The Samovar

Discussion point: who are the biggest shits?
October 18, 2006, 6:17 pm
Filed under: Politics

The government or the press?

On the one hand, the government lies, misleads, is full of corrupt and often stupid individuals. On the other hand, the press distorts the facts, oversimplifies, inflates stupid and easy stories whilst burying important, difficult ones. Neither of them are representative of the real interests of society because they are both peopled by a privileged elite, and are dependent for their success on the patronage of the wealthy (through donations, influence or advertising). It’s a shitty choice, but one of the two must be worse?

Some things to consider:

  • Which group is on average stupider?
  • Which group is more corrupt?
  • Which group is more subservient to wealth?
  • Which group is responsible for more lies/distortions?
  • Which group has a worse effect on society?


I’m trying to figure out what you are trying to get at here. It smacks somewhat of conspiracy theory!

In the case of both the government and the press, you at least have the option of seeing the other side, as expressed by what the opposition say, or what other journalists say. We don’t have to take it for granted that a particular view, as expressed by the government or a single rag / TV outlet is the correct one. Journalists and opposition politicians to an extent live for the “story” or the flaw that they can then exploit for their own purposes. I see that as very healthy, to be honest.

Even rich investors in media outlets won’t stay rich very long if their journalists are not finding something interesting to write about, so I don’t see media businessmen as much of the bogey men as are often portrayed. The only time it becomes problematic is when they become so dominant as to stifle dissenting voices, or when there is collusion between a powerful government and a powerful media organisation. This is definitely a problem.

Comment by woodpigeon01

Nah, it’s not a conspiracy theory but it’s contentious I guess. Have you read about Herman and Chomsky’s “Propaganda Model”? It’s a way of explaining why the media turns to limit debate and frame it in a way that is useful for certain powerful groups (corporate and political), without there being any conspiracy. It’s rather compelling in my view. Since the same pressures are applied to all news outlets, they all tend to do the same things. A similar sort of thing works in the case of politicians, but the pressures work in different ways.

Comment by Dan Goodman

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