Gore Vidal Quote

“The corporate grip on opinion in the United States is one of the wonders of the Western world. No First World country has ever managed to eliminate so entirely from its media all objectivity -- much less dissent.”

~ Gore Vidal

Ratings and Comments

Ken, Allyn, WA

Compared to the European press, the American media is a paragon of objectivity and dissent (though far from perfect) and in Europe government exercises its grip as strongly as any corporation in the US. I guess it all depends on who's ox is getting gored, right Vidal?

jim k, austin

Forget "objectivity", most, if not all, of our major newspapers have a far left agenda. We take our local rag for the crossword puzzle, the jumble, the sports scores, and it's great at the bottom of the garbage bag.

Waffler, Smith, Arkansas

Look money talks, the foundation of our nation and its politics was started by somewhat benevolent Southern slave holding (Washington, Jefferson, Madison), Northern shipping and smuggling (Adams, Hancock), and New York finance scamming (Hamilton) aristocrats. There was maybe one honest democratically minded man among them, Franklin, and he was a newspaper man, a printer. This corporate eastern and northern hold was somewhat broken by the populist Andrew Jackson with his southern and western politics. Afte the war the Grant gilded age brought corporate power to maybe its highest level of success. Politics is about influence. We need to continue to make politics more transparent but lets admit that their will always be influential people in the endeavor of governance. Corporate grip in America (the worlds first truly middle class country) is probably more analogus to the grip of nobility, fedudalism, and church in Europe. Where they left a vaccuum of influence in this new society corporate influence rushed in.

E Archer, NYC

Newspapers have always been beholden to their advertisers, but they have always held the power to influence their readers, too. It is impossible to be completely objective, after all, every paper, magazine, and broadcast has a different interest and target audience, so naturally certain parts will be edited out or favored. "Don't believe everything you read," used to be a popular phrase. Television is run and owned by the companies that advertise on it -- without advertising revenue, there wouldn't be anything on TV. Even now, on commercial-free TV, the programs are still paid for by 'donors' and 'foundations' and they obviously dictate what will be broadcast. It comes with the territory. If you want truth, you will have to read between the lines.

Logan, Memphis, TN

Well, at least we now know Waffler's true feelings to the men who founded our nation. Everything makes sense now -- we can now understand why Waffler makes so many ad hominem arguments (such as his above post), he can't differentiate the message from the messenger. Fallacy thy name is Waffler. I agree with Archer.

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RobertSRQ    9/12/08

Read "Vanity Fair" its the only reliable magazine out there; Oh, and "The Nation" (most people don't like "The Nation" because it doesn't have pictures). Among all "Vanity Fair" rubbish are some fantastic editorials and cover stories. By the way, Gore Vidal is one of their main contributors.

RKA, Wasilla, AK

I don't want to say anything.

Dick, Fort Worth

Amen to Gore Vidal and RobertSRQ You might add The Progressive and Harpers to the reading list.

Waffler, Smith. Arkansas

Logan would not know an ad hominem argument if it slapped him in the face. While he worships the "founding fathers" uncritically I simply pointed out some truths about their backgrounds and positions of "influence" in colonial and formative American society. The quote is about corporate influence in American life, I humbly suggested that influence started with the Aristocrats. I admire but do not revere to the extent of being uncritical the influential men who gave so much to get our nation started. I also recognize in a free society there will always be men of influence, including their corporations. These should be watched for and countered by the populace at large. If you want to read something that has been doing a tremendous job recently read THE NATIONAL ENQUIRER, what the hell it exposed the hypocrisy of Jonathan Edwards. I would be the last one to say something nice about that rag but there you have it the Edwards expose. Evidence that much of the press should be lauded not ridiculed or pilloried.

