The Daily Sandwich

"We have to learn the lesson that intellectual honesty is fundamental for everything we cherish." -Sir Karl Popper

Location: Boston, Massachusetts, United States


Thursday, October 25, 2007

They're only tellin' you what they want you to know

Busy, busy day. And it's going to get worse next week. But I have one cool find-- Sidney Blumenthal's piece on the journalistic legacy of Walter Lippmann. My thinking recently has been that human history isn't so much a march of progress punctuated by disastrous periods of reactionary power as an endless march of authoritarianism punctuated by occasional outbreaks of reason and progressivism. Although I hate being that cynical. Anyway, here's some Lippmann for ya:

Just as the most poisonous form of disorder is the mob incited from high places, the most immoral act the immorality of a government, so the most destructive form of untruth is sophistry and propaganda by those whose profession it is to report the news. The news columns are common carriers. When those who control them arrogate to themselves the right to determine by their own consciences what shall be reported and for what purpose, democracy is unworkable. Public opinion is blockaded. For when a people can no longer confidently repair "to the best foundations for their information," then anyone's guess and anyone's rumor, each man's hope and each man's whim becomes the basis of government. All that the sharpest critics of democracy have alleged is true, if there is no steady supply of trustworthy and relevant news. Incompetence and aimlessness, corruption and disloyalty, panic and ultimate disaster, must come to any people which is denied an assured access to the facts. No one can manage anything on pap. Neither can a people.