September 19, 2006
-- by John Emerson
The dominance of TV means that the US is increasingly ruled by an oral tradition. In an oral tradition inconvenient facts can be disappeared, and the past can be bent to present needs. A true oral tradition is uncheckable; you just have different memorized versions of the "text". (The book 1984 described a deliberate attempt to return a literate tradition, with checkable records, to orality.)
Archiving TV helps some, the way Media Matters does it, but people who are primarily TV creatures, like Bush or his spokespeople, are completely brazen about forgetting what they said last week. In the TV oral tradition, if it sounds good it's true.
I think that this is as big a factor as "relativism" in the decline of critical thinking.
Already, by now, things said in 2003 are in the distant past. For one example -- remember RAWA? The women who bore witness against the Taliban? They still exist, and they're unhappy with the US and with their new Afghan overlords, but they're no longer on TV because they aren't needed any more.
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