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Marc Dion
Marc Dion
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James Foley Was a Hack

Comment

Every now and then, some unwise high school teacher will invite me to come speak to his/her journalism class.

"It's all crap," I tell them. "Everything in the paper is lies."

They're not surprised. Many of the have been taught this by their parents, people who like to "do their own research" on the Internet.

"If everything we write is biased," I say, "why do governments keep killing reporters? Why not just buy us off?"

They never have an answer. They are 17 and magnificently unafraid of death.

Islamic militants beheaded journalist James Foley, giving him a medieval death in a digital age, which tells you from where their thinking comes.

"How do you like your blueeyed boy Mister Death," poet e.e. cummings famously asked.

Less likely to turn the famous phrase, I ask, how do you like your biased news media, bleeding on the sand?

Poor Foley, who apparently wasn't satisfied with the huge sums of hush and bribe money offered daily to journalists of all kinds. Poor Foley, who, childlike, continued to point his lens at things, continued to go and find out and be damned, a phrase that should be graven in stone over the door to every newspaper.

And you, stay at home yappers who know "what really happens" in journalism, you one viewpoint fools who get your news from Facebook, do you know James Foley?

Was he the "biased" news media? Was he the "lamestream" media? Was he one of those "cowards" who "hide behind the First Amendment?" A shill for the right-wing? For the left? Did he mislead we the people even unto death? Was he made redundant by bloggers who lift all their facts from newspapers? Was he made redundant by Photoshopped pictures proving whatever the Photoshopper believes? A backward believer in old-fashioned, dead-tree journalism?

Names get slung at reporters every day by people who believe the epitome of smartness is to say that everything is a lie.

If you can say that, you can twist up one side of your mouth and say, "Newspapers don't print the real facts," and you sound so smart it's a wonder they don't put you in charge of some university somewhere.

But do you know James Foley? Some warrior for the faith cut Foley's head off because he went to find truth, to see it and send it back to people who snicker at the very mention of "journalistic ethics," those same people who think quarterbacks are heroes.

Nothing will ever grow in the sand watered by James Foley's blood, because there are some places where nothing ever grows — the way curiosity and the urge to think will never take root in some minds.

And next week, one of the Kardashians will do something distasteful and Foley will be gone from your mind, though you will still remember that all journalists are "biased hacks."

There goes your boy.

To find out more about Marc Dion and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit www.creators.com

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Comments

7 Comments | Post Comment
Sir;.. People do not write non fiction with the aim of telling the truth. Once the first little falsehood or mistake is made the critical mind can simply toss out as untrue what may be mostly true. If you want to tell the truth you must write fiction because there the standards of truth are lax, and so big brush truth may be painted with fingers clearly crossed. if you want to tell the truth it is possible to at least approach truth, if that is ones desire. When truth is not the desire, then communication is not the desire since truth communication. If you look at the stories 1984, and animal farm, you can see truth because truth is deliberatly made a character. I think the whole idea of truth should be tossed across the board. I am not telling the truth. I dare not approach the temple of truth unwashed, and if I had water it would quench my thirst. Instead; challenge all truth, and follow all reasoning until it leads in a circle. Do not expect the truth from anyone bound to make a buck on the stupidity and gullibility of the rubes. Never trust a carney, trust less a minister; and trust a politician only as far as you can toss them, and that is a fair distance off a bridge.
Rest assured that I will never ask anyone to tell the truth. Out of many competing theories and narratives we can construct a vision of truth, more or less true to reality. Ones ability to comprehend will exactly equal the true knowledge one brings to the scene. Knowledge of history gives the ability to recognize the truth of today. And that is a part of the problem. No one sees the truth so much as they recognize it. if you have never met the beast; the truth is invisible.
Sir; I would absolutely give up on the urge to think. There is no such thing. The first man out of the trees was driven to think, and it is entirely and act of desparation. You have to envy the Christian their faith in the nonsense they are told. A set explanation is worth a hundred thousand words to a child without the time to make a scientific exploration into the causes of it all. There was once a time when a myth served humanity better than curiosity. If curiosity is more essential today, it is out of recognition of the failure of myth to explain anything. There are myths of all sort that we must examine and abandon, and not because we want to; but because we must when these do not serve our interest. Then it becomes obvious that many if not all people have not even the most basic elements of philosophy to engage in thought in an organized and effective manor. How many people will define their terms. How many understand identity or conservation. There are some fraction who grasp silogisms, and beyond that, less still who can understand inductive or deductive reasoning. It is pitiful, but this sort of ignorance was bred into us, and is not natural.
Thanks...Sweeney
Comment: #1
Posted by: James A, Sweeney
Thu Aug 21, 2014 6:29 PM
All the little reporters telling us how tough their lives are, how honest they are, how hard it is to tell the truth to the Average Joe, swilling beer and leering at Kim Kardashian. Easy to imagine people killed in a war zone, but unfathomable that anyone would dare touch a reporter. And everybody talking down journalists, saying they aren't fair, they're biased, they're politically motivated, they have an agenda. People just don't understand how difficult it is to be a journalist these days. And go around accusing reporters of horrible things, why I'm incensed.

