On the day that my father turned 20, JFK was assassinated.
I wonder whether he felt that his entire life had suddenly and unalterably changed? And in what ways? Was it a simple loss of innocence? In the weeks and months that followed, did he suddenly question power? Or maybe, it wasn’t such a big deal as we make it out to be. Of course, he was in Britain at the time, and I’m sure the Brits had their own troubles. Of course, the convenience of the date of the assassination coinciding with my father’s birthday makes it seem like something that should be affecting. My Dad has never seemed like someone who thinks about those sorts of personal things so much, but I hope he does. We (my family) never spent much time talking about ‘things’ as I was growing up. At least not to my memory. Of course, I spent much of my life locked inside my own head, only peripherally aware of the world and people around me.
I’ve been thinking about the lasting effects of September 11th on myself. Certainly, I was shocked when I heard. The intentionality of the attack was appalling. But no more so than any other acts of war that have been covered. The coverage itself was much more severe though. It was so ominpresent, so intrusive of my life that I have had conflicting urges to both cower and embrace the coverage. My site reflects much more of the latter. I have spent much time wishing that I could fall whole-hog into the caring embrace of CNN or the Globe & Mail and turn off my thoughts. It might be nice to believe in something absolutely sometimes. And this I think is what has saddened me the most these last 6 weeks or so. While I have for many years questioned much of what I am told, particularly through any media outlet, I have lost any sense of faith in The Media. This first started when I read that GlobeMedia had been bought by CTV (or their owners). This was during the Quebec City conference. The next day, in the headline photograph of the Globe and Mail, was a truck with the CTV logo emblazoned on the side (the rest of the photo was something to do with the protests – I can’t remember what). It was in the left of the photograph – the first thing your eyes would see. Hey look – it’s cross-marketing! I flipped through a few weeks worth of old Globe covers. I couldn’t find a corporate logo in a front-page photograph in any of them. So why was that one there? Because that one photo would subliminaly create a link between the two formerly independent brands in every reader’s head.
In the coverage following the attacks, I was consistently appalled by the exploitative nature of the coverage. This is perhaps, and inevitable consequence of trying to fill 24 hours a day with updates about one story. But then, as I watched and read political missives, the connections there seemed a little too tight for me. Stories that cropped up would suddenly disapear (I never found out what happened with that supposed 5th crash in Colorado on the 11th). Critique of policy, which had been rampant and a stable part of CNN political commentary evaporated, transforming almost overnight into critique (often personal) of those who themselves critiqued policy. Fewer and fewer dissenting voices were heard in mainstream media. Why was there no interview with the senate dissenters in the vote to ‘go to war’ and the USA PAtrIOT act? that there was a dissent was quickly erased too. On CNN, the anchor said that the act passed ‘essentially unanimously’ the other night. Essentially unanimously? unanimous does not have any shades in it. It is an absolute. Something cannot be partially unanimous. But adding an ‘essentially’ removes the voice of dissent from the vote. A unanimous vote in the Senate is a major, and unusual occurence I believe. Considering that the Democrats control the senate and a Republican is in power, this should be unheard of!
What I have been trying to do in this post is (rather verbosely) work out where my sense of loss, of unconsoled grief is coming from. And I think that I’ve finally lost the last vestiges of trust and belief in The Media, and it’s ability to report. They’re not reporting anymore, they’re selling, whether it’s products or ideas, they want you to consume. And that is just wrong.