Walter Cronkite unnerved a nation 56 years ago, by taking off his glasses.
by Joe Ferullo edited by O Society July 15, 2019
The video seen by countless millions over the decades: Cronkite announces on live television in 1963 the death of President Kennedy. He stops for a moment, removes his glasses, composes himself and moves on. This gesture rattled Americans because they expect journalists to convey a calm sense of authority, a reassuring stoicism in the face of Cold War standoffs, civil unrest, and even the assassination of a president.
Things change. Emotion now blankets the media landscape like an infant’s crib at bedtime. Google “Shepard Smith emotional,” and up come nearly 3 million results, many of them focused on the Fox anchor’s recent visceral response to immigrant suffering. A search of “Rachel Maddow crying” delivers more than 1 million offerings, many for the MSNBC host’s reaction to border detentions and the Mueller report. “Brooke Baldwin tears” uncovers nearly 2 million entries for the CNN reporter’s reaction to a variety of news events.
IBC24 News Anchor Supreet Kaur reads out breaking news of her husband’s death in car accident. The anchor reports a car accident which killed 3 people. When the photos of the accident are displayed, she recognizes her husband’s car. But she carries on. After her broadcast ends, the news channel informs her of the details and she breaks down.
They are not alone. Contemporary culture trusts feelings over facts, rewards heated emotion — tears or anger — and rejects medium cool. The effect on journalism is unmistakable. And a lot of the blame can be placed on those all-too-common twin devils: television and the internet.
From the earliest days of television, journalists understood the power of an image to overwhelm objectivity. That’s why Cronkite and others worked hard to present the news without emotional cues: no raised eyebrows, head-shaking, or wide-eyed incredulity. They presented the news simply, expecting this would counteract that gut-level response all humans have to striking images.
It didn’t work for long. As television began to overtake newspapers, images trumped words, viewing overpowered reading. In the 1980s TV news actually became profitable, which increased pressure on electronic journalism to highlight emotional images that delivered viewers.
Then, in this century, the internet blew everything up. Now photos and video are available all the time, in any quantity. News organizations feel pressed to do whatever they can to grab viewers’ attention in the midst of this staggering clutter of emotional imagery.
But emotions can be like an addiction. The only way to hold a viewer’s attention is to continually ratchet up the emotional stakes. It’s not enough to connect passionately to a picture or a video clip; the audience also expects a fierce attachment to news anchors and reporters — they want to see journalists emote, which is embraced as a more reliable truth than the facts and figures being reported.
Media analysts refer to this as the “post-literate” society, where words matter less and images are our main “language,” the most effective way for humans to communicate.
In a way, we’ve been here before: Call it “pre-literate” America, at the beginnings of mass communication more than century ago. Back then, vast sections of the populace, from rural areas to immigrant-swelled cities, had at best a basic grasp of reading. In that culture, “yellow journalism” thrived. Newspapers relied on simple sentences, bold headlines and lots of big photos. The Hearst and Pulitzer chains competed for emotion-driven stories like crime sprees and sex scandals. Their papers were often aligned with a political party (Pulitzer the Democrats, Hearst the Republicans) and each accused the other of exaggeration and sensationalism — in other words, “fake news.”
Their battle for dominance is even blamed for whipping up public passion and sparking the Spanish-American War.
Tabloid journalism never totally went away, of course. But its power diminished thanks to increased literacy, especially after World War II, as the nation poured money into education. Words mattered.
Literacy can also mitigate today’s journalism trends. “Media literacy” is now being taught in many schools — training students to view images critically, to be aware of the fervor they conjure up, and to put those in perspective. Studies show younger viewers are in fact better able to cut through the clutter, separating facts from emotion and reporting from opinion.
The genies of image and emotion can’t be pushed back into their bottles, nor should they; impersonal and objective always threatened to seem cold-blooded, especially in the face of tragic news. But a new literacy, a new vigilance, is required.
William Randolph Hearst, at the height of his tabloid power, is quoted as saying, “Don’t be afraid to make a mistake, your readers might like it.” But journalism is better off when readers (and, now, viewers) can look critically at what’s in front of them — whether words or images — and value the facts above all else.
(note ^dead link above ^: Most of my readers now know my site was taken down by WordPress for no stated reason. Here is my site that is still active: No More Fake News)
There are many reasons viewers are deserting mainstream news. This article is about one vital reason often overlooked…
Elite television news anchors are absolutely essential to the hypnotic delivery of fake news. They have always been a mainstay of the mind control operation.
