Monday, June 16, 2008

The Messenger Is the Message (Butler Shaffer)

Butler Shaffer on the media's obsession with the death of Tim Russert:

As I write these words, we are into the third day of a seemingly endless period of mourning for Tim Russert. While he seemed to be a likable fellow – in a conventional sort of way – and I can sympathize with his family, friends, and colleagues over his loss, there is something telling about the state of journalism in this country in the way his death is being transformed into a national tragedy. Here in Hollywood, the demise of even the most prominent of the prominent stars does not merit the media’s nonstop observance such as we are witnessing not only from Mr. Russert’s network, but from others as well.

This endless electronic eulogy brings to mind the classic observation of Marshall McLuhan: "the medium is the message." A centrally-directed, vertically-structured society requires a uniformity of thought in order to maintain a collective commitment. This requires a continuing indoctrination in the values and purposes of the ruling establishment.

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