Coming up at 10, not the news |

Coming up at 10, not the news

Matt Zalaznick

The government’s media goon squads have been unleashed. They’ve fined foul-mouthed pop stars and censored the foul-mouthed heroes of D-Day. Some courageous lawmakers, Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens for one, are now threatening to banish every naughty word from television – and that goes for digital cable and satellite dishes, too. Never mind that “bad” words are often historically authentic (the soldiers wading through limbs and gore on Omaha beach didn’t howl at each other like Mr. Rogers discoursing with his puppets) or artistically essential (Tony Soprano shouting “Heavens to Betsy, I’m gonna give that lily-livered fusspot a good talking to!” just wouldn’t work). The defenders of decency aim to drive their self-proclaimed mandate over American media like a saccharine, sanitary steamroller. The current list of offending words is probably obvious, but it’s frightening to think what other words, phrases and ideas could be added to the blacklist by future presidents and congressman kowtowing to Christian fundamentalists. And while the administration plays censor-in-chief, equating “Private Ryan” with porn and bleeping the troops in Iraq we all love so much, it’s also flooding the airwaves with its own Orwellian shills. Instead of worrying about words one can hear at any board room meeting, cocktail party or hair salon, the TV police should be cracking down on the unchecked propaganda W.’s administration has spewed forth. Not only has the administration purchased “journalists” to spout its rhetoric, executive agencies and branches of the military have composed, produced and shipped self-flattering news reports about various government activities to television stations across the county.What’s even more amazing is that dozens of TV news divisions have apparently rebroadcast these glowing “stories,” which “report” on subjects as diverse as the training of military prison guards (which is going very well), changes to Medicare (which are wonderful) and efforts to improve aviation security (which are remarkable). And what’s even more amazing – what’s almost criminal – is these news divisions have, without apology in some cases, passed the propaganda pieces off as their own diligent news gathering, repeatedly failing to mention that the cheerful reporter is basically a federal agent and the unfair and unbalanced copy has been blessed by the government. The FCC has the power to stifle Big Brother’s broadcasts – or at least, let Americans know who’s behind them. According to The New York Times, lawyers have cited an FCC 2000 decision that says: “Listeners and viewers are entitled to know by whom they are being persuaded.”But the agency’s cultural crusaders have yet to regain conscious after the shock, a year and a half ago, of catching a half-second glimpse of a black entertainer’s breast.The four-letter word that super do-gooder Bono uttered on some awards show is still ringing so stridently in their delicate ears they can’t hear the loaded dispatches filed such illustrious “correspondents” like Karen Ryan (a government contractor who reported gushingly about the government’s marvelous drug policy) and Pat O’Leary (another federal flack whose job is to make the Department of Agriculture look glorious). Ryan, formerly a real reporter, even told The New York Times that, were she the actual news director of an actual local news station, she would “absolutely not” broadcast any of her reports. At least the propagandists have no delusions about deluding the public. City Editor Matt Zalaznick can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 606, or mzalaznick@vaildaily.comVail, Colorado

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