Free Press? There’s No Damn Thing


It’s appropriate that the cable news airs so many Viagra spots just now. Consider what Viagra ultimately is about. So-called erectile dysfunction, of the sort that often as not accompanies performance anxiety. Performance anxiety is the kind of thing that snowballs, whether in sex, sports, or any other performance medium. It’s arguable that National League fans chanting Darryl Strawberry’s name as a taunt — Dar-ryl! Dar-ryl! — was a root cause for Mr. Strawberry’s repeated run-ins with the law. Just because he likes a little rock, he’s a walking punch line for every Sportscenter anchor and sleazy stand-up comic within range of a live mike. Kick the man when he’s down, why don’t you? Never mind that Straw was so over twenty years ago that UTFO recorded “Chocolate Strawberry” in homage to the slugger and what he represented to Mets fans. Long limbed grace, a sweet, natural swing. The potential to be one of the greats.

But, of course, Darryl Strawberry is a joke. Easiest thing imaginable to slap him around in absentia. Like masturbating, or taking liberties with a corpse, or calling plays without a defense. The willingness of so many in the national media establishment to take joy in Strawberry’s problems with laws relating to substance abuse — I don’t see any crack dealers putting him in jail — reflects an elemental cowardice in the corporate media caste. A willingness to destroy the powerless, to mock human suffering, to reflect their sponsors’ interests by way of selling American citizens on so many despicable lies.

But I’m not saying anything that hasn’t been said before. And it’s goddamned un-American too, in case you’re keeping track of such things. Better to front like you’re facing some moral dilemma as you decide what street gang gets your protection money. Crips or Bloods. US or UN. Focus on the uniforms and the signs of authority, and don’t ask too many questions. Because it’s like Katherine Graham said, there are some things the people don’t have the right to know.

Or maybe it’s more like how John Swinton put it. The former Chief of Staff of the New York Times, in 1953 [the figurative dawn of the national security state], claimed that “there is no such thing, at this date of the world’s history, in America as an independent press. You know it and I know it. There is not one of you who dares to write your honest opinions, and if you did, you know beforehand that it would never appear in print. I am paid weekly for keeping my honest opinions out of the paper I am connected with. Others of you are paid similar salaries for similar things, and any of you who would be so foolish as to write honest opinions would be out on the streets looking for another job. If I allowed my honest opinions to appear in one issue of my paper, before twenty-four hours my occupation would be gone. The business of the journalists is to destroy the truth; to lie outright; to pervert; to vilify; to fawn at the feet of mammon, and to sell his country and his race for his daily bread. You know it and I know it and what folly is this toasting an independent press? We are the tools and vassals of rich men behind the scenes. We are jumping jacks, they pull the strings and we dance. Our talents, our possibilities and our lives are all the property of other men. We are intellectual prostitutes.”

Of course, most everyone reading this knows Swinton is telling the truth here. We see the Democrats wrestling their consciences, only to take a fall for the payoffs of defense contractors, and for their continued incumbency. We saw the media establishment run like hell from Cynthia McKinney, painting her as a radical because she dared to ask questions about what the hell was happening to her country. Those creatures of conscience within the two major parties, and the media adjuncts thereof, reduced her to a caricature, so invested they were in this tapestry of lies that pre-dated most of their births.

A tapestry of lies, also known as the political center, that place where nothing matters except business. It’s always been far easier to stone the heretic to death than to examine exactly why it is someone bothers with heresy. There’s no payoff in it. As soon as you get heard, you’re offed by one intelligence asset or another. But then you get lionized in eulogy, and all your opponents — saw-toothed jackals with complexions like freshly-waxed floors — extol you as a voice for peace, diversity, or some other abstraction trotted out by statists to convince people that their blood, sweat, tears, and expended belief wasn’t a complete waste of time, energy, and life itself.

ANTHONY GANCARSKI, author of Unfortunate Incidents [Diversity Inc, 2001], welcomes comments at Anthony.Gancarski@attbi.com.


ANTHONY GANCARSKI is a regular CounterPunch columnist. He can be reached at Anthony.Gancarski@attbi.com

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