Posted on | August 13, 2013 | 2 Comments
Let’s say you own an auto-glass repair shop.
Doesn’t it make a lot of financial sense to periodically hire a few thugs armed with baseball bats to go out and surreptitiously break a few windshields?
It’s Marketing 101. If you want to sell your product, you’ve gotta create a need.
That simple analogy may be all you need to know about Fox Entertainment’s likely involvement in NBC’s already-controversial Hillary miniseries and, sadly, the entire American Two-Party System™.
Why? Because American politics is little more than a business, and that business is, first and foremost, concerned with the bottom line. And the bottom line depends on shocking controversies, fits of outrage, simple dichotomies and stoking partisan fires.
Unity is boring. But division is hot and sexy and dramatic.
It ignites “consumers” of partisan ideology. It inspires a lot of spending by parties and candidates and SuperPACs on political campaigns and political ads. Ka-ching!
It feeds the political class. Consultants, fundraisers, ad agencies, candidates and political hacks ply their trade, sell their political products, make their ad buys and charge their fees. The grand total for the 2012 election cycle was upwards of $7 billion. Ka-ching!
And, of course, it supports the media. Spending on political ads every two and four years is how local stations often turn a profit and, increasingly, how cable networks pump up revenues. The more they “cover,” talk about and gin-up partisan politics, the better their bottom line. Ka-ching!
Is it any surprise that political “news” now dominates the cable networks?
It’s the cheapest news to produce. It practically comes to you gift-wrapped! Consultants, strategists and politicians will literally walk into the studio and start talking—often free of charge! Political news is continually piped into newsrooms from the wires, from press releases and speeches. And there’s an endless stream of wild statements on Twitter and Facebook and YouTube. You don’t need reporters in the field. Just pull a viral clip from the internet and voilà—insta-controversy!
Talk is cheap. Talking about all those controversies and personalities is really cheap. And that’s no joke. It equals advertising sold with low overhead, and that’s money in the bank.
Considering the way FOX News and MSNBC make their money and hold their surprisingly meager audiences, is there any doubt why NBC and Fox Television Studios are in talks to team up and re-boot the Clinton saga?
Do you hear the sound of breaking glass?
Not only will Fox Television Studios make money from the production and international distribution of NBC’s docu-dramatic Hillary show, but the announcement of this infotainment effort has also effectively kicked off what will be the longest, most expensive Presidential campaign in human history.
No debates yet?
Don’t worry. We’ve got debates about debates!
Unfortunately for the few journalists still toiling away at FOX or NBC, the debates they’re having are with themselves. Chuck Todd, in particular, has voiced his displeasure with the miniseries and its potential impact on NBC News, but he also still thinks there is a “giant firewall” between the news and entertainment divisions.
Alas, it is a distinction without a difference. Politics is a business and there is no business like show business.
Like the wholly-owned folks at NBC, the folks at FOX News cannot really claim independence from the folks at Fox Television Studios. Although Rupert Murdoch engineered a division of print news from the entertainment divisions after the phone hacking scandal, FOX News is officially an asset of 21st Century Fox, not the new News Corp.
Stock splits notwithstanding, the butter on the bread still ends up in the same corporate mouths. The stockholders of both 21st Century Fox and News Corp will benefit mightily from Hillary’s candidacy, from an outrage-inspiring Hillary miniseries and, when all is said and done, from a Hillary presidency.
And that’s the kicker with the whole Two Party System™. No matter who loses, the same people keep on winning. When Bill Clinton shepherded the 1996 Telecommunications Act through Congress and onto his desk, Murdoch’s News Corporation was a big winner. When Bill left his human stain on American politics, FOX News was a big ratings winner. And when Hillary finally became a political candidate, she was fêted by Murdoch at a campaign fundraiser in 2006.
Murdoch doesn’t adhere to ideology. He sells it. The same is true of MSNBC, which tattooed every anti-Constitutional softball the Bush Presidency tossed into the strike zone, but is now loathe to admit that Obama differs little (and may be worse) on the War on Terror or the surveillance state.
If ideology is fog, these two media partners—like the Republican and Democratic Parties they amplify—produce lotsa hot air that does little more than fog up the window between the financially insecure masses and the trans-party elites in the national security state, on Wall Street and in Washington, D.C.’s permanent political class. Isn’t it telling how they all seem to prosper regardless of political outcomes?
