Edge of Apocalypse: pages 141-144 (Chapter Twenty-Six)
Welcome to more media manipulation, as perceived in this bizarro world created by LaHaye and Parshall. Readers will recall that in past chapters, Josh Jordan was portrayed as a man out for his own wallet, even though the book claims him to be a 100% RTP*. We get introduced to LaHaye’s favorite news agency, Global News Network. Buck Willams would probably feel right at home here, I think. 😛
“As desk manager for the Global News Network’s Los Angeles studio, Jerry [Hendrickson] had just finished reading the thick transcript of congressional testimony. It was stunning. Now he was on the horns of a dilemma. He glanced at his watch. Bob Kosterman, the executive vice president of the network, should have left his private lunch in Washington with Vice President Tulrude at the Executive Mansion about five minutes ago. Jerry was scheduled to call Bob right about now, while Kosterman was alone inside the limo furnished by the administration and being driven back to the airport.”
(additions are mine)
Notice that the Vice-President, who seems to be the bizarro counterpart to Dick Cheney as the alleged mover and shaker of the Administration, is lunching with a media magnate. Now, this kind of closeness between the media and the Republican party would be almost a non-event, but for LaHaye and Parshall to believe this of Democrats? Mmmmmmkay.
During the phone call, we get some interesting revelations:
“‘Right. Well, I think we’ve been casting this whole story in a slightly…uh…misdirected fashion. This Jordan guy is not squeezing the Pentagon for a better business deal. Not at all. It says right here the real reason he’s reluctant to disclose all his research on the RTS design is–‘
But Kosterman wouldn’t let him finish. ‘Jerry, are you accusing your own network of creating a false story?’
[ … ]
‘A transcript from a closed congressional committee investigating high-level national security issues? You realize how much trouble we could be in if we publish that?’
‘But Mr. Kosterman, we published that original leaked report from the committee about Jordan defying Congress. And it now appears that the slant of the story as we reported it was all wrong–‘
‘No, it wasn’t. You said yourself we didn’t create a false story.’
‘Well, not intentionally, no. But it appears now that the accuracy of-‘
‘Jerry. Do not–I repeat–do not put anything from that transcript on our web-news service. Anywhere. At anytime. Is that clear?’
‘And deliver that transcript immediately to my executive assistant. And don’t make any copies.'”
Well, well, well.
So a media bigwig is conspiring to deep-six a story. Tsk, tsk, tsk.
The fact is, though, is that Jordan’s behavior before a Congressional committee could be considered at the very least borderline rude. That is not in dispute, I don’t think. As commenters to this blog have noted, the entire media and Congressional circus over this RTS-RGS thing is a complete farce because there would have been documentation, somewhere, proving that a contract had been let out to tender, and that Jordan’s company had been the successful bidder.
So even if the entire details of it were classified, there would still be some kind of paper trail indicating that the device existed, and this could be used to reverse engineer the thing if a foreign power really wanted it.
Jordan’s prima-donna-ing thus forces equslly implausible behavior in other people linked in with this story, as witness the US Administration acting contrary to the security of the nation, both by attempting to barter the RGS-RTS, and by sinking a media story prejudicial to the interests of the Administration. I note that in previous chapters the ridiculousness of this idea LaHaye and Parshall have about the level of Democratic command-and-control over media message compared to the Republican.
Some tl;dr rambling follows. I’ll try to just hit the highlights, since this has a final point that LaHaye and Parshall are apparently making by means of the conspiracy-theory vehicle of digital conversion.
“Jerry was there back during the 2009-10 transition when all of America’s television stations, responding to the requirement of the federal government, had to convert from the old analogue signal system to a digital format. From a technical standpoint, that one made sense and seemed to work reasonably well for the consumers. So when several years later a second media ‘conversion’ was ordered by the U.S. government, most Americans weren’t too upset. They had seen it all before. Of course, at the time, some media watchers and pundits had warned about the potential for an ugly monopoly developing after that media transition. Jerry agreed.”
The shadowy second “conversion” involves, apparently, a switch to Internet-based delivery which would shift bandwidth usage from dedicated fiber-optic cable provided by the cable TV company to the Internet backbone and ISPs, which somewhat makes sense given that there is a considerable amount of “dark fiber” that is a legacy of the dot-com bubble and continues to be a source of readily available unused bandwidth.
Also, I’d like to note that the specific year given in this book gives us a clue as to when the book likely takes place. Given that Virgil Corland’s advisers have indicated that a Nixon-style program of expansionary fiscal/monetary policy coupled with wage-price controls could be safely handled and halted ten months prior to the “next election”, it’s likely that the book takes place in the year 2014, which would be just after a midterm election and giving Corland a comfortable margin before his Presidential election in late 2016. It could, with equal facility, be assumed to be in the year 2018 for similar reasons.
The stated rationale for the conversion also includes this, besides the usual bumpf about interactive content delivery and what-have-you:
“Besides, the government said it needed to commandeer the old-fashioned ‘over the air’ broadcast spectrum that TV and radio had used for decades so it could be used for other purposes, like emergency services and large transmissions of high-speed technical data to federal agencies, contractors, and industries.”
I’m not sure if LaHaye and Parshall intend this to be a hidden hey-the-government-is-eeeeeeevil message but when conservatives talk about government it seems like there’s never been a government program they liked except when it was a military thing, or when it comes to more ways to throw people in jail.
And now we get to the told-you-so! part:
“By that time almost all of the nation’s newspapers and magazines too had fled to the Internet. The print-publishing world had been facing financial ruin, so going electronic was a matter of survival. Television and radio had converted to a single Internet-based system of transmission; all forms of national news and information had now been transferred over to a single platform: the web. It was as if every media company had booked a ticket for themselves onto the same ocean-going cruise ship. But few people had asked the right questions: like who were the pilots of that vessel, and where was it heading?
Jerry and some of his cronies in the industry could see how it could become a ship of fools. The news conversion to the Internet had created the open door for a monopoly over all news and information that could be exercised by a few huge telecommunications companies.”
You know, this continuing motif of media concentration and monopolization being confronted by LaHaye and Parshall continues to astonish me, because I’ve never seen other right-wing organizations or publications address it at all. It’s just kind of annoying that they only intend to use this to “prove” that their bizarro mirror image of our world is the real version.
“And he didn’t miss, either, the effect of the international takeover. Foreign nations used cleverly disguised sovereign wealth funds to buy up a controlling interest in America’s news networks and the telecoms during the national economic crisis. Jerry would overhear Bob Kosterman’s secretary telling him that the big investors from Paris, Moscow, Beijing, or Bahrain were on the line. He knew it wasn’t just about finance. How could it not seep into the decisions that were being made about what news and talk programs to pull and which ones to keep? The same scenario was happening in every other TV network. And the radio syndicates too.”
And here we get the usual fear-mongering button-pushing with that strange foreigners button getting hammered a few dozen times. The fact that Rupert Murdoch has done this kind of foreign takeover in real life doesn’t seem to have registered in LaHaye’s mind. Or Parshall’s.
To wrap things up, we get the dun-dun-dun ender to this section of the chapter naming that eeeeeeeevil Vice-President as the problem:
“Jerry mouthed to himself the two words he knew were behind what had just happened.
And there you have it, people. Those no-goodnik Democrats want to let good American media get bought up by foreign governments and manipulate the media in as crass a fashion as any Republican has no doubt done.
Next up, we’ll revisit the Round Table with Josh Jordan.
* Real True Patriots