Click amount to donate direct to CounterPunch
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $500
  • $other
  • use PayPal
DOUBLE YOUR DONATION!
We don’t run corporate ads. We don’t shake our readers down for money every month or every quarter like some other sites out there. We provide our site for free to all, but the bandwidth we pay to do so doesn’t come cheap. A generous donor is matching all donations of $100 or more! So please donate now to double your punch!
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The Talboidization of the Media

Some men used to pretend they read Playboy magazine for its fiction—an utterly transparent and pathetic rationalization meant to disguise a perfectly natural interest in naked women.

The Huffington Post evokes a similar rationalization.  Where Playboy was a skin magazine that offered “shelter” in the form of quality fiction, HuffPo is a beehive of frivolous pop culture that purports to be an intellectual journal.  We can go there without feeling guilty, as if we’re visiting Foreign Affairs’ little brother.

While HuffPo does, undeniably, offer some intellectual sobriety, most of the material is devoted to glamour, attitude, faux-trends, sex scandals, predictions, smug irony and sophomoric humor (“Douchebag of the year awards”).  And if you don’t think Arianna considers the site to be high-brow, listen to her on the panel shows; she portrays it as the Internet version of a 19th century literary salon.

Its success shouldn’t surprise anyone.  In addition to the wide assortment of celebrity buzz and glitterati, you get political commentary from movie stars and Hollywood wags (Alec Baldwin, Clay Aiken, Andy Borowitz, Jamie Lee Curtis, Harry Shearer, et al).  Instead of some obscure college professor writing about Afghanistan, you get Bill Maher writing about it.

HuffPo’s popularity coincides with that of cable television’s, History Channel, which, given its staid, no-nonsense title—and if you didn’t know any better—would lead you to believe it was dedicated to the straightforward, even scholarly treatment of….well, history.  But after catching a few episodes of “Ancients Behaving Badly,” you realize that isn’t the case.  Edward Gibbon it ain’t.

Yet, there are people who boast that they wouldn’t waste their time watching sappy movies or network sitcoms, preferring instead the History Channel—suggesting that their goal in life is to improve rather than amuse themselves.  Alas, what they’re really saying is that they have a well-developed Hitler fetish.

An early example of tabloid TV is 60 Minutes.  Until the show was exposed, back in the eighties, and CBS was forced to discontinue the practice, they used what were called “inserts.”  An insert is a device intended to make the correspondents (particularly Mike Wallace) appear tougher on screen.

The way it worked was for Wallace to ask the guest a controversial or embarrassing question and get him/her to answer it.  Then, after the guest left, Wallace would reshoot the scene, asking the identical question, but in a much different manner.  This time he would be shown asking it aggressively, mercilessly, demanding that the guest answer.  And this “tougher” version was inserted into the telecast.

An insert was used when the Shah of Iran appeared as a guest.  Wallace asked the Shah to defend the brutal practices of SAVAK, Iran’s dreaded state-run secret police, and the Shah answered.  He lied, of course, but he answered.  Afterward, they reshot the bit, this time with Wallace appearing to berate the Shah, bullying him, taking him to task for SAVAK’s excesses.

By the time this latter footage was being shot, the Shah was already in his limo headed back to the hotel, unaware that 60 Minutes viewers would later see Mike Wallace demanding that he come clean on SAVAK.  In truth, had Wallace dared use that tone with him, the Shah likely would have clammed up….or walked off the set.

Mind you, I’m not putting myself above this stuff.  I read HuffPo.  I watch sleaze TV.  Indeed, I can’t wait to learn if Hitler and Eva Braun had a bastard love child.  As for Playboy, I’m proud to say I eventually outgrew it…..and moved on to Penthouse.