Even more telling was a Freudian slip by glass-breaking thug extraordinaire—Rush Limbaugh. He recently told a caller named “Tony from Tampa” to stop watching political hacks on FOX News because “…they’re designed to get you ticked off. They’re designed to make you question your sanity.” Although Rush quickly explained away his momentary lapse into reason, his statement betrayed the simple truth about American politics—the show must go on.
So, entering stage “left”—the Hillary miniseries.
It feeds the Republican outrage machine and will no doubt help them raise millions of dollars. In response, Democrats will, of course, circle the wagons around their beloved standard-bearer and will no doubt raise millions of dollars to re-tell themselves and America the halcyon lies of the Clinton Years.
And for the blatherati at FOX News and MSBNC, the talking points will practically write themselves.Tweet
Posted on | August 8, 2013 | 4 Comments
Timing is everything.
Terrifying terror thwarted.
The media dutifully regurgitated and the conversation changed.
Frankly, when it comes to justifying the national security state, “potential terror” is almost as good as actual terror. In some ways, it’s better. It keeps Americans on their toes and critics on their heels, but without any unpleasant details. And that detail-free approach has worked quite effectively for well over a decade.
Put bluntly, the War on Terror has been predicated on blind trust.
If you don’t want to re-live the terror of 9/11, you will just have to trust us. If you want to preserve “The Homeland” and your family, you will just have to trust us. And if you aren’t doing anything wrong, you have no reason not to trust us.
Therein lies the rub.
The national security state relies upon the willingness of the public to trust them without question. Don’t worry about the facts and details—just let us handle the truth. But the public airing of facts and details is also imperative to the constitutional system the national security state is tasked to preserve.
However, some troublesome facts have disrupted that once-reliable Catch-22.
It’s not just Edward Snowden’s revelatory details about the NSA’s massive, extra-constitutional surveillance infrastructure. And it’s not just that DNI James Clapper lied to Congress. Or that the President and key members of Congress keep lying to the public. Now newly-released documents show the NSA went so far as to violate orders issued by the ultra-secret rubber-stamping FISA court. Even worse, other governmental agencies covet the NSA’s epic haul of data and, if the DEA’s “Special Operations Division” is any indication, the collection of everything possible can easily metastasize into a massive, classified law enforcement crackdown on the beleaguered denizens of “The Homeland.”
So, after decades of acting with impunity under a veil of relative obscurity, the beating heart of the national security state—the NSA—is enduring an unprecedented level of public scrutiny. Now the “just trust us” phase of the War on Terror is in real jeopardy.
Questions about the veracity and timing of seemingly convenient terror alerts reflect this new reality. Americans know the NSA never “met-a-data” it didn’t like to collect. And their Homeland Security “partners” in the ever-vigilant FBI not only seem to be forcing a merger with the telecom industry, but they’ve also employed hackers who could easily turn your snazzy new TV into a two-way observation mirror.
However, the national security state is so much more than just the data hounds in the NSA, the FBI and the DEA. It is the Pentagon, the National Security Council, the CIA, self-interested members of Congress, military contractors, defense lobbyists, oil executives, public intellectuals and the smarmy think tanks that harbor them.
They are the purveyors of perpetual war, and they have been ever since Senator Arthur Vandenberg infamously told a myopic, compliant haberdasher from Missouri that he’d have to “scare the hell out of the American people” if he wanted to engage in a multi-generational conflict with former allies in the Soviet Union.
On March 12, 1947, “Give ’em Hell Harry” did just that. He gave the “Truman Doctrine” speech that set in motion decades of proxy wars, the scourge of McCarthyism and the still-resonant debacle of Vietnam. In it he warned of an enemy that relied “upon terror and oppression, a controlled press and radio; fixed elections, and the suppression of personal freedoms.”
It worked. Three years later, on April 14, 1950, the National Security Council codified the multi-generational conflict in a top-secret, innocuously-named “NSC-68” report outlining the strategy of “containment.” That document was the exclamation point at the end of the Cold War sentence written by Truman and the nascent national security state when they dropped the atomic bombs on Japanese civilians.
Then as now, timing is everything.
Although the Japanese signaled their willingness to surrender, Truman and Co. knew the Soviets were coming—ready to turn their victorious army toward their long-standing Japanese competitors in East Asia. Wary of a Soviet presence in America’s growing sphere of influence, the national security state used the devastating attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki as a well-timed demonstration of force to the Soviets and the world. They certainly did nothing to keep the Emperor off the throne, which had been the supposed sticking point keeping the Allies from accepting Japan’s surrender before its civilians were summarily incinerated.