Say all reporters were cops. One day they were driving the beat and these two kids were walking down the middle of the street. That's illegal, so the reporter (cop) has to ask them to move along. The kids become bellicose and things quickly escalate into an attack on the reporter (cop). At the end of the story one of the kids, 6 foot four, 290 pounds, lays dead. The reporter (cop) has a busted eye socket and lays in a hospital for 8 days. Man, this reporter has been beat up bad.

Now everybody stops talking about Kim Kardashian and starts calling the reporter a raaacist. How he must have gone out that morning looking for an African-American to kill. How all reporters are looking to shoot hyphenated Americans every day. In this heated atmosphere someone publishes the reporters name and address. The reporter now fears for his life and that of his family. Before all of the evidence is in, politicians and the TV is screaming there will be no peace until there is an indictment of the reporter. Everybody starts using this reporter, this journalist, as an example of what is wrong with America, with law enforcement, with raaace relations. And do you know that even when some evidence comes in that the journalist was not out for blood, that the gentle giant had just roughed up a shopkeeper, everybody says that doesn't matter, you can't tell that story because it ruins the story we want to tell. They might not want to behead this journalist, but they sure as hell want his head on a stake no matter the truth, because they need to justify a certain point of view. Let's personalize this journalist by giving him a name, say Darren Wilson. This reporter's name, no matter the outcome of any trial, will always be used in contempt by certain members of the community, some of them with loud voices that are broadcast or printed all over the country. Go ahead, Marc, tell me what you think of the name Robert Zimmerman. A name that will live in infamy, right? Well now we got two names to sit our lazy intellectual butts on whenever there is a shooting death among the 350 million Americans that involves a white shooter and a Hyphenated American. And don't forger, ALL reporters must be called out for their raaacism because, after all, look what one of them did to this poor gentle giant who only wanted to steal cigars to make blunts with.

The reporter will live, but his life will be worth nothing in the future. There will be national stories on important anniversaries, such as the first, the fifth, and the tenth. These stories will drag out the reporters name and recall how his shooting of an innocent caused a riot in Ferguson twenty five years ago today. Facts won't matter will they?

