Here is yet another blog entry that I never got around to publishing.
I don't know why.
But this I meant to publish around the time that Steward was leaving his show. Obviously, it is a little late now, but better late than never.
I feel that the country was very fortunate on many levels to have The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and The Colbert Report on Comedy Central for the last decade and a half or so (well, obviously considerably less for The Colbert Report specifically, but that does not lessen the point).
Things have gotten so bad with the so-called "news reporting" by major media in the world, and particularly in the United States, that Americans consistently have trusted these comedy shows for their information on what is really happening in the country, more than they trust the major news stations.
There are reasons for that. Gone are the days when we had a Walter Cronkite, some unifying figure that just presented the facts, and let you decide the rest about the news. I have already mentioned here on "The Charbor Chronicles" before that news these days seem to favor opinions much more heavily than the facts. We get either the official line of so-called liberals (who really are not liberal at all), or so-called conservatives (who really are not conservative at all).
After all, this is the age of FOX News and Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity and Bill O'Reilly, where opinions are blatantly, and often militantly, shoved down our throats. They have an agenda, it is pretty clear cut, and no dissension is permitted. When they get opposition, they betray their anger and intolerance.
This much is known, and of course, FOX has received a well-earned reputation as a result.
However, I am also talking about the major news stations. Brian Williams lying about being shot down and harming his credibility in the process (even if it took many years for this process to fully develop) in his coverage of a war that, in and of itself, lacked justification and credibility. I remember watching the news in the lead-up to the invasion of Iraq, and going up to Canada right around the time that the invasion took place. What struck me is that in Canada (and in the news that I listened to from other parts of the world, particularly France and Britain), they asked the one question that nobody here in the major news media State side was asking: should we be going to war? No, here, the speculation was all about when the invasion would take place, and how it would take place. Would it be air strikes, or missiles? Would ground forces be introduced right away? And, of course, how long would the invasion last before it reached a successful conclusion?
The unstated but generally accepted and unchallenged assumption was that the invasion had to take place because the fears of the Bush regime were justified. Indeed, Saddam was a terrible, terrible dictator, and after 9/11, he was seen as an immediate threat that needed to be deposed without delay as a result. The fact that he was considerably more powerless than the Bush administration led on seemed to have been forgotten. The fact that he had been defeated and largely disarmed afterward was forgotten. The fact that there was a contradiction between seeing him as posing this huge threat to world peace that we could not afford to ignore, and which needed to be removed immediately, while simultaneously predicting that we would remove him most likely in just days or, at most weeks, but that it certainly would not take months, also was forgotten.
No, for the pro-war crowd, it was a "Hooray for war!" spirit that prevailed. I remember Sean Hannity specifically suggesting that there was a strong Nazi presence among anti-war activists (yes, he really made this implication).
Perhaps even worse were the supposedly more moderate voices beating the war drum in a more subtle fashion. I remember one specific example: Matt Lauer talking admirably about the courage of our ally, British Prime Minister Tony Blair, who had unconditionally supported the drive for war with Iraq. He was seeking re-election and, unlike here in America, people in Britain were actually holding him accountable, which meant that he really struggled in that election. Instead of examining that aspect, instead of holding war criminals to task, Lauer just spoke about how brave this man of character was. Lauer was not alone, however. That was pretty much the sum of the entire major media at that time, as evidenced by the seemingly intellectual Charlie Rose essentially discrediting himself for sharing his opinion that he believed in what George W. Bush was telling the American people, during a debate with filmmaker Michael Moore.
It was sickening.
This was not the country that I recognized. This was not the same America that I had lived in and known to that point. Sure, we had our excesses, admittedly. But we were starting to more closely resemble that immediate threat to world peace that we so easily charged others with.
It broke my heart.
Personally, I was desperate for something other than what the official news sources and major media were trying to feed us, collectively. That was the period when I got into one of my favorite bands, Pearl Jam, even more than ever before, precisely because they were a voice of protest against everything that was going on in the world and in the country at the moment. They seemed to be one of the few voices of sanity lost in the winds of war. There were other bands, as well. And comedians - I got into George Carlin more than ever during this time.
John Lennon sang it best in his song, "Gimme Some Truth." I just wanted the truth, and was hungry for something that felt more real, more genuine, than the illusion that the major news media, who were all owned by the major oil companies, were willing to give us.
It suddenly felt like what was best for the country and, indeed, the world, was put on the backburner, while corporations gained better access than ever to seeking irresponsible, even criminal actions in pursuit of great control and greater quarterly profits.
Again, this was not the country, nor the world, that I had known before, and there was a need for some release.
Apparently, I was not the only one who felt this way.
The supposedly fake newscasts became ever more popular at around this time. Specifically, Stephen Colbert and Jon Stewart exploded into huge popularity as they presented their comedic takes on the actual news, and did it in a more forthright, honest, and critical manner than the major news sources ever did at that time.
These guys presented the flip side of the coin to what was being shown by major news sources, and they were pointing out the hypocrisies and inconsistencies in a highly entertaining, yet revealing, manner, to boot!
It was really exciting stuff! Also,
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