Is Russian hacking really more significant than . . . the Republican campaign to destroy the conditions for organized social existence, in defiance of the entire world? Or to enhance the already dire threat of terminal nuclear war? Or even such real but lesser crimes such as the Republican initiative to deprive tens of millions of health care and to drive helpless people out of nursing homes in order to enrich their actual constituency of corporate power and wealth even further? Or to dismantle the limited regulatory system set up to mitigate the impact of the financial crisis that their favorites are likely to bring about once again? And on, and on.
What supposedly thorny journalistic questions could be simply settled by honest, unbiased inquiry? Noam Chomsky asked that very question in 2002, in his speech "The Journalist from Mars," included in the second edition of Media Control: The Spectacular Achievments of Propaganda. Let's say an idealistic journalist came down from Mars, with none of the prejudices used by intellectual elites to buttress up power. What would that Martian make of global affairs and the way they're reported? How would our Martian friend report on terrorist acts in Nicaragua, Lebanon, the U.S., and elsewhere? Chomsky does his best Martian impression and informs us below.
Remember when journalism and cultural criticism provided a valued, stable career—when writers could be paid to say what they please, free from editorial meddling from management, and be paid for it? Neither do we. (We're millenials here at the SSP blog.) But that doesn’t mean we can’t fight for journalists’ labor rights today and in the future.
Fake news have been in the news a lot lately. Whether we're talking about Trump's characterization of Russian meddling in the election or news feed headlines that put the National Review to shame, the impartiality and veracity of the media we consume is suddenly an open question. It didn't always used to be that way. At least not with the staid and storied New York Times.