John Edwards and Fake Morality
Wednesday, 20 August 2008
by Mel Reeves
Big Business media are coming to resemble the National Enquirer more each day. Former senator and presidential aspirant John Edwards' marital indiscretions loomed larger in the corporate media mind than matters of war and peace, fiscal solvency or human rights. There seems to be no correlation between spousal fidelity and presidential performance. "It does appear that the current president has been faithful to his wife - yet George Bush has committed every transgression imaginable against the U.S. Constitution, and has behaved faithlessly towards to the citizenry he is sworn to protect."
"Porn posing as news is right up our alley."
Despite all the recent hoopla over when and how long former North Carolina Senator and recent Democratic party presidential contender John Edwards cheated on his wife Elizabeth and whether he and Reil Hunter have a love child or not, at the end of the day it has very little bearing on our collective wellbeing.
When someone watches Entertainment Tonight or picks up a supermarket tabloid, they do so because they are interested in the private lives of the rich and famous. They do it out of morbid curiosity, or simply to know how the other half lives.
But when one reads the "news" it is with the anticipation that you will be provided with useful information. So when we are served a menu of tabloid news - the information on Edwards's affair was initially taken from the National Enquirer - one has to ask: what does this have to do with me?
Is infidelity an indicator of how a politician will perform in office? I think not. Judging from past presidents that were philanderers it didn't seem to limit their effectiveness in office. While Bill Clinton may have been the worst of the lot, in terms of sexual discretion, he was still able to steer the US imperial ship and impose America's will on the world. John Kennedy was rumored to have shared Marilyn Monroe with his brother and was otherwise unfaithful to his wife, Jacqueline. It does appear that the current president has been faithful to his wife - yet George Bush has committed every transgression imaginable against the U.S. Constitution, and has behaved faithlessly towards to the citizenry he is sworn to protect.
"Most print and broadcast outlets do not give us actual news, but rather, their own prepackaged, prejudiced perspective on the world."
Salacious reporting about extramarital affairs and rumors of affairs is part of the pornification of the news. Most print and broadcast outlets do not give us actual news, but rather, their own prepackaged, prejudiced perspective on the world. And since the American public has been trained to be entertained more than informed - titillated rather than intellectually stimulated - porn posing as news is right up our alley.
While FOX news is little more than an infomercial for right wing ideology - and the worst offender in this race to numb our minds - the other "news" organizations are not far behind. CNN, supposedly "the most trusted name in news," and MSNBC brought in their experts to kick the John Edwards scandal around, and CBS, NBC and ABC all used up precious airtime dabbling in dirt.
Not that there is a dearth of real news. There are two big Bush wars that are barely covered beyond the airing of official press releases and Pentagon-inspired commentary. Why aren't the media scandalized by the General Accounting Office's discovery that $23 billion slated to be spent in Iraq is unaccounted for? Why does the Attorney General of the United States think that folks should go Scott-free for unlawfully filling Justice Department jobs? There are enough unanswered questions to busy any 24-hour news machine - if explicating the world were actually the objective.
But the press chose to belabor Edwards' indiscretions.
"Edwards had the nerve to run a populist campaign."
Edwards is no longer running for office, though there were rumors that he was being considered as a vice presidential candidate.
I suspect that one of the other reasons the former presidential candidate was attacked with such ferocity was because he had the nerve to run a populist campaign in an age when the ruling class feels no need to throw a bone to working people. Whatever the reason, Edwards showed real heart and compassion, touring poverty-stricken areas and speaking of the "two Americas." Like none of the other contenders, he put a spotlight on New Orleans. In some ruling circles, that's considered a crime.
If a politician came along who made sure that Johnny could read whether he lived in the Ozarks or the ghetto, kept affordable roofs over our heads, ensured that we all took home a fair and livable wage, were afforded universal health care and equal opportunity, few of us would care about the condition of his or her marriage.
Corporate media keep us focused on false morality - on the private affairs of luminaries - so that we won't confront the real forces that devalue the lives of the vast majority of us.
Mel Reeves is an activist living in Miami. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org