Waffler, Smith, Arkansas

Got to thinking about all the above posts which state "read this, read that because it is what I read" or "trash this or trash that they are worthless". Then I think about what y'all may think about the "masses" in cities all over America who read their daily papers and watch the varied and competing news sources, from NPR to Fox. I then think of Hitler and Nazi trashing of media and burning books and thought control and well it just scares me how much your sentiments may resemble the Nazi sentiments concerning media. I say more and more media, free market media. Now Logan he is different for if you read his post he creates his own news just by thinking. That sounds really scary to me.

Logan, Memphis, TN

..laughs. Waffler, I enjoy your multiple posts -- as though you get quick bursts of intellectual profundity. Your definition of the founders being "Aristocrats" is laughable -- sounds like you heard it on a book presentation on CPAN 2 (which I actually enjoy watching myself, but always with a grain of salt). Not all the founders were wealthy, only an obvious handful of them were -- and the vast majority of these obtained their own wealth (as opposed to receiving title from Britain or from a parent). If you think an Aristocracy just means that the rulers are among the financial and hereditary elite, then you have to accept that we're living in one now (or as much now as there was an aristocracy then). Secondly, I think it's quite entertaining how you've finally conceded that the founders were not "Democratically minded" (except for "maybe one honest...man"). Only "one" honest man? Very interesting. Thirdly, I don't know where you get your "Hitler and Nazi" associations from -- especially towards the libertarian minded folks on this blog. I've only ever talked of individual freedom, responsibility, and accountability, in dictating the sentiments of the founders were wished to establish a government wherein the power and legitimacy would be granted by the people in accordance with "law". I guess we could argue what "law" was, but it was not simply "what the majority wished, wanted, or voted it to be". There are laws that exist outside of any man's scope, and these are the laws that we were to hold ourselves to. Is this tyrannous? Unless you think that nature is tyranny, then, well, no, it's not. But such thought is only based on an amateur look at life and the structure of this Earth's existence. What is nature? This is the very sentiment that such men like Thoreau wished to find when he sought out to find that which was life, to live deep, and "suck out all the marrow of life" -- to know things for how they were naturally, not how many had socially defined them. This is the essence of the libertarian thought: to seek truth independently and not through the rose colored glasses of society's fads, traditions, and crazes. While the will of the majority will always change in accordance to these fads, traditions, and crazes, natural laws are absolute, unchanging, and everlasting. When society chooses to live in a paradigm against natural law, this does not change natural law but merely shifts society in a de facto regime. While the majority may choose that genocide (rape, infringement on liberty, etc.) is okay -- and though they may be able to enforce this -- such does not constitute legitimacy. When an individual independently chooses to live in a paradigm of natural law, then he does not have to be a "Hitler and Nazi" faction, because the person who adheres to natural law can allow all man's liberty in expression -- regardless of how ignorant, swayed, or capitulated the individual may be. The media plays a big part of this, as a few corporate moguls sway news to be in line with public sentiment -- this is merely the business of the media. What money would the media make it if gave "truth" that not only the majority had rejected, but largely society has a whole?

