News and Sticking to the Script

ON Feb. 14 2013

Robert Gibbs, President Barack Obama’s former press secretary, says that he was once instructed by the White House not to acknowledge the administration’s use of drones. ..

The word “media” has become kind of an empty cliché, almost a term of rebuke. Though some still I think associate the term with the notion of freedom as in a “free press“, maybe like the old Roman tribune of the people in the Roman Republic, when the tribune’s authority was sacrosanct, but whose tribunician power to defend the rights of non aristocrats (alluded to in news papers entitled “Tribune”) were absorbed by emperors in the imperial period as one of their increasing implements of imperial power.

Today the term “media” seems to include print, and electronic vehicles of communication that too often seem not an investigating critique of power, but the words and interests of the powerful themselves. The most recent examples of this notion of speaking for the powerful and not for the people as one should expect, appears in the “media’s” use of metaphor to report political events. This metaphorical language makes understanding news items unnecessarily obscure because metaphors often require analysis, and not just the sometimes complex political or economic items themselves. The constant references to the December 31 date for the expiry of the President Bush so called tax cuts for the rich is an example of the need to understand the “media”/press use of metaphor, for since Mr. Obama has been re-establishing his authority after his re-election as President, most stories about that December 31 date are increasingly analyses of the meaning Mr. Bernanke’s metaphor “fiscal cliff’ and not why many Democrats and President Obama chose to agree with Republicans to extend the tax cuts past the planned December 31 2010 expiry date. But until today talk about the “cliff” has not centered on the December 31, 2012, second approach of the expiry of tax breaks for the rich, nor about cutbacks in government spending which have been ongoing since the late 1970’s. We’ve heard only of an approaching catastrophe when at once taxes will increase and government spending will all but cease. But today, December 18, 2012, a profound and more precise meaning of the “fiscal cliff” predicted by Mr. Bernanke in February of this year, raised its real face in numerous stories about the “cliff” negotiations in which Mr. Obama and Mr. Boehner try to compromise in their attempts to limit the effects of the Bush tax cut expiry on December 31, 2012 when a fall off the “cliff” results from the pushing of the wealthy and some nicely paid middle classers with political influence, into the abysmal inferno of incomes trimmed by moderately higher taxes. But when the year 2013 had been here almost 2 months and the next part of the Bernanke “cliff” approached, & despite his previous months of dire warnings Mr. Obama admitted

… that the impact of the cuts “won’t be felt overnight.”


Even so, he has aggressively used the White House political machinery to ratchet up public anxiety about the budget cuts, called sequestration. The goal, officials said, is to prepare Americans for layoffs, shrinking benefits and reduced services — and to ensure that Republicans get blamed…

(NY Times, Feb. 27, 2013)

And in another Times article on March 2 under the header”Across-the-Board Cuts Take Effect, but Their Impact Is Not Immediately Felt”

…Joel Silver, 63, a retiree from the Bronx, said he feared the cuts would affect the most vulnerable. He said he was angry that President Obama and lawmakers had not prevented what he called “an invented crisis.” …


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