Tabloid America: Myth-Making, Mythology and Sensationalism

I'm not making this up, but I wish I was. After my recent STR column Let Us Now Thank Lynndie England went to the top of Google, the fringe element who usually follow the party line of Fox News and talk radio wrote me--shocked, shocked!--that I would resort to mythological or cult icons to make my point. Well, the cult icons who inhabit the select places of power, like large and stupid flightless birds, have simply invited the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune.

If my mosquito sting of criticism was too painful to some Googlers, then stay out of the malarial pesthole you've help create. When the government's foreign policy is cruel, capricious, sleazy and indefensible, those who defend it are sleazier, deserving of neither sympathy nor manners. The defense of liberty requires all the tools at hand, even the use of weird, mythological metaphors and comparisons of power-mad politicos to the demented entrepreneurs of Jurassic Park. If you can't stand the Gorefest you happily created, stay out of the Bush--or let the velociraptors feast!

One writer who used the name SatinLatinlover (I kid you not)--lambasted me thus: "Your comments are so full of exaggerations, lurid hyperbole, and salacious rumors taken for fact, that they belong in the realm of 'yellow journalism' that was once thought to be extinct in the civilized world." Another e-mailer, a broker, suggested to me: "Tone down your zealotry and focus on your writing. Your recent piece about Lynndie England was poorly constructed and badly written. All in all, well below even mediocre journalistic standards."

Gee, was it because, in my "mediocre journalistic standards," I dared to quote the remarks of noted fabricator Donald Rumsfeld as he spoke them to respected, conservative columnist Kathleen Parker? Or was it the comparison of Ann Coulter to a mythical succubus? Certainly the succubus personifies the flesh-eating, parasitic qualities of the media supporters of the "war on terror." Okay, I admit I was wrong and way out of line when I compared my attractive peers to "a lewd female demon or goblin which takes on the illusory appearance of a female human being and seeks sexual intercourse with men, usually while they are asleep," and I apologize. I should have actually compared these photogenic cheerleaders of war--Ms. Coulter, Parker, et al--to that wonderful bird of prey, the harpy eagle, mythical seizer of dead souls.

But why must I--distressed bird watchers may ask--slander a wonderful bird, when what we are witnessing on a massive scale, in Tabloid America, is the seizing of living souls, not to mention bodies, in a naked abuse of power disguised as myth-making. Certainly the Greeks attacking Troy never disguised their Wooden Horse as democracy, but that's what we have foisted off on the Iraqis--an enormous wooden horse disguised as democracy holding 150,000 occupiers.

Truly, the mythological bird of Greek legend was a chickadee compared to the highly paid tabloid journalists who swoop over mainstream American media, plucking bodies to line their nests while ignoring the stench of rotting corpses inhabiting Washington.

How many of these so-called polite columnists, with an audience a thousand times greater than mine--Safire, Friedman, Coulter and Will--have the guts or fortitude to examine the sensational death of Nick Berg objectively rather than inflaming the passions of the masses? How many highly paid pundits like Parker will even dare approach the stinking carcass of discrepancy and suggest the murder of Nick Berg is very suspicious?

The tabloid aspect of Nick Berg's death and dismemberment is being shouted across the airwaves, exploding across acres of newsprint, but hardly spoken are the sinister undertones. None dare call it conspiracy except here on the 'Net, home to "wackos . . . the insane . . . or conspiracy nuts," as I've been called.

We Cassandras of the last bastion of independent thought (the internet), exercising our free speech while we still have it, predicted the unfolding disaster over a year ago, some even longer, while the hired shills of polite journalism maintained a Sphinx-like silence. But the Sphinx dashed herself to pieces when one brave man confronted this fearsome beast and answered the riddle that had perplexed other mortals. What shall happen when thousands of brave men confront her?

Now our American Sphinx--the vast state and the state-supported media--when confronted with their riddle exposed, eat crow while cackling surprise at the barbarity of war and the "pornography" of a few images escaping from there.

"The tip of the iceberg," we are enticed, titillated and teased by the polite tabloid media (details at eleven), while they spin the news and views, censoring the most horrendous images, which would of course tip the iceberg over and drown everyone who supported it.

Never an apology in print, or self-condemnation, have we heard from these harpies, the "personifications of whirlwinds or storm winds--the swiftness and suddenness of winds being one of their chief characteristics." Instead they cluck and murmur, accusing others of treason without looking in the mirror, offering more invented lies that pass for journalism. "They were called the hounds of Zeus and caused human beings to disappear without a trace . . . . Their faces were pale and they had long claws for snatching food or individuals." Even Greek mythology couldn't invent the savage, bloodthirsty beast such as the one that roosts above our nation, with wings outspread.