Waffler, Smith, Arkansas

Nice to hear from you Logan. Yeah I often think you have an ad hominem view of anything I post, you know consider the source. I did not only read Time Mag. That was as an 18 year old high school student. I guess I have an active mind, I started college as a Political Sceince major but swithched to Accounting becasue I needed a job. History, PolSci, and Humanities is my first love. The Aristocrat comment was in reference to the quote about corporate influence. It only occurred to me that there is always influence and influential men, always I guess a will to power, that is what makes people run for policy making positions. The will to power and the desire for recognition and approval. You being such a fine student of history I think you know that Washington was considered the richest man in America (he inherited some and married most of it), Jefferson inherited 2,800 acres and some slaves, the other guys were well heeled. I admire, respect and love them all but maybe I don't worship them. There is evidence that they felt compelled to establish a strong central government of law because of movements a foot, under the Articles, by the "rabble" to try to forcefully get out from under "indentured servitude", legal debts etcetera. All I was alluding to was that the founders were maybe the first corporate influence. Jackson is considered the true beginning of the Democratic Party. I partly agree with you that democracy is not truly natural. It is a learned and thus higher level perspective. Natural law is survival of the fittest and eating your neighbor, democracy is more spirtual and "civilized". I apologize for the Nazi reference, I just think we need to read something, anything, and everything. Attacking the media I think is a small minded but big ego exercise which says I know better than everyone else. These attacks on the media remind me of the SNL skit where these two young men push wooden splints undeer their finger nails and complain of the pain by wailing "I hate that" and then push harder and say "Oh I hate that". I mean if you hate it why do you do it, read and watch the media. The other idea dripping from between the lines of these posts and your sneering comment about Time, Inc. is you want everyone else to turn this stuff off that you so dislike. Now that attitude is so totalitarian and dictatorial and speaks volumes about the fact that the posters are not only against the freedom of the press but also against the freedom of the receipients. I have an opinion about the upcoming election as do many, opinion is pretty well split 50/50. While I may have a tendency to sneer or think ignorant those on the opposite side I must allow them their views, their press etcetera, just keep plugging along. Again the National Enquirer which I never read did a good job on exposing Edwars so there ya go. My job Logan was involved in legal work where I had to write up documents which had four sections titled, Issue, Facts, Law and Argument, Opposing Argument, Conclusion. In freshman college history one essay test came back with the professors comment "You try to grasp big issues", I don't know from profundity but I have always treasured the profs words as a compliment. Maybe trying to grasp big ideas has been my donwfall. One idea of mine however was given anonymous recognition in US News and World Reports Magazine.

