Frank Rich Memory Hole Test
I was intrigued reading the master long essayist Frank Rich yesterday set up a memory hole test, declaring “It [Bush torture] won’t vanish into a memory hole any more than Andersonville, World War II internment camps or My Lai. That’s definitely something worth watching and waiting for, with one necessary clarification.
My Lai, Andersonville and WWII are historical milestones and events, and do not correctly express the dynamic of the American media memory hole, of course something as vast as WWII won’t be forgotten. The memory hole is defined as the American media’s total ability to set and drive the media agenda, hiding stories it doesn’t like.
It may be that the collapse of Enron and the vast electricity crimes inflicted upon California were bad, bad business and political stories our notorious corporate cousins in “journalism” repeating the “news” absolutely had to report on in real-time, it would have been much better to hush it and keep it hidden but that’s often impossible.
The trick to making all that uncomfortable news of felony and theft go away is to simply stop reporting, writing and talking about it. Mention it once or twice for a few weeks, of course, even inflict real tarnish on the corporate image of America, no worries, just let it go, eventually. Fade to black, there’s bills to pay and kids to worry about and a marriage to keep up and a boss to keep happy and a car to fix and a mother who needs a hip and a cat that needs flea drops, do I really want to watch the news to get a hit of depression?
But the viewer doesn’t set the media agenda, of course not, and the anger of getting ripped off by Enron last week is completely crowded out by the day’s events and naturally what the “journalists” presesent as viable information. If Enron simply isn’t mentioned or reported it won’t be thought of as needing action or a solution in the present.
The issue, right there, falls off the current problem agenda the country should fix. That is the memory hole, the deliberate obfuscation of damaging political or corporate news by means of simply not reporting it, letting it fade to nothing down the memory hole with the public. So the criminals who perpetrated the wrongs in the bad news can walk.
Does the torture story really have the legs to get Holder to appoint a special prosecutor? Are the drums really beating louder every day, leading to a deafening roar that will produce justice?
Ha. I would like that outcome as much as anyone, thus it is precisely why all of us should guard our wits with this question, we often want to know as truth what we wish it to be, not what in fact reality is showing us.
That reality stacks the odds against us heavily, I’m sorry to say. We don’t have Executive, and of course we don’t have the media, as David Broder so perfectly exemplified Friday they’d like nothing more than to see their gross culpability fade quietly away.
We might get some stuttering, awfully slow help from Congress. Golden coins may fall from the sky in the next rainstorm. This is the impeachment is off the table emasculated meek ducklings of our current Congressional crowd, okay, of course I’d like them to function but empirically they’ve shown nothing in the last three years of Democratic control to do anything here. Look at the record, nothing.
So we need to get Holder to appoint a special prosecutor without Executive, “Journalism” or Congress. I’ll take that bet, Mr. Rich, I’ll even give you 5-1 odds, torture in the Bush Administration goes down the memory hole with those players pulling in all the suction they can, a skill they’ve finely honed over the years.
I’d be thrilled to lose, Mr. Rich. I’ll be watching, I do not forget, and I’ll get back to you in 180 days.