The true tabloid journalism--and the tabloid government which benefits by its unswerving support--spawns terrorism to further its agenda. And damn if it doesn't sell newspapers! Nick Berg probably helped sell several thousand extra copies of the worst tabloid in America, The New York Post. Berg's death, and the mysterious circumstances surrounding it, will hardly be questioned by the Post, in the unrestrained calls for revenge and the furtherance of unrestricted American imperialism.

The New York Post is the Medusa of U.S. journalism, a tabloid so poisonous, so vile, so undisguised in its lockstep support of Zionism, that one wonders how many New Yorkers take it seriously. But Rush Limbaugh, a walking, talking tabloid in human form, is taken seriously by millions, so readership of "yellow journalism . . . once thought to be extinct" never died but morphed into a mythical beast even harder to kill than Medusa, the Hydra.

That vast, unquenchable network, the pornographers of power, like all abusers everywhere, exist in denial. The sex slaves they have kept locked in the cellar--and how does Abu Ghraib differ from sex slaves held captive and naked in someone's basement?--should shock all decent people, but we are told this is the handiwork of a few reservists and not official state policy! Bullshit. Who besides old US Army veteran Charley Reese has the temerity to hold up the mirror to our self-delusion and say, Yup, that's us?

"Not representative of America's true values . . . Oh? Which country has an $8 billion pornography industry? You can see stuff as raunchy as those pictures on cable television, on a zillion Internet porn sites and sometimes in gay pride parades," says Reese, with a genuine indignation. "Whose commercial entertainment industry thinks the only things that sell are sex and violence? Which country has the largest prison population in the world? Which country, in 1999, had more than 15,000 murders and 89,000 forcible rapes?"

The tabloid American government, like our tabloid society, embraces the imagery when it supports the jingoism, and suppresses it when it doesn't. True Lies, tabloid movie-making at its best and worst, was a huge hit. But tabloid imagery, like the orgiastic images of beaten and submissive, naked prisoners apparently encouraged by the upper-echelon interrogators but now conveniently denied, has a way of showing those who created it in a far worse light than those unfortunates shown in humiliated poses. Our tabloid behavior all over the world--encouraged or condoned or overlooked by Washington and those media apologists--has at last caught up to us.

Modern myth-making, the creating of demons and monsters and heroes, is a full time job in any state propaganda machine, and ours is no different. But then, so too is the exploding of myths and slaying of monsters and demons. Cheap tabloids like the aforementioned New York Post inflame or entertain the masses, but ancient myths offered moral lessons that our current tabloid scribes tactfully avoid. But Homer, being blind, was never seduced by huge sums of shadowy money or the beckonings of illicit power.

Said noted gadfly Gore Vidal, "The corporate grip on opinion in the United States is one of the wonders of the Western world. No First World country has ever managed to eliminate so entirely from its media all objectivity--much less dissent. " Certainly no other city in the civilized world would swallow the government explanation for 911, as has New York City, without skeptical dissent. The curious, criminal silence of the New York media into the questionable (dis)information about the attack is pathetic but predictable.

Lastly, Thoreau, who knew a thing or two about the utter nonsense of American newspapers and the lessons of Greek mythology, wrote, "The twelve labors of Hercules were trifling in comparison with those which my neighbors have undertaken; for they were only twelve, and had an end; but I could never see that these men slew or captured any monster or finished any labor. They have no friend Iolaus to burn with a hot iron the root of the hydra's head, but as soon as one head is crushed, two spring up."

Hydra is the great machinery of the modern state, and anyone who opposes the bloody waste, official lies and corruption of the state is, to some measure, Hercules. Thus far, in the last year or so, nearly 1,000 Americans, 20,000 Iraqis and $250 billion has been wasted on the war in Iraq. This does not include the vast number of wounded or mentally damaged victims on both sides of the conflict, nor does it include the half million other young victims to sanctions in the 12 years prior to the war. Thus, If I bruised the feelings of anyone by my writing--delicate Ann Coulter fans for example--I wear it like a badge. I would be remiss if I restrained myself.

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Douglas Herman's picture
Columns on STR: 149

Award winning artist, photographer and freelance journalist, Douglas Herman can be found wandering the back roads of America. Doug authored the political crime thriller, The Guns of Dallas  and wrote and directed the Independent feature film,Throwing Caution to the Windnaturally a "road movie," and credits STR for giving him the impetus to write well, both provocatively and entertainingly. A longtime gypsy, Doug completed a 10,000 mile circumnavigation of North America, by bicycle, at the age of 35, and still wanders between Bullhead City, Arizona and Kodiak, Alaska with forays frequently into the so-called civilized world of Greater LA. Write him at Roadmovie2 @