Friday, December 16, 2011

Phenomenology of Indefinite News and Bad Faith

The exercise of a right comes with the responsibility of its exercise, not mere possession. So many people in this country think they have a right to speak freely, but the practical wisdom behind the first amendment is to foster an informed citizenry. Political discourse means nothing if we don't take it upon ourselves to fulfill an epistemic duty to be as informed as possible, and this means to go further than cable news.

Simply due to the phenomenology of the experience, one might find warrant in adopting more options for information. When I watch cable news, I am drawn in to the news anchor, and it is an organic experience from the news anchor to the dearth of content. The news anchor gestures, her voice calculating. She is pretty or he is handsome. The voice is melodic and average; the news anchor cannot be smart--only average in appearance, mannerism and depth of perspective. The news anchor is dressed in business professional suit, and participates in a broadcast alongside the spectator. The broadcast itself feigns a terminable point to which there is no end in site. Therefore, the spectator awaits the announcement and news, and the news anchor unwittingly crafts the discourse to embody its inevitable arrival. Yet, it does not come at all. In politics, though some event might be accomplished; it can always be undone. Conservatives can always undo health care reform. Some event's are too concrete not to arrive, but when they do they are held onto for dear life.  

When there is a lot of build up for some announcement, the camera pans to squeeze every sense of an event's termination. What will be the outcome of Dr. Conrad Murray? Eventually, the jury will exit, announce judgment. For the 24 hour newscycle, it will continue. The camera pans to a panel of experts. These experts will speculate about what is to come next. Even though there is some resolution, there is no resolution for America. He will receive a lighter sentence because California is overridden with inmates already. The Judge will give the maximum penalty in this case claims another. At this point, however, the spectator doesn't know that the news cycle is trying to generate more drama out of an event that generated countless stories before. America's consciousness cannot endure without knowing what will happen, or so the mentality is proffered by cable news. The broadcast attempts to overcome the event's finality in judgment by generating more content of an indefinite future to which the broadcast is headed. If and when that does not work, there is more. 

Later that night, a panel of experts led by a comedian or some pundit will claim an outrageously controversial claim. Pehraps, it is about M. Jackson's race and the fact that Murray is black (or some such nonsense). The claim will be outrageous and its only intent is to generate more emotional drama over the terminable event so as to render aspects of the trial as interminable--that is, until the newscycle finds another story to feed its desire to present content where none exists. In this way, the newscycle doesn't inform. Rarely are facts presented and when they are, there is bias everywhere operating at a subtle level. This is because what holds for political discourse in the United States is nothing more than browbeating ideology. 

So what can be done. For starters, we could teach more philosophy. But obviously, I have an interest in that sort of thing. 

As a citizen, we should expand access to information and make it socially unacceptable for people not to be informed. I don't know how to do this. I am sure this means that while everyone might not want to read the American Political Science Review, they should. 

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