Logan, Memphis, TN

Well said, Waffler. I would argue that natural law is not in fact the "survival of the fittest". The men who purported this idea in fact rejected "survival of the fittest" mentality as well. When first looking into the premise of natural law the student sees that in nature a lion will kill its prey without second thought (because of its hunger); afterward, the beginning student will then instantly transpose such action into human interaction, and will thus reason that such natural law is barbaric in a human-level systems of interaction. This, however, is not the case. The difference between man and animal is that man has higher levels of logic, reasoning, and the ability of associating larger ideas together in ways to, as you said, "grasp big issues". This fact then takes man out of the survival of the fittest paradigm of what us humans see in nature around us; after all, it is only us humans that are reasoning the premise of nature -- the lions, tigers, birds, and wildlife do not meditate on such things -- and thus our interactions will be obviously different than those of the rest of the animal kingdom; man will not kill man simply for the reason of being hungry in nature, because he reasons and argues a higher purpose of interaction between each his associates. The philosophers of the Enlightenment understood this when they sought to establish a government based on "the laws of nature and of Nature's God". They certainly weren't advocating the law of the fittest, in giving us this government, nor were they interested in giving us a monarchy, aristocracy, oligarchy, etc. (these all being systems of government that would follow the "survival of the fittest" paradigm). Throughout history, peoples of nations have been swayed by knee-jerk politicians who seek to bend public sentiment to their policies; majority only systems have historical not lasted more than 200-400 years, because these political bodies have swayed the public out of their own ability to exercise their own rights through fear tactics of real and imaginary monsters that are slain through the process of the people "giving up" their freedom. Such systems have largely ended in tyrannies, because the majority figured it could do whatever it wanted (by virtue of being the majority) over the rest of the people in "giving" government powers that it had no "natural" ability/right of giving to government. This is the argument of de facto over de jure government. While government may exercise power, it doesn't mean that such power is legitimate -- even if it was condoned by the majority. As you've said, "Democracy" is not a completely natural process -- nor is probably any of man's established government. All government therefore is arbitrary, is it not? The founders of this nation were not gods, they were not infallible, but after giving their lives to the cause of freedom these intelligent men certainly didn't want to haphazardly throw a government together that wouldn't last. I would argue that none of us here on this blog have ever so well left their own ideology behind to look through history to see things for how they actually happened as did our founders; after pledging their "lives, fortunes, and sacred honor" they took as clear a look as man can make though history to find what worked and what didn't. Democracy (absolute majority rule systems) hadn't proved themselves to work as well as they sought, nor did they want to follow the course of many of the Republics throughout history (Rome, for instance, because they wanted to keep vouchsafe individual freedom and liberty). Republics differed through history not only by their mechanical operation, but by the premise of the laws in which they enacted -- some Republics, while all operated on "law", established their laws according to what the elite or those in power stated. The Roman Republic originally based its laws on the "divine" edicts of Caesar where you didn't have any rights unless Caesar said you did (hardly a system of government the founders wanted to follow). Our founders, in essence, instead of giving the body politic the power to enact "rights", established and gave that the "Creator" was the giver of rights; thus bypassing man's ability to exercise illegitimate control over his neighbor -- this then ties the hands of government to never step outside the bounds of what the "Creator" has enacted. Since we cannot "know" the mind of the Creator, we are only left to seeing the manifestation of his creation and how we fit into it through reason and logic in observing nature. As stated, man has the highest ability of logic and reason, and is therefore responsible to act accordingly in a "state of nature" -- man, naturally, will not be found to live therefore in the paradigm of survival of the fittest. How then do you form a government where the people would adhere to natural laws, where the power would ultimately find its power and legitimacy in the people, and where the rights of the majority, minority, and individual would always be vouchsafe and protected -- regardless of swaying and knee-jerk politicians? Majority rule only systems had not proven themselves to have kept these three things vouchsafe before, why would our founders want to establish a system that had no proven longevity? Republics, however, as the likes of Machiavelli describes, were proven to last for 500-800 years. Why did Republics have a better longevity? It was a totally new idea to form a Republic (arbitrary system) according to a premise of natural laws (absolute and eternal). This is not tyrannical, dictatorial, or evil; this is brilliant and amazing! When government operates on the premise of natural law, this opens and allows society to promote their own ideas. This allows the media to take any position it wants to, because the government cannot then punish the media for being "heretical", "sacrilegious", or wrong. The people are free, the media is free, the very existence of all life is then free to move and act -- not because the majority said so, but because the government acknowledges that the people are free because a "Creator" has given them their rights. If the established premise of government is that people receive their rights from their "Creator" (as opposed to the government -- which had been the premise of every other Republic and other system of government), and if the only way we can see the will of the Creator is to reason so by observing nature, and since man has the heightened ability of logic, reason, and power of association to "grasp big issues", then we can form a government wherein man exists in peace with his neighbor and nature to never be threatened or coerced by usurpation and tyranny -- of a majority (usually caused through the excitement of party politics) or of an assuming monarch, aristocracy, oligarchy, etc. Once a system of government shifts towards a party politic mindset (as the founders warned against once we were given our form of government), this allows the market to be filled media sources that merely promote each sides' usually de facto view, instead of purporting a more substantial de jure view of society and government. As a people, we used to ask ourselves whether a law was legitimate in keeping with the principles of a de jure system, but today -- because of many reasons, such as party politics -- the people do not view legitimacy of government as being in line with de jure principles, but only in what one side can overcome on the other side. Can the Republicans screw the other side faster, or can the Democrats screw the other side faster. Obviously, each side honestly only wants to help, but perhaps we can assume that the "truth" of what should be cannot possibly be held between only two parties. Media promotes this dichotomy of de fact ideas because this is their source of revenue. Is there a "reality" in what they're speaking? Yes, there is a game played that is very real in a government operating under de facto laws, and this game is what we see everyday on FOXNews, CNN, MSNBC, CBS, or in US News and World Reports, TIME, etc. Who actually asks anymore whether a law is legitimate? The people don't, and even watchdog groups, such as the ACLU, have stated that they have a certain agenda in their endeavors. While I support a few particular actions of these watchdog groups, I disagree with their basic premise, because none of them operate on securing inalienable right as given by a Creator. This is the main reason I reject the major media for any real substance; while they may report accurately for their chosen political side, these media moguls have rejected to report on anything more than "the game". Why do I go to scholastic papers for information before major media? Is there no bias in scholastic papers? Absolutely there is bias in these papers, but there is still a standard in the scholastic world wherein we still adhere to a large extent on certain absolutes (such as what our Republic was to be built on) in accepting or rejecting certain hypothesis. There is no absolute in government anymore; both political sides are to blame. The media does not report on what is independently right or wrong, but the major media only really focuses anymore on the rightness of their side and the wrongness of the other. This is far from the brilliant ideas and philosophies that made America great.

