Quote of the day

From CNN:

Bush said he insulates himself from the “opinions” that seep into news coverage by getting his news from his own aides. He said he scans headlines, but rarely reads news stories.

“I appreciate people’s opinions, but I’m more interested in news,” the president said. “And the best way to get the news is from objective sources, and the most objective sources I have are people on my staff who tell me what’s happening in the world.”

I didn’t know “objective” meant “hand-picked sycophants who are on your payroll”.

Keep in mind that executive managers of all stripes — from the president of the United States of America to someone who runs a day care centre — is going to need the “big-picture view” of what’s going on and will rely their subordinates to give them a short precis of what’s going on. That’s why they’re called “executive summaries”.

That being said, all news is subjective. Anything that someone tells you is filtered through their own particular worldview, which is influenced by their education, knowledge, socio-politico-complexo-migraino leanings and all those other niggly details that make each person unique. It’s not that Bush (or for that matter, any of us) want objective news, he wants news that fits his worldview. Unfortunately (or fortunately, for the disciples of Supply Side Jesus), Bush’s idea of “objective news” is probably FOX News. Hey, it says ‘Fair and Balanced’ right on the label!

The myth of “objective” news, according to Ben Bagdikian in his book The Media Monopoly, was created by newspapers in order to avoid alientating advertisers. Anyone who believes that any given newspaper is objective is a sucker and should apply to the Accordion Guy Remedial Media Literacy Course. For the low cost of just one Apple PowerBook a year*, I will tell you what to think!

Isn’t there a line in Macchiavelli’s The Prince that warns you about the dangers of surrounding yourself with yes-men and listening only to them? My copy’s nowhere near me, but I’m sure there’s a classics major among you…

(* I stole this idea from Cory Doctorow, whose plan is to keep himself on top of the tech wave by creating a religion where he is the chief cleric and adherents must buy him the latest and fastest PowerBook once a year. “I’d only have to recruit one person,” he says.)

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