In the wake of the Sandy Hook murders, I’ve been describing how the television coverage is a form of mind control.
Of course, it’s wall-to-wall mind control every day, no matter what stories the networks are focused on.
The best of the best mind control is applied by the three major network anchors: Brian Williams, Scott Pelley, and Diane Sawyer.
They don’t do it as well as Cronkite, Chet Huntley, David Brinkley, and Edward R Murrow once worked their magic, but they’re fairly good practitioners of the art. Brian Williams is the current champion.
Here are the qualities you need to rise to the top of the charts.
You believe and don’t believe in what you’re doing at the same time.
You know it’s all an act, but yet you have firm faith in the importance of the material you’re presenting. You think the stories you’re covering, and the way you’re covering them, is unrivaled truth.
Dan Rather was an interesting case. At one time, he was quite convincing. He was a “trusted voice.” But then he faltered and stumbled over the George W Bush military-service scandal, and he went down in flames. Even before that, you could see occasional cracks in his armor. He was doubting his own faith. He was flickering a bit here and there, like a doubting priest in the Roman Church who had no one to confess to.
When the elite anchor goes on air and digs in, he’s seamless. He could be transitioning from mass killings in East Asia to sub-standard air conditioners, and he makes the audience track through the absurd curve in the road.
In this respect, he’s a major surrealist painter. The audience sees objects on the canvas that obviously don’t go together and yet they’re intrigued and mesmerized.
Then there is the voice itself. The elite anchor has a voice that soothes just a bit but brooks no resistance. It’s authoritative but not cold. Scott Pelley is careful to watch himself on this count, because his tendency is to shove the message down the viewer’s throat like a pro surgeon making an incision. And Pelley also used to look down his nose at the great unwashed. He’s been working to correct that. He’s a high-IQ android who’s training himself to be human.
Diane Sawyer wanders into sloppiness. She pours syrup, as if she’s had a few cocktails before the broadcast. And she affects a pose of “caring too much.”
Brian Williams is head and shoulders above his two competitors. You have to look and listen very hard to spot even a speck of confusion in his delivery. He knows exactly how to believe his act is real. He can also flick a little aw-shucks apple-pie at the viewer. Country boy who moved to the big city.
If none of these anchors could have “pulled the country together” after JFK’s assassination, it’s in part because that country doesn’t exist anymore. America doesn’t want a daddy.
The vocal delivery of an elite anchor has to work poetic rhythms into prose. Shallow hills and valleys. Clip it here and there. Give the important words a pop. Make no mistake about it, this is hypnosis at work. Not the cheesy stage act with three rubes sitting in chairs, waiting to be made into fools by the used-car salesman waving a pendulum. This is high-class stuff. It flows with great certainty. It entrains and conditions brains. The audience tunes in every night to get their fix.
That’s the key. The audience doesn’t really care about content. They want the delivery, the sound, the voice of the face.
Brain Williams could do a story about three hookers getting thrown out of a restaurant by a doctor celebrating his anniversary with his wife, and it would come across like the Pentagon sending warships into the Gulf.
Diane Sawyer couldn’t. That’s why Williams’ ratings are higher.
Segueways, blends are absolutely vital. These are the transitions between one story and another. “Earlier today, in Boston.” “Meanwhile, in New York, the police are reporting.” “But on the Hill, the news was somewhat disappointing for supporters of the president.”
Doing excellent blends can earn an anchor millions of dollars. The audience doesn’t wobble or falter or make distinctions between what went before and what’s coming now. It’s all one script. It’s one winding story every night.
Therefore, the viewer doesn’t need to think. Which is the acid test. If the ratings are high enough and the audience isn’t thinking, we have a winner. Corollary: the audience doesn’t notice the parameters of stories, how they’re bounded and defined and artificially constructed to omit deeper themes and various criminals who are committing outrageous crimes that aren’t supposed to be exposed.
For example, pharmaceutical companies sell drugs that cause a few hundred thousand deaths in America every year like clockwork.
Brian Williams, with just a bit of his twanging emphasis, can say, “Today, pharmaceutical giant Glaxo was fined one-point-nine billions dollars,” but he can’t tie all the horrendous stories of medical-drug damage together in a searing indictment of the whole industry.
The audience needs to remain oblivious to this larger story. The anchor ensures and guarantees a clueless missing bottom line. That’s his job. That’s his underlying assignment.
It’s called, in intelligence circles, a limited hangout. You expose a piece of a crime, in order to transmit the illusion of guilt-and-justice, while the true RICO dimensions are kept out of view.
Elite anchors are the princes of limit hangouts. That is their stock in trade. Sell the illusion of justice while concealing the bulk of the iceberg that is under water.
The audience can watch and listen to hours of coverage on revolutions and counter-revolutions in the Middle East, but they can’t suspect that the US and NATO are funding terrorists dressed up as freedom fighters, in order destabilize and destroy nations in that region.