Ironically, it’s been 68 years since the US became the first and only nation to ever use nuclear weapons. Not ironically, it is still the national security state and the mantra of “national security” that trumps everything in American life and politics and business.
That one phrase classifies anything and justifies everything. It answers all questions and ends all discussions. It is the top secret that keeps the secrets of those at the top. That’s what “national security” is and has been—the fail-safe redoubt for a profitable shadow government of elite bureaucrats, military contractors, political salespeople and intelligence interlopers.
“National security” is also why al-Qaeda will never die.
Like the Soviet Union and communism before it, al-Qaeda is the perfect foil as “terror” incarnate. It is the nefarious leader of an international network of terrorists bent on destroying America simply because it hates the American Way of life.
Unlike the Soviet Union, it will be virtually impossible to trust or verify its demise. No matter how many “suspects” are killed or top leaders are felled, these non-state actors will never leave the stage. The mere presence of American power on their soil, hovering in their skies or simply operating behind their scenes will create an endless supply of individual enemies, ad hoc organizations and insurgencies against US-backed regimes.
And now that Osama bin Laden is gone, the national security state fights enemies it refuses to name. It deploys “suspected drones” to kill “suspected militants” and “suspected al-Qaeda” in Yemen, Pakistan or anywhere “affiliates” and “associates” and “al-Qaeda-linked” groups may pop up. Since drone strikes kill ten times as many civilians than do piloted airstrikes, they will pop up in perpetuity. And America’s global empire of bases, clients and far-flung “national” interests will forever expose Americans to potential harm and inspire domestic fear.
Perhaps the greatest irony is that this latest cocktail of fear and trust is being served at the same time the President criticizes Russia for “slipping back” into Cold War thinking.
The simple fact is that America’s national security state never stopped drinking the Cold War Kool-Aid.
Posted on | July 24, 2013 | 3 Comments
It is the most important question a journalist can ask.
The “who, what, when and where” set the stage, but any actor will tell you that the motivation—the “why”—is what truly brings a character to life and makes them comprehensible. The motivation is, in fact, the whole point of the story.
In the case of the Boston Bombing, the editors at Rolling Stone have asked “why” and set off a fascinating and all-too telling response.
The visceral reaction to the much-discussed and widely-criticized cover featuring the visage of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev strikes right at the heart of a largely unanswered question central to the War on Terror.
Why did they attack us?
Why do they hate us?
Why are they threatened by our freedom?
Since 9/11 brought terrorism into the lives and living rooms of each and every American, the foggy War on Terror has both transformed America and engulfed the world without much in the way of adequate answers to these questions. The randomness and insanity of “Evil” is the lone explanation that fills the void of cognitive dissonance between the causes and effects, and between the truth and its consequences.
Evil works best where understanding is elusive. It flourishes where ignorance persists—particularly willful ignorance. So many atrocities have at their root the willingness of “bystanders” to look the other way. But it also offers a tempting salve when “evil acts” hint at something deeper and more complicated than random insanity. That is when we grasp in the dark for answers. In lieu of easy answers we struggle to wrest some logic out of the rubble and collateral damage.
Logical explanations, however, rely on information and context. Sadly, these have been in short supply since George W. Bush first began chanting the word “Evildoers” and, therefore, provided a reassuring national mantra to a shocked and awestruck population.
The culprit was, quite simply, Evil. And the ready-made juxtaposition of Evil is, of course, Good.
Obviously, America is Good, particularly if Evil seeks to destroy it. Is there any doubt that a war against Evil is fully justified? A “Just War” is not just war. It is the God-given right of the afflicted.
This easy and simple juxtaposition of Evil versus Good worked quite well on a woozy population stumbling out of a decade bookended by OJ and Monica. Mired in infotainment and woefully unaware of the complicated genesis of Islamic fundamentalism, the “face of evil” fit quite well on Osama bin Laden. His long beard and swarthy skin and anachronistic robes evoked a deeply-seated meme consecrated by the Ayatollah Khomeini and his revolution against America’s Shah.
Without shame or a sense of irony, America’s pain was quickly leveraged into another long-standing meme—the dark military dictator. Any casting call for the usual suspects must include the sneering face and military bravado of Saddam Hussein. Like Osama, he worked for America before he worked against it. When America set the stage for its terrifying war on a nation of truly innocent bystanders, his face matched the poorly scripted sequel to the Gulf War. Mainstream journalism remained fixated on the easy narrative, happily spinning on the Axis of Evil and failing so utterly and completely that 70% of Americans believed Saddam Hussein was responsible for 9/11.