DAVID MACARAY, a playwright and author (“It’s Never Been Easy:  Essays on Modern Labor”), was a former union rep.  He can be reached at dmacaray@earthlink.net

 

More articles by:

David Macaray is a playwright and author. His newest book is How To Win Friends and Avoid Sacred Cows.  He can be reached at dmacaray@gmail.com

October 23, 2018
Patrick Cockburn
The Middle East, Not Russia, Will Prove Trump’s Downfall
Ipek S. Burnett
The Assault on The New Colossus: Trump’s Threat to Close the U.S.-Mexican Border
Mary Troy Johnston
The War on Terror is the Reign of Terror
Maximilian Werner
The Rhetoric and Reality of Death by Grizzly
David Macaray
Teamsters, Hells Angels, and Self-Determination
Jeffrey Sommers
“No People, Big Problem”: Democracy and Its Discontents In Latvia
Dean Baker
Looking for the Next Crisis: the Not Very Scary World of CLOs
Binoy Kampmark
Leaking for Change: ASIO, Jakarta, and Australia’s Jerusalem Problem
Chris Wright
The Necessity of “Lesser-Evil” Voting
Muhammad Othman
Daunting Challenge for Activists: The Cook Customer “Connection”
Don Fitz
A Debate for Auditor: What the Papers Wouldn’t Say
October 22, 2018
Henry Giroux
Neoliberalism in the Age of Pedagogical Terrorism
Melvin Goodman
Washington’s Latest Cold War Maneuver: Pulling Out of the INF
David Mattson
Basket of Deplorables Revisited: Grizzly Bears at the Mercy of Wyoming
Michelle Renee Matisons
Hurricane War Zone Further Immiserates Florida Panhandle, Panama City
Tom Gill
A Storm is Brewing in Europe: Italy and Its Public Finances Are at the Center of It
Suyapa Portillo Villeda
An Illegitimate, US-Backed Regime is Fueling the Honduran Refugee Crisis
Christopher Brauchli
The Liars’ Bench
Gary Leupp
Will Trump Split the World by Endorsing a Bold-Faced Lie?
Michael Howard
The New York Times’ Animal Cruelty Fetish
Alice Slater
Time Out for Nukes!
Geoff Dutton
Yes, Virginia, There are Conspiracies—I Think
Daniel Warner
Davos in the Desert: To Attend or Not, That is Not the Question
Priti Gulati Cox – Stan Cox
Mothers of Exiles: For Many, the Child-Separation Ordeal May Never End
Manuel E. Yepe
Pence v. China: Cold War 2.0 May Have Just Begun
Raouf Halaby
Of Pith Helmets and Sartorial Colonialism
Dan Carey
Aspirational Goals  
Wim Laven
Intentional or Incompetence—Voter Suppression Where We Live
Weekend Edition
October 19, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Jason Hirthler
The Pieties of the Liberal Class
Jeffrey St. Clair
A Day in My Life at CounterPunch
Paul Street
“Male Energy,” Authoritarian Whiteness and Creeping Fascism in the Age of Trump
Nick Pemberton
Reflections on Chomsky’s Voting Strategy: Why The Democratic Party Can’t Be Saved
John Davis
The Last History of the United States
Yigal Bronner
The Road to Khan al-Akhmar
Robert Hunziker
The Negan Syndrome
Andrew Levine
Democrats Ahead: Progressives Beware
Rannie Amiri
There is No “Proxy War” in Yemen
David Rosen
America’s Lost Souls: the 21st Century Lumpen-Proletariat?
Joseph Natoli
The Age of Misrepresentations
Ron Jacobs
History Is Not Kind
John Laforge
White House Radiation: Weakened Regulations Would Save Industry Billions
Ramzy Baroud
The UN ‘Sheriff’: Nikki Haley Elevated Israel, Damaged US Standing
Robert Fantina
Trump, Human Rights and the Middle East
Anthony Pahnke – Jim Goodman
NAFTA 2.0 Will Help Corporations More Than Farmers
Jill Richardson
Identity Crisis: Elizabeth Warren’s Claims Cherokee Heritage
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail