Against “Objective” Journalism


One of the questions I often ponder is, Why is statism so prevalent, especially in American societies where freedom is supposedly the default position? And statism in the sense that I’m using it here isn’t simply being juxtaposed to anarchism, but in another way: belief in the State as the primary, most effective, and most just means of dealing with any social (or personal) problem. A mass shooting? It must be because the State doesn’t have enough control over firearms, not because the State was in control of the security where the shooting was (or the maker of “laws” that severely restrict the ability of people to protect themselves). A financial collapse caused by too much extension of credit? The Fed can fix that by…extending more credit. People are fat? The mayor of New York City can fix that by forcing everyone to drink what he approves. Regulation, tax, and licensure laws make medical care way too expensive? Maybe some more will fix that.

How does one explain how such a large portion of people are suckered into advocating the use of the State apparatus, which most likely either caused or exacerbated the problem in the first place, to mitigate or “solve” it? Often, libertarians will point towards the public schools and the news media. This seems to be a plausible suggestion since these two institutions are purveyors of ideas with which a majority of Americans come into contact. However, it seems like more of an explanation is necessary. For instance, it seems difficult to believe that it was the goal of most of my teachers to inculcate me with a love for the State. Of course, there are things to which I can easily point that would seem in pursuit of that goal. Lincoln worship was alive and well (I had to memorize the Gettysburg Address twice and was shocked when my unorthodox history teacher of my junior year told me that “the Civil War was not about slavery”), in my early years I was forced to pledge allegiance to the flag every morning, I was kicked out of a geography class for refusing to vote for student’s maps for various awards (this wasn’t some stance against voting. My maps simply never won and I grew bored with the process. But coupled with the propaganda that voting is a “civic duty” and “privilege,” one can see how it could be argued that voting gives approval or legitimacy to the State), the extent of my economics training was a three-week summer class that taught me the Fed had to step in to prevent the economy from “overheating”, I didn’t know diddly about the US Constitution after graduating, and so on. To me, it seems what wasn’t mentioned is more important than the lies that were. But, I went to public school in Bismarck, ND and realize my experience might be different than that in other parts of the Union and so that might not be the case for others.

The point is, I think that the explanation for why public schools churn out kids unquestioning of the state is more complex than “The teachers are state employees and therefore have an interest in making children love the government.” Same case for the news media: it doesn’t seem totally obvious what they have to gain by being an apologist for the State. And so here, I finally get to the title article by mutualist Kevin Carson: “Against ‘Objective’ Journalism.” In it, Carson explains how the attempt to seem objective (that is, only reporting what “he said, she said”) actually results in being the State mouthpiece. If you only have “Here’s what the Democratic Administration says,” and then “This is what the Republican Congress says,” or something to the tune of that and then pretend like you’ve given the whole story, all you’ve reported is what the government has said. And since the two major political parties are barely distinguishable in terms of their love of the State, statism is most of what will be reported and frame the terms of debate, which is typically between two statist alternatives. Carson then frames a superior alternative philosophy for news commentary. Thank God we have the Internet, eh?


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