His face fit the narrative. Unlike the face of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.
“Jahar,” as his friends and wrestling coach liked to call him, presents something altogether different. The juxtaposition of his soft, inviting face next to the big, bold tagline “The Bomber” immediately sparked outrage. The utter lack of evil present in his doe-like eyes and the suspicious lack of horns protruding from his full head of dark, curly hair did not properly match the narrative driving the War on Terror.
This wasn’t Osama or Saddam or even Mohammed Atta. This wasn’t a mugshot or a still taken from a grainy jihadist video. This was a national Rorschach Test.
Although this very picture was used by the NY Times shortly after the attack, and despite the fact that this type of juxtaposition is a fairly standard way to examine the often stark and chilling gap between appearances and reality, many cried foul and some retailers even boycotted the magazine.
Yet, it is that gap between appearances and reality where one might actually find answers to the “whys.” But the War on Terror cannot sustain these gaps. Appearances and reality must match. The dozens upon dozens of children killed in drones strikes must not be seen or named. The hundreds of others killed must be categorized as “militants,” if only because they happened to be “military-aged” males. And the “double-tap” strikes cannot be said to have killed our latest genus of citizen-saint—the “first responder”—despite the fact that American drones sometimes double-back on targets to bomb the first people responding to the victims caught in the initial attack.
Imagine what the picture of a drone would look like on the cover of Rolling Stone in Yemen or Pakistan or Afghanistan. Would they also feel outrage because the innocuous image of a pilotless plane doesn’t fully represent the evil it has wrought on them, their families and their lives?
Then again, the Muslim world doesn’t have to deal in theoretical affronts. They’ve lived in the gap for decades. They know firsthand about US support of dictatorships and bloody regimes from Egypt to Indonesia. They know about the overthrow of Mossadeq and America’s insatiable greed for oil. They know that the US armed both sides of the Iran-Iraq War. They see American might interwoven with the repressive Saudi royal family, which was the initial motivation for Osama bin Laden to turn from CIA-backed ally to sworn enemy. Really, US imperial and corporate power has been felt throughout the Muslim world since the end of World War II.
Now add recent crimes of torture and Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib and the destruction of Iraq. Rest assured those are on the minds of millions of Muslims.
And these troubling details began to crowd the young, impressionable mind of an outwardly diffident Jahar. Apparently, the lure of plastic consumerism and reality television were not enough to keep him on the path to full Americanization. Rather, he was radicalized. Or, to invoke another tempting narrative, he “self-radicalized.” Whether Jahar was a self-made “monster” or was guided by Misha, the shady Svengali who held sway over his brother Tamerlan, the bottom line of Janet Reitman’s story is that he got lost in the gap between reality and rhetoric. This is exactly where America remains over a decade after 9/11 and over two years since Osama’s picture appeared on the cover of TIME with a red “X” through it.
That image fit the narrative. But instead of being the period at the end of painful sentence, the War on Terror runs on and on. Meanwhile, America is left to ponder “why” as secret wars rage in Somalia and Yemen and around Africa, while innocent men suffer torturous indignities in the legal black hole of Gitmo and as the freedoms “they” supposedly hate are absconded by a muscular national security state so dependent upon the perpetuation of war.
By forcing us to look into the face of Jahar, Rolling Stone forced us to examine why this soft-spoken, well-liked and seemingly Westernized boy turned violently on his adopted country. Perhaps the real fear is that he and others like him are not motivated by something as easy to understand and dismiss as “pure Evil.”Tweet
Posted on | June 27, 2013 | 2 Comments
In fact, he’s one of the key whistleblowers of the last twenty years. His revelatory admissions on 60 Minutes and to the 9/11 Commission marked a significant tipping point in the middle of the Bush years.
Clarke’s candid remarks “blew the whistle” on the conflation of Iraq and 9/11 and, at a time of lockstep adherence to über-patriotic tropes, he was a lifetime member of the national security establishment who openly challenged Team Bush’s motives for invading and occupying Iraq.
Finally, his willingness to be the only official to publicly take responsibility for the “failures” that led up to 9/11 not only reinforced his longstanding credibility, but it gave him a certain gravitas regarding issues of truth and its consequences.
So, when Richard Clarke talks about matters of national security, people should listen.
