A few years ago, in 1994, ABC commentator Sam Donaldson on "This Week" bemoaned the "dumbing down of America" and cited entertainment trends such as the popular film "Forest Gump" and the television comedy hit "Beavis and Butthead."
Now 16 years later, an examination of what is happening in television reveals a far more dangerous pattern than the kind of programmed dumbness that Donaldson denounced. The dumbing down of that period involved mainly comedy while today circumstances exist to be taken as far more serious and ultimately dangerous.
How many of you have undergone the depressing experience of attempting to reason with individuals who regularly watch Fox News? If so, can you understand why MSNBC's Keith Olbermann refers to Rupert Murdoch's network as "Fixed News"?
Analyzing the Fox News phenomenon once more sends us back to George Orwell's prescient masterpiece "1984" with the realization of why so many of us regard that work as the textbook for Propaganda 1. Orwell's work superbly depicted a national television apparatus where the docile citizenry received messages from Big Brother without ever generating a spark of curiosity generating question asking.
In this national milieu you did not ask questions; you just meekly listened to the national message distilled for you. The finality was that you never had to think. Big Brother did all the thinking for you.
I saw the Big Brother phenomenon exhibited in several instances. In one, a man exhibited his opposition to Bush's launching of the Iraq War based on a false claim of "weapons of mass destruction." The man directly behind him in the checkout line said in a dull monotone reflective of a brainwashed robot, "We got a bad man."
The first man walked over and with emotional conviction spoke about the numerous deaths occurring in Iraq that were thoroughly preventable, stating regarding this man and the cause he supported, "There is blood on your hands!"
The man then began walking out of the store. As he continued walking the Bush supporter, looking tired and very much in a fog, repeated in the same zombie-like tone, "We got a bad man."