just a game, he can see no reason why he shouldn't be able to work six days a week for a cut of FoxNews' crack-and-hooker trade, and then duck around the corner just in time to strap on a collar and make another few dollars preaching High Church Journalism from the pulpit at NPR.

But this is not an academic debate over journalistic methodology, Juan.

This is a war.

And in this war you have to pick a fucking side.


Unknown said...

Mr. DG Sir! A brilliant post my friend! PK Dick, Dante, kabuki, Pig People, the deejay in the reeking crack house, the war with an Aaron Neville soundtrack...

Man oh man does this resonate. You just made my day. Love the podcast too! If I was George Soros you'd be a rich man. :-)

Kay Dennison said...

As William so eloquently said, this is absolutely brilliant!

You are positively right on the money here!!!!

Thank you for saying this so well!!!!

Greendayman said...

Hi Driftglass, Awesome article. You really nailed the angst of having to listen to and watch this bullshit for years. Check out the Juan pic at Salmonalley if you get a chance. Did it myself.

Thanks for a great read. -g

TheStone said...

I don't know whether to thank you for that post or to damn you for popping my 5-beer bubble this evening. I had almost forgotten how much everything that everybody pays attention to sucks! Alas, given the balance of your work, and this being my initial foray into your comments, I must say thanx. For consistently calling BS the only name it deserves.

Anonymous said...

...and the only blogger under 75 (besides me) who'd know Philip K. Dick. What a fucking star.

Anonymous said...

The issue is not who or what Juan Williams is, the issue is the stupidity of NPR for allowing Fox News to be on the right side of this issue. My bet is that the people who listen to NPR will significantly decrease their support because of this iron headed move.

Anonymous said...

Re: the Ayn Rand novel in Mr. Williams' pocket: If certain folks didn't WANT to believe the claptrap contained between those covers, Ayn Rand would have been just another hack writer from a past decade.

Anonymous said...

Those who want to believe what you've written about Fox while doing zero research for themselves to discern the truth or falsehood of any information being put forth there, don't want to really face the music and do a disservice to all the intelligent writers you've mentioned. This is a well written piece by the way. I enjoyed it even though there isn't a shred of factual reference in it to support it's premise. I completely understand if the moderator decides not to post this comment.