While the mainstream media crowed about “conspiracy theories” swirling around “the internet” in the days after Hastings’ Mercedes turned into a high-speed incinerator, the decidedly staid Clarke talked pointedly with The Huffington Post about the circumstances surrounding the bizarre crash that took the young investigative reporter’s life.
His language was unvarnished and his assertions chilling. Clarke told reporter Mike Hogan that not only is there “…reason to believe that intelligence agencies for major powers” can cyber-attack, hijack and then remotely control a car, but this type of attack guarantees that “…whoever did it would probably get away with it.”
Strangely enough, that seems important.
As does this excerpt from the Huffington Post article:
“What has been revealed as a result of some research at universities is that it’s relatively easy to hack your way into the control system of a car, and to do such things as cause acceleration when the driver doesn’t want acceleration, to throw on the brakes when the driver doesn’t want the brakes on, to launch an air bag,” Clarke told The Huffington Post. “You can do some really highly destructive things now, through hacking a car, and it’s not that hard.”
So, while we were all haggling over the ominous threat posed by domestically-deployed drones, that emerging menace suddenly pales in comparison to the immediate and real danger facing just about anyone who bought a car over the last fifteen years. And if you were an “early adopter” and GM enthusiast, you could’ve purchased an OnStar-ready vehicle as far back as 1996.
Since then, the integration of cars, computers, Bluetooth, mobile phone and satellite tracking (GPS) technologies have accelerated at a heady pace. One simple OnStar feature, for example, is “Stolen Vehicle Slowdown” which allows a remote operator to decelerate a vehicle.
It doesn’t take much to extrapolate, as Clarke did, what might happen to a hacked car driven by a high-value target. Really, with the difficulty in tracing an attack after the car, computers and driver have been “compromised” by a raging inferno, even not-so-high value targets that previously might have escaped retribution are now, thanks to technology, easy prey that might be too tempting to pass up.
Although Clarke eschewed the moniker of “conspiracy theorist” and also made clear he was not necessarily claiming that Hastings’ late model, Bluetooth-ready car had been victimized by such an attack, it is notable that he felt the need to make such a strong case for considering the possibility.
As someone well-versed both in cyberwarfare and the tendency of people in power to “shoot the messenger” when the message is dangerous to them, the timing and veracity of Clarke’s interview stand out as chilling reminders of the dangerous games currently being played with national security, whistleblowers and investigative journalism.
Set against the backdrop of the Associated Press and its struggles with the Obama Administration, the Department of Justice’s naming of FOX reporter James Rosen as a “co-conspirator” and, as McClatchy has reported, the ongoing and wide-ranging war on whistleblowers, the chilling effect of an investigative reporter’s assassination cannot be underestimated.
Investigate journalism, anonymous sources and risk-taking whistleblowers offer the one antiseptic to virulent government power and viral corporate malfeasance—free-flowing information. In an age of precipitous decline for traditional journalism, we also cannot underestimate the importance of Wikileaks and whistleblowing, abandon the defense of Bradley Manning and Edward Snowden or fail to protect those few investigative journalists still toiling to expose “the dark side.”
And Richard Clarke has gone out of his way to tell us and those journalists willing to listen that the tipping point between sunlight and darkness is here. Now it is possible for a government or, it is not hard to imagine, a powerful corporation to simply hijack the car of an inconvenient truth-teller and run them off the road, into a ditch or, alas, into a lone palm tree.
What is clear is that journalists who remain unwilling to challenge the assertions made by the powerful, or fail to actively support and protect those who do so in their stead, are not only unworthy of their positions, but they actually aid and abet character assassination and, if Richard Clarke is to be believed, may tacitly allow the actual assassination of their far more relevant colleagues.Tweet
Posted on | June 26, 2013 | 5 Comments
A serious-looking Matt Lauer asked serious-sounding questions to a thrice warmed-over celebrity chef. He probed and prodded her about her character, her life and her use of “hurtful” language—also known as “the N-Word.”
The beleaguered belle was much obliged.
Ms. Deen offered up her tearful best to placate the masses and to salve the wounds inflicted on her business partners and brand identity.
And, sadly, this celebrity chef is gonna keep on apologizing as long as the media gives her airtime. Of course, the “news” media is gonna keep on blathering about her—as long as she keeps chumming their waters with her suddenly bleeding heart.
But the real question is not whether QVC will drop her or if her PR push will save her brand. Rather, the real question is why anyone cares about anything a celebrity chef has to say in the first place? And that’s the most troubling part of this tempest in a Hitler-looking teapot—that “celebrity chef” is a thing.
