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April 14, 2005

Brian Lamb Tells It Like It Is

As we know, Bob Somerby of The Daily Howler is in constant danger of his head blowing up. This is because he believes the media should actually be informing people about the world. When it doesn't, which happens 17,000 times a day, his skull creaks and pops like a diving submarine.

By contrast, I have no such problems. As I always like to say, I think the US media does a FANTASTIC job. Day after day after day, they do outstanding work.

By this, of course, I mean they're focused like a laser on what they exist to do: make as much money as possible for their owners. True, they do a horrible job at informing people about the world, but you should expect that. A chainsaw does a fantastic job at cutting things in half. But you shouldn't expect it to brush your teeth very well.

So, I was happy to find this exchange between Brian Lamb of C-Span and Amy Goodman of Democracy Now!, when Goodman was interviewed for the book Exception to the Rulers:

LAMB: Let me ask you this, though, you talk about CBS, NBC and ABC and lots of others—if they're so wrong about what they do, why do all of them do what they do and you do what you do? I mean, if you were right, wouldn't they look at you and say, well, that makes more sense than what we're doing?

GOODMAN: It's not a matter of who's right and who's wrong. The...

LAMB: But they're making lots of money.

GOODMAN: They are.

LAMB: So it's working.

Brian Lamb is exactly right: the chainsaw is doing a great job at what it's designed to do. Vrooom!

Posted at April 14, 2005 10:19 PM | TrackBack

Nevertheless, I have no reason to believe that the media wouldn't also be making money by having informative news that debunks commonly assumed falsehoods that pervade the US media.

Posted by: Avedon at April 15, 2005 08:13 AM

Fox News has plenty of reason to believe debunking falsehoods is not a profit-making venture.

Speaking as a journalist: Jounalism is not a truth business. Truth hurts and does not sell. Journalism is an escapist entertainment business, sort of a virtual reality coliseum where car accidents and political gaffes take the place of lions and Christians.

It shouldn't have pretentions to anything else.

(pretensions are just another way of selling falsehoods)

Posted by: Alexis S at April 15, 2005 08:59 AM

Nevertheless, I have no reason to believe that the media wouldn't also be making money by having informative news that debunks commonly assumed falsehoods that pervade the US media.

There is a good reason to believe that. The media get their money from advertisers. Advertisers have their own idea of what kind of news/commentary works better to sell their products. I bet you've never held in your hands a lefty magazine full of glossy expensive ads.

Posted by: abb1 at April 15, 2005 10:29 AM

Avedon! This website is officially flattered that you stopped by.

It's an interesting question whether it would be possible to make lots of money with informative news. I'm pretty sure the answer is no, for all kinds of reasons.

You certainly couldn't make the money via advertising, although you could theoretically have people subscribing in some way. But even then you'd need the money to get it up and running, and people with the necessary cash to make that happen generally don't like informative news, for obvious reasons.

Have you read Manufacturing Consent? It's full of really interesting historical information on this subject.

Posted by: Jonathan Schwarz at April 16, 2005 07:15 AM
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