“More gunfire and explosions in the capital city today…”
Then there is a little thing called conscience. The elite anchor can’t have one. He has to pretend to have one, but it isn’t real.
Every year, the anchor covers dozens of scandals that are left to wither and die on the vine and fall down the memory hole, never to be seen again, except perhaps for a much-later task-force or commission report that equivocates and exonerates the major players.
The anchor has to deal with this. He has to develop memory loss. Yes, if interviewed by Charlie Rose or Brian Lamb, he can bring back details of prior stories left to the inhabitants of Wonderland, but on a day-to-day basis he has no memory.
In editorial meetings at his own network offices, if someone mentions trillions in government bailouts to banks, he can frown slightly and thus impart, “It’s stale, it’s old.” But if Brian Lamb interviews him about the “time of the bailouts,” he can recall the story in full…and tap dance on the head of a pin for five minutes, indicting no one, without losing a shred of credibility in the eyes of the American public.
And when it comes to the elites the anchor is pledged to? CFR, Rockefeller interests, Wall Street, Goldman Sachs, government-allied Big Medicine, Globalism, and so on? Nary a damaging word will be said. Nothing to see, nothing to say. No problem.
Therefore, the viewing audience doesn’t suspect these controlling entities are doing anything wrong or, in some cases, even exist.
Conspiracy? “Aw shucks, I really do have sympathy for the people who dig up this stuff. And I’m not saying all of it is wrong, either. But you know, journalism is about plumbing for facts and verifying them. That’s the hard truth we have to face in this business. Going on the air with a possible this and a possible that is ultimately irresponsible. If we who present the news feel an occasional impulse to wing it, we have to rein ourselves in. Restraint is part of our job…”
Show these jokers a few devastating books by Anthony Sutton or Caroll Quigley and they’ll nod and say, “I did read that one in college. It was interesting but a little thin, I thought…”
The anchors project a sense they’re doing science. Gathering facts, verifying, testing, repeating the study again to see if it holds up, checking the checkers, confirming the sources, tailoring the assertions to make there’s no wandering off the well-researched path.
It’s part of the act.
The elite anchor has to impart the impression that he’s personally familiar with the events he’s reporting. That’s nonsense. He isn’t touching actual events with a ten-foot pole. He isn’t doing journalism himself. But the audience must think he is.
“Washington has been the scene of many battles. But the current tussle at the top of the fiscal cliff is becoming an exercise in outrage on both sides. Today, behind closed doors…”
Some anchors are managing editors of their own broadcasts. That means they sit around like newspaper editors and listen to lesser editors present the stories of the day. The anchors ask questions and pick and choose which pieces they’ll cover on the evening news, and they decide the sequence, but their hands never touch the events themselves.
It’s more illusion. A well-trained and literate high-school sophomore from Nome could go on air, with a decent haircut, and read the news.
But backed up by expert technicians, a good set decorator, and a pro make-up person, Williams, Pelley, and Sawyer will give you the kind of living fiction that has become its own genre.
The audience is delivered clues about what they are supposed to feel at every turn in the road, and they respond with their own unalloyed faith.
When Paddy Chaevsky wrote the definitive film about news, Network, he had his anchor, Howard Beale, break from the format and tell people to stick their heads out of their windows and shout, “I’m as mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore!”
Most people forget that Beale, with the highest ratings in news history, went on to host his own hybrid program, after the news division was turned over to the entertainment wing of the network. And this new show portrayed Beale as a kind of mesmerizing (wacko) priest, a religious figure.
The audience’s faith in the anchor was magnified.
Then, when confronted by a superior priest, Arthur Jensen, chairman of the holding company that owns the network, Beale learns that all of society is organized as one interlocked forever-corporation, and the universe itself wants it that way.
Beale succumbs and falls under Jensen’s spell. The anchor who hypnotizes millions of people every night becomes the hypnotized subject.
Today’s elite anchors have this dual aspect. They control minds and they also put themselves in a mind-controlled state, in order to believe in what they are doing. They don’t need an Arthur Jensen. It’s all self-inflicted. That’s one step better.
No need to censor stories from above. The anchors have a finely honed sense of what is permissible and what isn’t.
The mind-control flicker machine runs on its own.
In early human societies, the story teller was a principal figure. He wove the tribe’s experiences into a coherent whole, and built new layers of cosmology. Later, story tellers formed an elite priest caste and spun official metaphysical doctrine.
Today, people feel the same need for narrators. They are the anchors. Although these front men for the news no longer use metaphysics to control the masses, they do covertly obey the old rule: tell only part of story.
Guard the rest from public view.
In ancient times, the rationale for hiding key secrets was explained in terms of stages of privileged initiations into “the magic.” Today, we are led to believe our news narrators are giving us everything there is. Other than their stories, there is nothing. So in this secular media religion, we have two choices: swallow the reality, or face a vacuum.
Most viewers still accept that premise.
Their bottomless need for a story teller survives.