When Entertainment Rules

Today in church the bishop gave a lesson on how to recognize and avoid the deception of the devil. One of the points that struck home with me (which was limited to that time when I was not chasing my son – I can’t wait for nursery) was how much of that deception comes in the form of apparently benign enticements which distract us from the truth. I made a mental connection with this comment from a liberal blogger:

The mainstream media in this country focused on the Presidential race like it was a football game. Clinton gains a first down but is called for off-sides. Obama gets called for a late hit. Ew, that’ll cost him. Oh no, Hillary fumbles the ball and turns the ball over to Obama.

That kind of thinking and effort seems to be par for the course for our so-called liberal media, which more resemble a propaganda network for the regime in power.

This reminded me of the message of Amusing Ourselves to Death. The book is over 20 years old and it’s still completely accurate. The difference between 1985 and 2008 is that we have more tools available to combat the passive ingestion of entertainment packaged as information. I don’t think that having a press that is nationalistic in its focus is inherently bad, but I fully agree with my blogging colleague that:

We have commercialized the press to the point that their reporting is gauged for viewership rather than accuracy and relevancy. This truly alarms me.

About David

David is the father of 8 extremely organized children (4 girls / 4 boys) who is constantly seeking answers to tough questions related to parenting, education and politics while moonlighting for 40 hours each week as a technology professional. He also enjoys cooking, gardening, and sports.
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8 Responses to When Entertainment Rules

  1. “Liberal blogger?” I must not come across as conservative as I thought. jk

    I find it interesting that CNN calls their election coverage “Ballot Bowl”. It doesn’t take alot of thinking to become a “pundit” in today’s mainstream media.

  2. David says:

    At least CNN is honest about their coverage.

    It’s possible you’re a bit too generous in your assessment. I think we have to consider the possibility that a lot of thinking might actually impede your chances of becoming a pundit in mainstream media.

  3. Reach Upward says:

    The news business has always been at least partially entertainment based from the days that there were town criers. The Boston Radicals and others used this to great effect in the run-up to and during the American Revolution.

    Just because something is effectively entertainment does not mean that it has no news value. But it does mean that the consumer must beware of what is being purveyed.

    Jefferson was himself commenting on the clownish aspects of the news business when he said that he would rather have newspapers without a government than a government without newspapers.

    Today there is a wide variety of news sources. There is no need to tune into CNN to get news. Still, our yearning for more perfect broadly appealing news sources is likely to be fruitless — unless there’s money to be made. That’s reality.

  4. David says:

    I think the key here is that “that the consumer must beware of what is being purveyed.” The thing that worries me is not that the news is largely entertainment so much as the fact that most people are unaware of the difference between entertainment and actual news. I have long since ceased turning to any television or cable sources for news.

    On that Jefferson quote – I had not realized that he was talking about the clownish aspects of the news business. I had always assumed that he was suggesting that an informed populous without a governing organization would be better than a governing organization without an informed populous.

  5. zed says:

    We need about 100,000 Americans to go before a judge and publicly declare that their middle names are their legal names for all public purposes. And they should also declare themselves as supporters of the Hussein for Imam–whoops I mean president coalition. Hussein will be the first Muslim president. Free Burkhas for everybody! Hussein’s first act will be to replace the flag with the red crescent. Hussein has always hated that other flag with every fiber of his being. Which is why he won’t pledge to it and won’t wear a flag lapel pin. But Hussein will proudly salute a flag representative of a non European religion!
    When Hussein takes office every child will be required to attend a Madras just as Hussein did when he was a child. It is so good to be able to use a candidate’s middle name and talk about his formative years and his education. Because if you couldn’t that would mean that the candidate is ashamed of what he was and what he has become. Welcome to a pork free world with no ham or pizza. You must not offer a pork chop to Hussein. You must not put pork grease on your hands or your money and certainly not hallowed ground. No pork anywhere!

    Alice Jones, tinfoil hat wearing saucer nut recently came out of the closet and revealed that she is a radical Muslim and a supporter of Hussein for for president. Alice, who had previously grown famous for taking Klan money for bringing up black people exclusively in conjunction with disease, violence, and/or poverty, surprised everyone by endorsing a black candidate for president.

    —coming to you from under the straight talk express.

    ****Hussein ’08 !!!*****

  6. David says:


    I’m not entirely sure what to make of that. My first guess is that you’re being funny, but just in case anyone takes that seriously let’s clarify that Obama is not Muslim, and even if he were the President does not have the power to do any of the things that you listed.

  7. Mackenzie says:

    We will just have to take Obi’s word that the reporting is better on BBC because Obi doesn’t give us any specific details, by which to access his conclusions. I doubt that one can get the true story from any one source. I find it likely that Obi thinks he is getting the factual story when it is the story that he wants to hear. The story that Obi wants to hear may be part of the truth but not necessarily all of the truth. Even if someone actually spends time in Iraq, his “factual” version of what is going on there may differ from another person also spending time in Iraq who has a different experience.

    After a hard days work, I am usually not in the mood to sit down and watch an in depth report of the war. I will look for that information on my own schedule when I am in a frame of mind to think about such things. If there is such a program on the news when I am wiped out and need to unwind I will switch the station. It seems inappropriate to schedule such programming during times when Americans are unwinding after a work day.

    Thank God for entertainment, we all need that for balance in our lives. Maybe we are not fighting the Iraq war, but we have our own battles to fight. Entertainment serves a necessary function for well being.

    Not to say that I agree with the assessment given of the news. I think the public is not so stupid that it cannot distinguish between opinion, spin and selective reporting, and the reporting of factual information. Part of the entertainment is in watching the pundits, where one finds a variety of thinking taking place from amusing rationalizations to convincing acuity. It is a public conversation that interacts and extends into our vast media, inclusive of the conversation taking place right here. Of course there are all levels of thought presented because there are all levels of thought taking place among the public. I think our televised news does a pretty good job of reflecting the multi-layered conversation taking place in our world.

    And I think it is great that we get a minute by minute reporting of the campaign for president. It keeps us in touch with the people that we are potentially electing to represent us in a world confronting very serious problems. It gives us a chance to consider and reconsider who we want in office. Since we have months yet to go and since the war in Iraq is a major issue , I am sure that a focus on diversified reporting on the war is yet to come. Like da man said, -relax – and let the process play itself out.

  8. David says:

    I think that the beauty of our age is that we don’t have to take Obi wan’s word that CNN is better. He offered his opinion and we have the ability (if we choose) to watch CNN, compare it to other sources of news, and then decide for ourselves whether we agree with him or not.

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