Hastiness and superficiality are the psychic diseases of the 20th century, and more than anywhere else this disease is reflected in the press. (Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn)
It is a great deal to process each day. One can barely get their mind around a moment wherein nothing is as it seems, before they are confronted by a new event of equal surrealism. In just the last two weeks our culture was roiled by the discovery that the Notre Dame linebacker and Heisman candidate Mati Teo, who the press had lifted up as the All-American boy, chivalrous, selfless and capable of a near perfect sacrificial love of his leukemia stricken girlfriend, was instead serial liar and a bit of a dope. The girlfriend never existed and even after Teo knew this, he now admits he continued to promote the lie in order to enhance his public image. Lance Armstrong now admits he doped for every Tour de France that he won, yet he publicly attacked and sued those who rightly accused him of doping.
In both these cases, the media has culpability. They are particularly culpable in the Teo case. This whole fictional girlfriend con is not a sophisticated enterprise. It would have taken any halfway competent journalist all of fifteen minutes and a phone call to debunk Teo’s story. Yet the myth was repeated over and over in the sports media world and no one ever checked it out. Why not? The answer is simple. Teo was telling the media what they wanted to hear. Let’s face it, Notre Dame has always been a sports media darling. They remain the only University to have once had their very own television contract to have all their games nationally broadcast. Manti Teo was the first legitimate Heisman candidate from this media darling in many years. How convenient if he could be, not just a good football player, but also so virtuous as to be the most recent candidate for the media’s pedestal of celebrity worship. With that superficial mindset as a backdrop, a huge segment of our media brain trust was ripe to be hoodwinked by a twenty one year old kid.
Enter, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. Like Teo these politicians consistently tell the liberal media what they want to hear. Obama just delivered an inauguration speech that was equal parts rank hypocrisy, insincere patriotic filler, and falsehoods. Yet the network coverage was fawning and depressingly credulous. Obama’s claims of concern for the middle class could have been refuted by a plethora of hard evidence with less investigative effort than would have been required in the Teo case. Barely ten days after visiting a huge tax increase on small business and a 2% increase in the payroll tax of every working American, Obama was allowed to state, “We believe that America’s prosperity must rest upon the broad shoulders of a rising middle class.” Most of the media never batted an eye.
This past week, we watched a circus sideshow cloaked as a congressional hearing. Hillary Clinton lectured, harangued and castigated her questioners as though they had somehow failed the victims of Benghazi. She “took responsibility” while proceeding to disavow all knowledge of repeated pleas for increased security from the embassy. She also had no idea what in the world possessed Susan Rice to come up with that hair brained story about a video. She even went so far as to ask “what difference does it make” that the Secretary of State of the United States broadcast around the world that a video caused the deaths when she knew at the time that it was actually a terror attack. And we are to believe that this having been done in the midst of a heated election was just a coincidence? The only thing more confounding than Clinton’s doublespeak and the media’s willingness to swallow it was the inability of the Republicans to learn anything of value from Clinton over the course of the entire hearing. (Did every Republican have to say that they were grateful for Clinton’s “service”? I’m not grateful for it! Would that the nation had been spared the “service” of these intellectual and ethical midgets!)
All this leads to the point of the title I chose for this column. What are the people to do when the free press that the founders provided for our protection, is so incestuous in the ideology they share with this administration? Where are our protections when the press refuse to be even mildly observant regarding the administrations lies and distortions? Even as I write this I am listening to John Kerry on the radio. This man who perjured himself before this same assembly regarding things he claimed to have witnessed in Viet Nam is about to be our Secretary of Defense. We are through the looking glass here folks! Could Solzhenitsyn’s quote above have been any more prescient?
Chris Skates is the author of the novels, Going Green: For Some It Has Nothing To Do With The Environment, the award winning Biblical Fiction novel The Rain. The sequel to that novel entitled, The Tower, is scheduled to be released in February 2013. Chris has been published in dozens of national magazines and has authored multiple technical articles in his field of Chemistry. You can follow his blog at www.chrisskates.com