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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 1/4/22

Thanks for Having Me!

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Message Bob Kosuth

Thanks for Having Me!ï

Anyone who speaks English natively and is over about 35 years old surely grew up with the habit of saying "You're welcome" in response to someone who says "Thank you."

The relatively recent shift from "You're welcome" to a cheery "Thanks for having me" is very symbolic of what has gone on in journalism in the last decade or so. I contend that it's no small thing. Rather, it's a metaphor for the degradation of not only the media but of public discourse generallya semiconscious submission to power in post-social media late capitalism.

Suppression, manipulation, omission and self-censorship in the mainstream mediacertainly including NPR and PBS--of legitimate news that in any way might challenge establishment thinking is certainly not new. It's been going on since Gutenberg invented the printing press; only now the media and methods have changed and become more subtle and routine to the point of being unconscious.

This new evolution of manipulation, I think, began when some reporters (can we really call them journalists?) began to show their appreciation to interviewers, editors, media owners and gatekeepers for having their less-covered stories and issues finally attended to. I haven't done a statistical analysis but I think readers will agree that the practice is more common among women than men. Indeed, at the conclusion of a recent report on NPR the male reporter said "You're welcome" just as the female reporter was responding with "Thank you." This observation is not intended in any way as a criticism of female reporters. Quite the contrary. It's rather a recognition that female reporters and their issues have traditionally been given much less respect and attention by their overwhelmingly male superiors.

This new form of ingratiation with gatekeepers by subordinates takes on greater significance in these days when the Pentagon or the State Department ever more aggressively put out endless streams of propaganda about Russia, China, Venezuela, or wherever in order to create enemies or assure the US public of its moral superiority. Countless examples of successful and unsuccessful careers make it known to reporters that they need to show themselves as appropriately submissive in order to get on the air, get promoted, or even keep their jobs.

If reporters/journalists and news sources are providing information, background or in some cases even risking their health and very lives by bringing unpleasant issues to the public, they certainly deserve to be thanked. But by being obsequious they both trivialize what they say and undermine their credibility.

US media are always under the thumb of the profit motive. "Public" media like NPR and PBS no less so due to their indebtedness to corporate underwriting. Thus, editors are always looking over their shoulders to do whatever might make their message inoffensive to increase market share, and ambitious reporters for their part are most always willing to oblige them.

Edward Herman and Noam Chomsky in Manufacturing Consent brilliantly describe how forces acting on the mainstream media conspire to limit and manipulate the public's access to everything and anything that is at variance with the US propaganda machine. To cooperate with this nefarious conspiracy and then voice thanks for being able to be a part of it is not only unprofessional but deplorable.

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Retired from the University of Wisconsin-Superior. Former director of international programs office and Superior English as a Second Language Institute. Ph.D., University of Minnesota. M.A. degrees in linguistics and East Asian Studies from the (more...)
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