The River

Friday, August 27, 2004


Power is seductive. Major media figures not only work for extremely powerful companies, they are themselves powerful. Quite naturally they identify with the political powers and the status quo. It’s de rigueur. They can’t very well draw large paychecks while also saying, allowing or even acknowledging an “out of the mainstream view.” The mainstream is defined for you by these powers.

-- World's Oldest Curmudgeon, 1964 McLuhan Lecture Series, Centre for Culture and Technology, St. Michael's College, Toronto

Time to check in with The World's Oldest Curmudgeon again.

So Mr. Curmudgeon, what have you been up to?

Well, I watched the Outfoxed video.


Jesus God! “Some people say” the people who work for the Fox News Channel are assholes. I’m one of ‘em.

Isn’t that harsh? They’re just making a living.

Alright, you’re about to piss me off. Don’t get the Curmudgeon up on his soap box.

I’m trying my best to slide it over to you.

Ha. Yeah, forget it, kid. I ain’t going there. I drive on the perimeter everyday. It goes in a circle around the city. But I get off at my exit, I don’t keep going around and around all day.

No, that would be silly, wouldn’t it….


You really do want to make me work today, huh?

No, I want you to go away.


I am the world’s oldest Curmudgeon. I am tired of this shit.

What shit?

Fox news! Media! Pay attention.

Oh, so you have Swift Boat Vets fatigue?

Look, I know you read that in the paper. I saw it too, so don’t deny it. There’s no idea that anyone will voice anymore unless it’s been pre-sanctioned by the media. Of course I have Swift Boat Vets fatigue. Fatigue is the fucking point.

Isn’t the point that citizens should be free to question Kerry’s war record, since he has touted it so much?

Oooohh. Nice imitation of the mock innocence of sycophantic power junkies. Look, if that were the case, there would be no story. Some conservative operatives bought ads to spew hateful lies, not to “question” anything. They might as well be yelling, “Prove you’re not a Commie sympathizing anti-American liar. Prove you’re not a murderer. Prove you’re not a rapist. Prove it’s not your fault Willie Horton is loose on the streets. How long have you been beating your wife?” It’s the oldest fucking trick in the book. And how much time has the media spent pretending it isn’t? Fucking weeks. Then they do a story about how people are tired of it. It’s like a bully beating the crap out of you, and then saying, hey sorry about all the bruises, I know this sucks. …..Damn kid, pretty sly the way you nudged that there soapbox a little closer. Ah, what’s the use? I cannot renounce my curmudgeonly nature. But I can at least sit down. I am old, ya know. Gotta cigarette?

Uh, no, sorry. Don’t smoke.

What good are ya then? Damn health craze.

It’s a GOOD thing, Mr. Curmudgeon.

Hey, don’t quote Martha. Now that’s bad for your health. Or at least for mine.

So how was the Outfoxed vid?

Ah… know….depressing.

Really? Why?

So many people watch that damn thing. The faux news channel, not the documentary. “Fair and Balanced.” “America’s news channel.” Welcome to the cult. We’re in control now. The poor suckers in TeeVee land don’t even know they are being indoctrinated. “Raymond Shaw is the kindest, bravest, warmest, most wonderful human being I've ever known in my life.” America is the greatest, strongest, bravest, most freedom loving country in the world. Bush is a moral, strong leader. Anyone who says different deserves ridicule and contempt or prison or death. It’s a sliding scale.…..gah, the nastiness of it all.

So we should abhor Fox like we do that evil dude up at the podium in The Manchurian Candidate?

Yes! They are The Manchurian Candidate. But, Mr. naïve interviewer, where is Frank Sinatra with a deck of 52 queens?

Uh, Rob Greenwald and a documentary called Outfoxed?

Wrong! Bzzzt. Rob is still on the perimeter, going around and around, and the problem is, the exits have been removed. His cards are all blank. As soon as he deals one, it is erased before it hits the table. And even if it weren’t, even if your hypnotized Average Citizen could see the queen and short circuit the programming, it doesn’t matter.

It doesn’t? Rather pessimistic.

Realistic. See, I’ve been going around and around myself. Figuratively, of course, but that's what you do when you tune into the media. He’s outraged, she’s outraged. They’re outraged at the outrage. Round and round. Just like Vietnam. Just like scores of America-initiated conflicts. Passions are ignited and thinking is extinguished. Meanwhile, we’re tired and we give up.

I was reading some young whippersnapper today, he says, uh…I have it here: “However, the world is a dangerous place, and until we solve problems as large as national, economic, ethnic, and religious rivalries, we can expect much more war.” Yep, but war is our solution to those problems here in the land of the free. We aren’t….*cough*…we aren’t …ahghem hgggghhhhtttt, ptoooo…. Ahh, jeez, you sure you don’t have a cig?

Nope. Sorry.


I could get some at the convenience store down the street.

I’ll wait. And the cigs…


Here ya go. Milwaukee’s Best. I couldn’t see $5.99 for Bud.

It’s brown and wet, isn’t it?


Whatever. (he cracks one) Cigs?

Here ya go.

(lights one, exhales) Ahh…much better. As I was sayin’, we aren’t learning squat. War is one sick solution. No solution at all. More like a sickness. But our media – you know, the Major Voice of the Media -- loves it. This…is CNN. And That’s the Way it Is. It can’t even see what’s wrong with it, just like it can’t see what’s wrong with the Swift Boat ad. Like some big, dumb, headless beast, it will go on and on, “covering” it all, never touching on the truth, pretending it’s little hall of mirrors, he said, she said, look at these products, isn’t this great, now I’m sad on cue, now I’m quizical on cue, now here’s a car commercial, 600 died in Najaf last week, it just happened, local sports next will go on pretending it really is all reasonable and sane. There’s only one problem: It isn’t. In all the Iraq war coverage, what is never said?


What isn’t said?

I dunno. Tell me.

Here have one of these. And sit down, for pity's sake. This war is a crime, that's what. A war of aggression. It’s fucking wrong. And now with the Swift Boat thing, they aren’t even admitting that Vietnam was wrong. Gahhh!..Atrocities upon atrocities. Welcome to the human race.

But we liberated Iraq for our national security.

For our national security. Of course. Why that’s the most important thing on the planet. Look kid, drink your beer and quit trying to goad me. America, yeah, god, what an amazingly fucked up place, huh? America the great, the good, and her national security. Her national interests. It’s sacred, by god. If you have some other ideas on that, like, I don't know, maybe Iraq has no WMD and is not a threat, well, bud, then you’re a threat to national security! Ah, what a beautifully constructed Catch-22 it is. National security is not open for debate because to do so would jeopardize national security.

Damn, we are in a pickle. So where does that leave us, Mudg?

Born to run, baby, born to run.

Run where Mudg?

Right here. There’s nowhere to go. Have a beer. Smile on your brother.

And the war?

It ain’t me, babe….you gotta light?

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