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June 16, 2011

Media controlling the minds of the masses

Hassan Ibrahim

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"Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men."

John Emerich Edward Dalberg Acton expressed this opinion in a letter to Bishop Mandell Creighton in 1887.  Let me do the math for you: that was 124 years ago!

And yet we are still surprised when there is an incident similar to that of U.S. Rep Anthony Weiner.  If you haven’t been following this story let me get you up to speed; Weiner was accused of sending a “crotch shot” via twitter to a young woman, denied it, then recently came clean and conceded it to be a “hugely regrettable” lapse in judgment.

I’m not sure whether Mr. Weiner was sorry for sending the “lewd” photo or whether he was sorry for lying or whether he was sorry for getting caught.  Either way my confusion lies in why the media finds this to be such a huge piece of news.

There have been many cases of powerful men doing bad things in the past and there will be powerful men doing bad things far into the future.  Let’s review some of the more recent incidents shall we:

  1. This past May 17th Arnold Schwarzenegger revealed that the main reason he and his wife separated was because he fathered an illegitimate child with a member of his household staff more than a decade ago.
  1. On January 26, 1998 Bill Clinton famously said “I did not have sexual relations with that woman”.  The woman he was referring to was Monica Lewinsky and we later found out that yes, he did have sexual relations with her.
  1. The cover up of the “Watergate” incident in 1973 by President Nixon and his staff resulted in 69 government officials being charged and 48 pleading guilty. Eventually, Nixon resigned his position.

Of course the list goes on and on and you’re welcome to surf the net to find as many as you like but set aside a couple hundred days if you want to be completely up to date.

What stands out to me (and I intentionally gave three examples of it) is the cases that become famous and wear out their welcome in the media far before they stop being front-page news.  It’s not that these are not bad things, and shouldn’t happen, (especially at the highest levels of power) it’s just that there is no perspective when it comes to political scandals.

With respect to the biggest scandals in political history the ones mentioned above should get a couple of lines on the fifth page of the paper.  What is truly disturbing is that the scandals that should dominate the front page for years and years until the culprit is brought to justice never seem to do just that.

Lets review a fourth political scandal from the US:

4. In 2003 George W. Bush authorized the invasion of Iraq, which depended on intelligence that Saddam Hussein developing "weapons of mass destruction" (WMDs) for offensive use.

The Downing Street memo were minutes of a British secret meeting with the US (dated 23 July 2002, leaked 2005) which include a summary of MI6 Director Sir Richard Dearlove's report that "Bush wanted to remove Saddam, through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD. But the intelligence and the facts were being fixed around the policy."

Just prior to the 2003 invasion of Iraq, the Bush administration presented evidence to the UN that Iraq was seeking material (yellowcake uranium) in Africa for making nuclear weapons. Though presented as true, it was later found to be not only dubious, but outright false. (David Ensor, CNN Washington Bureau, Friday, March 14, 2003.)

So were does this stand in the grand scheme of political scandals?

It is one of the only political scandals, which isn’t represented as a scandal at all. There are obviously those who made every effort to make Bush face some sort of consequence but they are little known in compared to the media firestorm that Weiner is facing currently.

For example, former Reagan Administration advisor Paul Roberts wrote an article calling for Bush’s impeachment for lying to Congress about the case for war, and Ralph Nader wrote an article along the same lines calling for both Bush and Cheney to be impeached. Of course these are coming from other politicians, not the media that should be creatively seeking the truth when it comes to matters like this.

In two major papers, the Los Angeles Times and Washington post the story was on the 3rd page and 18th page respectively.  It was only after the story broke 17 days earlier that it ended up on the front page of the Chicago Tribune.  In a major story like this shouldn’t the very least of what happens is that the media asks the important questions?

So this is where we stand 124 years after Lord Acton put the effect of absolute power on men into such succinct words.  I’m sure just like me, when you read that quote it brings a politicians face to mind, but what is going to be difficult for truth seekers as we move forward is the power that has corrupted our media.

The media's the most powerful entity on earth. They have the power to make the innocent guilty and to make the guilty innocent, and that's power. Because they control the minds of the masses.

Malcolm X said this in the 60’s so I’m not sure why I’m still surprised but if this continues to be the case we are going to unfortunately be well aware of every crotch shot sent via twitter by a politician, instead of the things that matter.

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