Clinton to Elmo: You’re Next!
Sesame Street Lahore targeted in latest drone fiasco; Elmo snuffed after daring SEAL raid; Oscar the Grouch pepper-sprayed by police during Occupy Waste Department protest.
Many kinds of scurrilous slurs and humorous parallels can be drawn when State takes on one of Pakistan’s few attempts at tolerant children’s programming. Perhaps more closely linked to the truth, the Amazing Mumford makes foreign funds disappear – financial irregularities supposedly having prompted the US State Department to cut the show’s funding, though in keeping with the rest of its policies in the country it has declined to provide any details or evidence.
All very fresh and ha-ha, I’m sure, the tragedy lying in the idea that the government is very quick to can an educational programme that tries to foster new ideas in the minds of Pakistani children (albeit, ones with access to television) while its drone program – one shown to be susceptible to its own, far more lethal irregularities as the things rain death upon foe and suspected foe and foe’s children alike – flutters on silently overhead into its eighth year. Granted, the State Department shows responsibility in curtailing further funding in the face of fiscal misuse or embezzlement. Truly, the murky world of international nonprofits can from a financial standpoint be a disappointing bit of hit and miss; when in doubt, pull outbeing a most reasonable motto.
But this article isn’t about Sesame Street, or Pakistan, the Obama administration, drone strikes, civilian casualties, legal barriers to assassination or any of that. Rather, it’s become about periphery articles in general, about spider bites, killer cars, bra-fastened pistol holsters and celebrities’ genes. I’m a BBC reader most days, punctuated by a weekly injection of the Economist. I like articles that are cleanly written, a little tongue-in-cheek and generally straight-forward, without leading editorializations. (Yes, yes, a stone I cast quite often.) But the ghost of Hearst wanders these electronic halls, a yellow taint I can’t but notice on even the most inimitable of media giants’ websites; CNN to an extent, with MSNBC and FOX wrangling in their own annex of hyperbole. Moreso than any headline, it’s the deluge of peripheral articles that paint the global picture these diatribes envision.
So I saw the Sesame Street blurb on my morning BBC, thought up this article, then (as is my wont) skulked around online for nearabout as much of the wealth of facts and opinions on the subject as the net makes available. I’d already had Mumford on my mind – the snide little allusions and colourful alliteration in these DDA articles are always mine – but wanted to know a bit more about the otherwise foggy details surrounding the embezzlement. Eventually (because once in a while one dares ask) I found myself drawn to ask what FOX thinks about the matter, liberal agendas and so forth. Oddly enough, their article was even skivvier than the others.
A disappointment, the better part of myself prepared to be offended all for naught… which is why I bothered to notice the Recommended Stories below, why the idea of peripheral agendas even came up at all. Every site seems to have its bogeymen. FOX is filled with deadbeat doctors and would-be pedophiles, with searing celebrity sendups and the odd Obama piece; American flags and monkeyshines, a news outlet for the hard of thinking. But MSNBC is scarcely better, mongering simplex fears of corporate giants and intelligence agencies, highlighting in equal measures Israeli excess and the social gains of the American housedog. And CNN- rather than holding any particular stance, in an all-American fashion lets its Latest News column run twenty-seven stories deep (see more!) spanning most every asinine subject and employing even the FOXiest of hooklines to draw in readers.
Alluding to a previous metaphor, the content of these Other Stories articles are the pixelated fragments of a larger ideological paint-by-numbers, a war of information being fought not just for the left or right (or vaguely-defined ‘center’) mind, but for the processes of thinking for oneself and taking in other opinions. And this war is not being waged with simple ham-fisted content, but with the very articles readers are allowed to read. Shenanigans are afoot, ado being made about possibly nothing – though perhaps I’m making nothing of a great deal.
Anyway, dear dirty readers, arm yourselves with knowledge; read Salon.com and think of Kansas!
Dan Rudy is a part-time writer and fustigative snob, living in Portland OR in order to exacerbate a developing rheumatism. He occasionally creates things forsluffabout.com.