The Power of Television

2009-05-09

I know many people of an individualist or libertarian persuasion who don't own a television. But I must say that sometimes TV lays bare the assumptions underlying society today. For instance, while keying in the Greek text of the Vatican Sayings by Epicurus just now, I chanced upon CSPAN's coverage of the annual dinner of the White House Correspondents' Association. Did you even know that the journalists who report on the doings of the president of the U.S. federal government have their own association? And that they hold a dinner each year to, as far as I can see, celebrate the power held by the president over the people who live in America (and the journalists who kowtow to the powers that be)? And that this dinner is not limited to journalists but attracts a large variety of actors, comedians, and other famous people? Watching CSPAN's coverage is really quite fascinating, as we see a parade of stars and power brokers make their grand entrances to the delight of the onlookers (many asking for autographs), the strobe-like flashing of dozens of official photographers' cameras (with many of the guests posing for 30 or 60 seconds as they pass through the lobby), and low-grade journalists asking for interviews with the high-grade journalists but especially with the beautiful people. What pomp! What fakery! What a disgusting celebration of raw, naked power! This, my friends, is American government in action -- not the high-minded rhetoric of serving the people, not even the dishonest mouthing of the ideals of freedom and liberty for which America's founders fought and died, but a fancy dinner at some D.C. hotel, sequined dresses, the hot lights of the cameras, lavish expense, self-satisfied smiles, empty words, obligatory applause, backslapping and laughing all around, so-called journalists sucking up to so-called statesmen, left and right and liberals and conservatives and Democrats and Republicans joined in celebration of the imperial presidency and the unlimited power of the U.S. federal government -- a government of the Beltway, by the Beltway, for the Beltway, for ever and ever, amen!

Really, it's quite important to watch television sometimes. Sickening, disgusting, offensive, disheartening, depressing -- but important nonetheless.


Peter Saint-Andre > Journal