From the early days of television, there was a parade of anchors/ actors with know-how—the right intonation, the right edge of authority, the parental feel, the ability to execute seamless blends from one piece of deception to the next:
John Daly, Douglas Edwards, Ed Murrow, Chet Huntley, David Brinkley, Harry Reasoner, Water Cronkite, Dan Rather, and more recently, second-stringers—Brian Williams, Diane Sawyer, Scott Pelley.
They’re all gone.
It was October 1940, Europe was being overrun by the Nazis, and Britain stood alone against a relentless German bombing campaign. Reporting it all over the radio waves to the American public, from his office across from the BBC, was legendary CBS News correspondent Edward R Murrow.
Murrow’s reports were broadcast from the BBC studios, and they brought the war directly into American homes.
At the start of World War II, America was officially neutral. As CBS News contributor Simon Bates explains, Murrow’s broadcasts are believed to have played a large part in shifting U.S. public opinion in favor of joining the conflict in support of the British.
Albanian ZJaar TV News Anchor Klesta
Now we have Lester Holt, David Muir, and the newly appointed Norah O’Donnell. They couldn’t sell water in the desert.
Lester Holt is a cadaverous timid presence on-air, whose major journalistic achievement thus far is interrupting Donald Trump 41 times during a presidential debate; David Muir has the gravitas of a Sears underwear model; Norah O’Donnell, long-term, will have the energy needed to illuminate one miniature Xmas-tree light bulb.
The network news trance is falling apart.
The networks have no authoritative anchor-fathers waiting in the wings. They don’t breed them and bring them up in the minor leagues anymore.
Instead, armies of little Globalists, and ideologues who don’t realize they’re working for Globalists, have been infiltrating the news business. At best, they’re incompetent.
This is one reason why mainstream news has been imploding.
When gross liars don’t have hypnotic effect, they don’t have anything.
And lately, things have gotten even worse for the mainstream. Their ceaseless attacks on Trump are backfiring. More members of the public are seeing through the puerile throw-ANYTHING-at-the-wall-and-see-what-sticks approach; and more important, the style of these attacks is breaking the time-honored rhythms and pace of traditional news presentation, and thus are failing to put the viewing audience into passive brain-states.
Fundamental and tested means for trance-induction are going out the window. When you add in rude and contentious interviews and thinly disguised editorializing by “news reporters” who have no business being within a mile of a broadcast studio, who spout random shots of venom, the news-production techniques that enable an ongoing illusion of oceanic authority collapse like magnetic fields that have been suddenly switched off.
The selective mood lighting, the restful blue colors on the set, the inter-cutting of graphics and B-roll footage, the flawless shifts to reporters in far-flung places…it’s as if all these supporting features have suddenly been overcome by actors in a stage play who are abruptly stepping out of character. The spell is broken.
Humpty-Dumpty is off the wall and lying in pieces on the floor.
Elite mainstream news is committing suicide. And in a fatuous attempt to save themselves, they are trying a democratic approach. Anchors are sharing more on-air minutes with gaggles of other reporters. But this is counter-productive in the extreme. The News has always meant one face and one authority and one voice and one tying-together of all broadcast elements. It’s as if, in a hypnotherapist’s office, the therapist decides to bring in colleagues to help render the patient into an alpha-state.
Network news executives are clueless. News directors are clueless. The whole lot of them are too young and too foolish to remember what once made news dominate the public mind.
Plus they are swimming in shark-infested waters. The sharks are independent media.
This is a cause for celebration.
The movie called fake reality is packaged rolls of footage in the back of a very large truck moving slowly toward a graveyard.
The elite standard has always been: can we pacify the viewing audience and maintain them in a helpless condition? Now the answer is leaning further toward NO on both counts.
As I say, information mind control, as delivered by elite television news, depends entirely on the elite anchor. His modulated voice and presence and delivery are the glue that holds the illusion together. If by some miracle, the news bosses could raise Walter Cronkite, “the father of our country,” from the dead and put him back in the chair, they might have an outside chance of re-establishing their dominance. But too many years have gone by; years of unaccomplished anchors. The horse is out of the barn, the cat is out of the bag.
This is why major news outlets have been appealing to social media/ big tech for help, AKA censorship of independent voices. But this desperate attempt is failing, too.
It is crashing on the rocks of vast, uneven, open decentralization of information.
One veteran news director told me several years ago, “We don’t have the stars [elite anchors] anymore. The star system is dead. The same thing happened to Hollywood. Now it’s happening to us. You could comb all the local news outlets in America, and you wouldn’t find one face and voice who could really carry the freight. They’ve vanished. The up and coming people are lame and weak. We’ve made them that way. It’s some cockeyed standard of equality we’ve internalized. And now we’re paying the price.”
They’ve punched holes in their own ship.