Making politicians and media accountable to ordinary citizens since 2000.
Home | Unconservative Listening | Links | Contribute | About
Join the Mailing List | Contact Caro
LET THEM EAT TARTS
Thanks to the National Center for Children in Poverty
By David Podvin
On August 30, John McCain hosted a lavish birthday party for himself at New York’s ritzy eatery La Goulue, a name that appropriately translates to “The Glutton”. Among the senator’s guests were General Electric employees Tom Brokaw, Tim Russert, Chris Matthews, and Gloria Borger; Disney’s Peter Jennings, Barbara Walters, Ted Koppel and George Stephanopoulos; and Viacom’s Mike Wallace, Dan Rather, Bob Schieffer, and Charlie Rose. Time Warner Chief Executive Richard Parsons attended, accompanied by his underlings Judy Woodruff and Jeff Greenfield. Also present were CBS News President Andrew Heyward, ABC News President David Westin, U.S. News & World Report publisher Mort Zuckerman, Washington Post Chairman Donald Graham, New York Times columnists William Safire and David Brooks, and USA Today columnist Walter Shapiro. The partygoers dined on lobster salad, loin of lamb, assorted wines, crème brûlée, lemon soufflé, and French tarts.
According to the Children’s Hunger Fund, eleven million American boys and girls go hungry each day, a tragic yet correctable situation that is entirely irrelevant to the well-fed aristocrats who decide what constitutes news. The attitude of this nation’s high profile journalists towards those who are less fortunate oscillates between indifference and contempt. Newscasts and investigative reports and opinion columns are larded with pompous superficiality designed to maximize attention on those who create them, while the plight of this nation’s lower class remains a topic considered to be largely unworthy of journalistic examination.
The lords and ladies of the Fourth Estate comprising McCain’s guest list are the very same moralists who cheered the passage of welfare reform on the premise that the poor in America were living too extravagantly. The chattering class endlessly promoted the establishment viewpoint that it was an act of great moral courage to force single mothers out of their homes and into minimum wage jobs, thereby leaving many young children without adult supervision. The cost to society has been an increase in truancy and crime, while the benefit of such callousness has gone to the lobster salad eaters in the form of huge tax cuts for themselves and their grateful employers. The self-styled Brahmans who report current events feast on the finest of delicacies while failing to perceive any news value in the suffering of their fellow citizens who don’t have enough to eat.
This is the way life is supposed to be… the natural order of things… a meritocracy… at least from the perspective of Tom Brokaw and Peter Jennings and Dan Rather. These pseudo-liberal network anchormen have plenty of time to spend partying with a reactionary senator who has a lifetime rating of 84 from the American Conservative Union. However, the media divas have scant time to report about the consequences of the current administration’s policies that make other people poorer so that millionaires like themselves can be richer. It is a matter of priorities.
In fairness, no one begrudges George Stephanopoulos the considerable success he has attained by selling out every single one of his stated principles while ruthlessly betraying his benefactor. However, it should be acknowledged that Stephanopoulos and the other hedonists who attended McCain’s elegant gathering have abdicated all sense of social conscience; their good fortune has come at the expense of the truth, and absent truth democracy is replaced by oligarchy.
The selfishness of the pampered journalistic elite is manifested in the “pull-yourself-up-by-your-booties” philosophy vomiting forth from mainstream news organizations that equate being poor with lacking virtue, even when the poor are too young to attend kindergarten. This is a perspective laden with utmost irony, given that the sycophants masquerading as journalists are actually the ones who are morally bereft.
George W. Bush receives favorable news coverage from these glorified parasites – in fact, he receives something approaching total devotion - because he is the champion of the gluttonous. Bush is the preferred candidate of bluebloods who dine on loin of lamb and quaff expensive alcohol, in addition to being the preferred candidate of working class suckers who fantasize that someday they too will be hobnobbing at La Goulue and must therefore vote as though they are already rich.
Closing child abuse clinics in order to provide Tim Russert with a big tax cut is a concept that Tim Russert considers to be admirably statesmanlike. When someone who lacks character – someone like Judy Woodruff or Bob Schieffer – is given a financial incentive to distort the truth, reality soon refracts into fantasy. This phenomenon allows for surrealistic political campaigns in which craven military deserters are recast as intrepid wartime leaders.
It is unprofessional for journalists to socialize with someone they cover, but America’s debauched media is unprofessional in every conceivable way. Mainstream correspondents editorialize in the guise of reporting, adhere to commonly accepted storylines rather than conducting independent investigations, and are inexcusably cavalier with the facts. Most literally could not pass a high school journalism class – right up front, they flunk the who/what/where/when/why test.
As purveyors of the truth corporate reporters are abject failures. What McCain’s close friends in Big Media do extremely well is conform – they excel at ingratiating themselves to power - which qualifies them for lucrative jobs at multinational media conglomerates.
Chris Matthews and Barbara Walters are not intrepid seekers of the truth; they are highly paid lobbyists for the companies that employ them. On August 30 at a prohibitively expensive restaurant in New York City, they were doing their jobs by schmoozing an influential member of Congress who oversees the industry that lines their pockets with cold, hard cash.
In the darkness surrounding the opulent McCain soirée, American children were going to bed hungry, and not because they were on a trendy new diet. In most cases, their lack of food was accompanied by a lack of medical care. What makes matters infinitely more outrageous is that these kids who are citizens of the richest nation in the world have no reason to believe their lives will be getting better anytime soon.
The celebrity journalist partiers at La Goulue are ideally positioned to educate the public about the widely ignored problem of poverty, which could lead to actions reducing the suffering of many defenseless human beings. This is exactly what Benjamin Franklin envisioned when he wrote, “The members of a free press will serve to act as advocates for the betterment of our society.”
If only they cared. To decent people, the plight of youngsters in distress merits concern. To the egocentric grandees who report the news, such maudlin indulgence is unwarranted. Childhood malnutrition may be rising dramatically in George W. Bush’s America, but there are more important issues to be addressed.
“Excuse me, Senator – would you pass the crème brûlée?”
More David Podvin
Podvin, the Series