They never did.
Comment: #2
Posted by: Tom
Fri Aug 22, 2014 6:37 AM
Re: Tom;... The privilage of the press which comes out of the rights of the people has been as big a bust as property and religious privilage. We do not have the village press. We have the corporate press; and the reason more people are forced to speak up in private, in public, on the internet, and never take their eyes off the news is because press privilage as not achieved any desired goal. We think, or perhaps thought, that granting extra privilages to certain groups would in time gain us all greater freedom. Press, property and religion have expanded their gains and reduced our gain to zero. Worst of all; they count on these privilages as though they are the most natural thing, and never need go to the people, hat in hand and ask for permission. Every effective tool of organized labor was denied on the basis of property rights. Has the condition of labor improved there-by? Today even the power of the government to regulate the influence of money in elections has been denied on the basis of property right. This privilage is a mere abstraction, but the needs of the people to access and influence government is essential to any democracy, and very real. I am all for giving the owners and controllers of wealth everything they desire so the people will sooner see they must take all back; but to take all back they must trash the goverment that finds itself powerless against press, and property and church.
There was a time about a thousand years ago now, when the church asserted its authority over society because as the best educated and organized, it could. Still they took as their realm the spiritual affairs of mankind, and they left to government the temporal affairs of society. We cannot stop the interference of the church in our society because our constitution and government give us no such power. Still; if the people had found it necessary to uproot the churches in order to change their forms of government, then nothing would have changed. The rich and the religious would never have cut the people into democracy if they had had a choice. Religious freedom follows from every other sort of freedom, but these privilaged and privilaged classes which will not keep to their places, -but always exercise their power over the whole people, and often, against the will of the people. From the perspective of the religious, with the world at an end, there is no point to a government with a long term view of social good. This is all wrong. It should be government that has the short term temporal view, and the churches that have a vision of eternity. It is only because of their grasping for power, the fact that they demand ignorance to expedite faith, that they so much demand political power; and do so -terrible at it- because they reject reason.
There are many presumptions associated with press privilage, and one of them is that it is possible to know; and the other that it is possible to care. The happiness that goes along with every healthy society is missing here. People need to watch the news because they dare not take their eyes of government which no one trusts; But they have ever less time to do so because the quest for profit has prostrated so many we can barely stand. At some point, the people surrender the obligation to care for their own affairs, and self govern; and so abdicate their power as citizens in order to go with the flow. That is what these privilages have done for us; made us all the poorer in freedom, and having to contest with the privilage for every right and power we possess.
Tom; ... Look at how often press had drummed us into war with little thought for the consequences. While expected to educate and inform the public they have been just as reticent to devulge the facts. In fact; they very often see things exactly and their corporate masters would have them see things, so their limited view of truth equals they limited imaginations and insight. When they should be decrying the want of democracy and the want of common knowledge necessary to make democracy a success, they instead hustle us into conflict hoping in misery to make their meat.
I have at least one copy of with Lawrence of Arabia by Lowell Thomas, who was still alive in my youth. Does anyone read this stuff? Because he was talking of the Wahabis, and the new militant spirit of Islam. When reporting is entirely rotten it is exploited, and when it is decent, it is ignored. Maybe the problem is not in our stars, but that everyone wants to be a star, and stars of what? How many masters of misery and human degradation do we actually need? To me, the first rule of journalism is don't be the news. It is safe to say Mr. Foley broke that one but good.
Thanks...Sweeney
Comment: #3
Posted by: James A, Sweeney
Fri Aug 22, 2014 11:27 AM
"To me, the first rule of journalism is don't be the news."

I like that, you old Marxist you!
Tom

Comment: #4
Posted by: Tom
Fri Aug 22, 2014 12:35 PM
Re: Tom;.. Thanks Tom; but reading and understanding marx doesn't make anyone a Marxist. Isms are not the answer. People are the answer. Since people are near impossible to change, people adapt to change their external reality. If they are formally conscious, as those who signed the declaration of independence were, then you can focus your effort where it will do the best good, changing only what most demands change. If I say capitalism does not work, it does not mean that communism does. All of humanity was once communist and that is how all primitive people survived. It would be extremely naive to think nothing else but this form of economy has changed. A lot of thing have changed, including humanity. Regardless of the ideal, it is wrong to try to form people to the ideal when it is so easy to change the form to fit the people. I recognize that our forms are failing. That does not give me the right to impose ideal or less than ideal forms on anyone. People can make their own rules and their own forms. Too many societies died of their broken forms. The Roman form of government went to its grave and dragged the people in after it. Why suffer that. Forms are changed all the time, and then, change is ever attended with great anxiety. But this is not rocket science, or brain surgery, but simply a tire change. If we will not let our failing forms drag us down, we only have to concentrate our efforts in changing the essential elements of this society to our liking.
Thanks... Sweeney
Comment: #5
Posted by: James A, Sweeney
Fri Aug 22, 2014 2:27 PM
Mr. Foley was brave or foolish depending on your point of view. But it was the media cheer leading George W. Bush's invasion that ultimately led to his death.
Comment: #6
Posted by: Buzzcook
Sun Aug 24, 2014 11:15 AM
Oooh, yeah Bush's fault and raaacist.
Comment: #7
Posted by: Tom
Sun Aug 24, 2014 5:57 PM
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