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Cultural versus economic issues, GOP candidates, the Arab Spring, Iran, Israel, Syria, Afghanistan, the news, headlines, lead story, reporters, foreign correspondents, the editorial page, CNN, FOX, ABC, NBC, CBS, New York Times, Washington Post.

Whether or not you give it much serious thought, media impact our opinions every day.

Media has several definitions in the American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, among them: “media, plural of medium; a means of mass communication, such as newspapers, magazines, radio, television, or the Internet; the group of journalists and others who constitute the communications industry and profession.”

Now, if you think most of what you see on TV, read in the print media or hear on radio is there without conscious design, or that those annoying commercials are simply there to inform you, then the free press – our unbiased media – has been extraordinarily successful in the brainwashing of America. Strong words?

You have, of course, observed that any criticism of the liberal (as opposed to conservative) media elite generates a great hue and cry of “attempts to muzzle the media!” Expensive attorneys assault, in court, the critics in a vigorous defense of the freedom of the press. “It is clear,” they will argue, “that the intent of the First Amendment is to provide for a free press, contributing to the freedom of the citizenry.”

Unfortunately, today the original intent of the Founding Fathers has been subverted by a new doctrine – political correctness – originated by the left, and “freedom of the press” has regrettably become a means of propagating the viewpoint that only those tenets held dear by certain segments of our society should be reported as news. Contrary viewpoints must be labeled and reported not as news, but as the opinions of fringe groups, right-wingers or conservatives (not to be confused with society at large). Foremost among these fringe groups are any Bible believers – Jew or Christian. Moral absolutes are not acceptable, and only the rights of those people who are liberated from those antiquated thought patterns are protected by the First Amendment.

Conservatives – you know, “those dangerous fanatics” who want to keep prayer and the Pledge of Allegiance in our schools – are always labeled right-wingers and are likened to terrorists who blow up buildings, dispatch suicide bombers and otherwise abrogate, or infringe upon, the rights of the enlightened. Pastors and other religious extremists who believe the outmoded concept of sin and the murder of the unborn are wrong are promptly labeled “fundamentalists” (as in Taliban or al-Qaida).

Conservative (almost always Republican) politicians – those who question today’s enlightened thought concepts – are invariably dismissed as “narrow-minded,” “inflexible” or “just plain dumb.” (Oh, almost forgot, when all else fails don’t forget that old evergreen label: “racist.”)

And, of course, it is only the hopelessly irrational people, like some of you, who object to alternative lifestyles like same-sex marriage, LGBTIQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex, Questioning) people, and who would dispute NAMBLA (North American Man Boy Love Association) and now MAA (Minor-Attracted Adults – formerly known as pedophiles). Obviously, you are unaware that these are only individuals exercising the modern evolution of their freedom of thought.

You hopelessly out-of-step parents who object to these alternative lifestyles being forced upon your grade-school children are criticized, harshly, I might add, and often banned from public expressions of outrage and/or charged by the courts to “cease and desist.”

Some will protest, “You are overstating the case. The media does not have that kind of influence.” And, of course, the media elites will insist (publicly), “We are innocent of the charge. People are not unduly influenced by the media.”

Really? Here’s a question for you: Would you pay a morning news program host $17 million just because you had the money? Or $15 million, $10 million and $8 million (respectively) to three TV news anchors because they were pleasant people? Or fire them if ratings went down? How about an average cost of $3.5 million for a 60-second ad on Super Bowl XLVI, with one ad in particular costing $4 million?!

Some of you may remember a program called “Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?” The average cost of a 30-second commercial on that program was $250,000. On another program called “ER,” that same 30-second spot was in excess of $600,000. Why pay these unbelievable prices for people and TV spots? Because they influence people to think or act a certain way. “Oh, c’mon, Kinchlow. They have no real effect. They don’t influence people’s behavior.” Au contraire, mon ami!

Almost $1.5 billion has been spent on Super Bowl ads since 1988. Why? During Super Bowl XLV, an unknown product was advertised in one 30-second commercial. The result? Product sales went from 10 orders to 6,000 orders per day! Furthermore, according to a report from the University of Wisconsin, “Companies that buy Super Bowl ads … end up outperforming the S&P 500 during the subsequent week.”

It seems to me that if you and I were not influenced by what we see and hear in media, advertisers and politicians would not spend literally hundreds of millions of dollars on media exposure. According to reports, more than $2 billion was spent in the 2008 presidential race (more than $740 million by the Obama campaign alone), and there have been estimates that Obama will raise and spend $1 billion on this year’s campaign.

One more thought: On the wild chance that media do influence thought and action, I have another question for you: When was the last time you saw a program, read an article in a national publication, heard a national newscast or saw a “special” containing something really upbeat, positive and encouraging on the greatness of America, the nuclear family and a hopeful future?

Kind of makes you wonder which America the public media belong to, doesn’t it?

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