Saturday, November 24, 2007

AS YE SOW... Using the word "scream" for words on paper is usually a conservative trope, but I think we can fairly characterize this New York Post headline as a real screamer:

November 24, 2007 -- Nearly two-thirds of Americans believe the federal government had warnings about 9/11 but decided to ignore them, a national survey found.
"Blame U.S. For 9/11"? Seen from a less hysterical angle, the poll result seems like a merely uncharitable reading of the findings of the 9/11 Commission ("'the system was blinking red' during the summer of 2001...")

"Ignore" is a strong word for the government's inaction. Maybe the poll respondents were insensitive to the difference between mishandling and ignoring. If so, this may be attributed to a growing lack of faith in the government -- as we have seen elsewhere.

Government isn't the only institution that's rapidly losing credibility, as the Scripps-Howard summary suggests:
At a time when the price of crude oil has neared $100 per barrel, 81 percent of Americans also said it was "somewhat likely" or "very likely" that oil companies conspire to keep the price of gasoline high.

"It shows that the oil companies are not trusted by a lot of people," said Tyson Slocum, director of the Energy Program of Public Citizen, the consumer watchdog organization founded by Ralph Nader.

Record-breaking quarterly profits stir the pot, too.

"People look at the huge profits and put two and two together," he said. "'Those high prices I'm paying are fueling those profits.'"
Why the decline in benefit-of-the-doubt? It's interesting to look at Scripps-Howard's 2006 summary of a poll that foreshadowed these trends:
The survey also found that people who regularly use the Internet but who do not regularly use so-called "mainstream" media are significantly more likely to believe in 9/11 conspiracies. People who regularly read daily newspapers or listen to radio newscasts were especially unlikely to believe in the conspiracies.
It is suggested that these malcontents are affected by truther websites. But that hardly explains the high oil, Kennedy assassination, and UFO conspiracy credulousness.

Of course, if you want to read about what rascals lead us, and how everything they tell us is bullshit, there are plenty of other popular web outlets that do the job.

I am usually unconvinced by triumphalist claims that online alternative media will trounce the MSM dinosaurs. But I am beginning to suspect these stupid things are at least having an effect -- that the daily internet hammering of institutions has in fact helped poison the outlook of many ordinary citizens who have heeded the call and unmoored themselves from the consensus wisdom of the Main Stream Media. But the Scripps-Howard poll suggests that this effect isn't taking the shape that the blogosphere's rightwing cheerleaders like to predict -- unless their purposes are even more sinister than my black little heart can conceive.

Of course you can look at it the other way, and say our institutions are so thoroughly rotten that bad faith is the only possible response.

Not for the first time I am reminded of the Journal-Affiche.

No comments:

Post a Comment