American “culture” and “society,” such as it is, has actually created dozens of “celebrity chefs.” We’re not talking about the latest incarnations of Julia Child—passionate advocates who are motivated to literally teach people how to cook.
Instead, we are talking about self-aggrandizing camera hogs who just want to be famous. People who want to become “a brand” and be “a personality” and get a TV show. People who want to get rich and be objects of our voyeuristic attention.
Celebrity chefs are now such a cultural phenomenon that Bloomberg TV actually sat them around a table and asked them: “What’s it like to be a Top Chef on TV?”
For those in search of empty calories, this celebrity-driven drivel is always on the menu at Food Network.
They made Paula Deen. And, by turning her Southern-fried lifestyle and oversized personality into a TV show, they turned adult-onset diabetes into a spectator sport.
When Food Network gave us Guy Fieri, it answered the question: What would it be like if Sammy Hagar drove a taco truck?
And when they launched their “Next Food Network Star” franchise they asked Americans the ultimate question: Don’t you want to be Paula Deen or Guy Fieri?
Really, doesn’t everybody want to know “what it is like” to be a “top chef” on TV?
Food Network has leveraged America’s celebrity obsession into an overcooked onslaught of personality-centered, competition-heavy programming. Frankly, the food is beside the point. They’ve co-opted the most elemental human endeavor—the preparation and eating of food—and turned it into a voyeuristic carnival sideshow of sword swallowers, fire eaters and self-promotional barking.
Perhaps the reason Americans prefer to watch celebrities cook and eat and talk about food is the simple fact that Americans are addicted to celebrity. Celebrities are the saints and demigods of American consumerism run amok. They are both consumer products and spirit guides, showing the way through the valley of social media darkness into a promised land of hype, attention and perceived relevance. Marx said religion is the opium of the people, but that was before television could transform people into a drug-like cult of grotesque personalities.
Whether it’s Honey Boo-Boo’s exploitative trashiness or Paula’s Bubba-licious food porn, shame is now passé and exposure is an end unto itself. The simple message of reality programming is that being on TV is its own transcendent reward. With two-thirds of Americans now living paycheck-to-paycheck, perhaps it is the only reward left on the dimming horizon of the American future.
In reality-themed America, the Horatio Alger story has been replaced by The Apprentice, The Biggest Loser and Survivor: Altoona. In the absence of any real progress in politics, economics, education or, it seems, even human evolution, the last hope for a growing population of also-rans is to dream about becoming famous.
And why not?
The incessant machinery of reality television has churned out celebrity duck hunters, pawn shop owners, fishermen, ice truck drivers and real estate agents. Even better (or worse), it has fixated on callow and shrill self-promoting D-Listers like the Kardashians, turning them overnight into full-fledged public figures. Without any talent, ability or even jobs, they have leveraged a sex tape into a virulent and inescapable brand of celebrity that not only rejects shame, but embraces it as a marketing strategy.
Of course, there is money to be made in this new shamelessness. But, as America becomes more polarized between an elite group of haves and teeming masses of have-nots, it seems that fame itself is the new American dream.
To wit, Forbes Magazine actually publishes an annual “List of The Most Powerful Celebrities.” As they make clear, “…our annual Celebrity 100 takes a stab at measuring that most ephemeral of riches: fame. Yes, we factor in celebrity earnings over the last 12 months, but we also tally how often each celebrity is mentioned in print and on TV, and gauge the strength of their Internet presence and how they’re viewed by a critical constituency: American consumers.”
Of course, Oprah is the “most powerful” celebrity. She made her career by providing a safe place for famous people to wallow in their ephemeral riches. But celebrity chef Rachel Ray and sex tape star Kim Kardashian also made the list—and, therefore, hope springs eternal.
Be comforted, American dreamers. Shame is the only thing standing between you and your arrival as a full-on cultural reference. So, make a sex tape. Try out for a reality competition. Transcend the plight of the anonymous. Maybe you are the next “Food Network Star.” Eventually, you can end up apologizing on the Today Show or, if your fall from grace is epic enough, genuflecting at Oprah’s altar of celebrity power.
If nothing else, you will be guaranteed the “ephemeral riches” of fame as you tally “celebrity mentions” across all media platforms. And you will have escaped the real world fate of millions of people who distract themselves and each other by clamoring to mention you first.Tweet « go back — keep looking »