Waffler, Smith, Arkansas

I am not sure that it was the founders intent to establish a Republic that would last a 1000 years, or 100 years. I believe it was their idea to establish one that could make it from day to day one day at a time and take it day, month and year in faith. That is why they gave us the right to amend their fine document, they knew they were not capable of setting down perfection in politics and philosophy. Those that try to arrive at perfection and think that they have done it wind up being tyrants.

E Archer, NYC

The founders intent was to break free from the rule of monarchy and priest that laid claim to every aspect of people's lives. Thirteen British colonies banded together and declared their independence from the rule of a King upon the principles of the Rights of Man inherent from birth. These rights were considered to be self-evident and inalienable by any human act. What are these rights? The founders did not presume to declare what all our rights were -- after all, freedom to act responsibly can result in myriads and myriads of possibilities. However, they did identify a few 'rights' that the government could not infringe upon -- those rights were identified in the Constitution and the Bill of Rights to limit what people could do in an official capacity. We were not 'given' the right to amend our Constitution -- we already had it -- that is where the Constitution came from in the first place. People have simply forgotten (with quite a bit of help from politicians and the press) that the Constitution is the rule book for government, not the People. What is the 'press' anyway but simply the published or recorded words of another? It is how we use these publications to further our personal agendas that matters. And today, as Waffler seems to be touching upon, POWER is what it is all about -- MONEY from the public to be used for personal gains. Yes, we are a Republic based on the rule of law, not the rule of men whether in a majority or minority (i.e. the most powerful gang), but when the law is perverted to take from one to give to another, it is the SYSTEM that now breeds corrupt politicians and media. The profits here are ENORMOUS, and we are bound to follow their edicts at gun point (and the 'gun' is getting bigger by the minute). With the advent of television, controlling the 'hearts and minds' of the masses has become easy -- and such a power in the hands of a few can sway the passions of billions in an instant. That doesn't make it truth. And since advertising is the primary function of television -- or should I say 'selling' is the primary function of television -- the media puts whatever 'sells' best. If you want to sell different ideas, you will have to pony up the dough.

warren, olathe

Waffler you do not know what the definition of truth is. You probably are also confused about what the definition of is is.

warren, olathe

Ken you got it right when comparing our press to Europe’s. At least here if you hunt long enough you might find the other side of a story somewhere. The problem in much of Europe is that the people swallow it whole with out any questioning of accuracy. People in Europe will often say, when the press is challenged, "they wouldn't be allowed to say that if it were not true".

Mike, Norwalk

A most simple example is Soros' owned businesses financing of lies, propaganda, political correctness, rioting, mayhem and chaos (made exotic through media and politics). Political parties coordinating with major media for that which will be published - all with an oversight from Soros' active corporations. Little to no objectivity in any of the major media. When it is understood that a "corporation" is a legal person / extension of the State - a more accurate perspective exists of the 3 headed single beast; i.e., government / corporations / media (when fully developed, 3 heads on the same beast).

Patrick Henry, Red Hill

Were it not for the contemporary American
rendering of the Soviet Union's samizdat, the primarily electronic, particularly Internet and radio based alternative news and information resources that exist, mercifully, the nation's journalistic landscape would be a veritable wasteland.

robert, Somewhere in the US

One of my heroes - by the way he died July 31, 2012

Alvin, Grandview, TN

I think that most of the ideas and observations posted here are worthy of consideration, despite the heated attitudes expressed. Personally, I get most of my news from TIME magazine and NPR.


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