Mind control. Mass hypnosis. Operant conditioning. Brain entrainment. That’s what we’re talking about here.
We’re so conditioned to how television covers life that we rarely step back and take notice.
In the case of massive disasters and crimes, network news rules the roost.
First, the premiere anchors, who are managing editors of their own broadcasts, give themselves the go signal. They will leave their comfortable chairs and travel to the scene of crime. “It’s that big.”
The anchors lend gravitas. Their mere presence lets the audience know this story trumps all other news of the moment. That’s the first hypnotic cue and suggestion.
Of course, the anchors were not in Newtown, Connecticut, as reporters. They weren’t there to dig up facts. Their physical presence at the Sandy Hook School and in the town was utterly irrelevant.
They could have been doing their newscasts from their studios in New York. Or from a broom closet.
But much better to be standing somewhere in Newtown. It imparts the sense of crisis to the viewing millions.
At the same time, the anchors are also there to give assurance. The subliminal message they transmit is: whatever has happened here is controllable.
The audience knows the anchors will provide the meaning and the official voice of the tragedy. The anchors are, in a way, priests, intoning their benediction to the suffering and their elegies to the dead.
This is what the audience expects, and this is what they get.
This expectation, in fact, is so deep that anything else would be considered an insult, a moral crime.
For example, suppose a network suddenly shifted gears and began interviewing police and residents and asking tough questions about contradictions in the official scenario. Suppose that became the primary focus. Suppose the tone became argumentative, in the interest of, God forbid, the truth.
In other words, in a jarring shift of perspective, the anchors began asking questions to seek answers. What a concept.
No, a priest doesn’t browbeat a parishioner. He takes confession and then offers a route to redemption.
But if, by some miracle, these anchors launched a quest for truth, the whole scene would devolve into uncertainty and even chaos.
“, there was a man in the woods. You people chased him. You pinned him down and brought him back into town. Who is he? What’s his name? Where is he? Is he under questioning? What are you asking him? What gave you a clue that he might be a second shooter? Come on. Talk to us. People want to know. We aren’t going anywhere. We want some answers.”
This is called reporting, a foreign enterprise to these blown-dried kings and queens of media news.
“Sir, I know ABC definitively reported there was a second shooter. They said you gave them that information. Where did you get it?…No, I’m sorry, that’s not an answer, that’s a non-sequitur.”
Those of us reporting online declare there is something amiss when the second-shooter story is dropped like a hot potato…and we are called conspiracy theorists.