Oct. 13, 2011
Unless you live in metro Phoenix, you don’t know John Hook. But you undoubtedly know someone like him in your town. My condolences.
Hook is a popular news anchor on the local Fox TV station. Naturally, he is handsome and well-coiffed. He’s also an unabashed business basher, one of thousands across the nation in the news media, in Hollywood, and in academia. The results of their business bashing can be seen in the demonstrations against Wall Street and capitalism. The bashers don’t seem to realize that they run the risk of being bashed themselves if social unrest spreads and turns against them, since they are also part of the capitalist system and have benefited personally from it.
Hook’s business bashing was front and center in his newscast of Oct. 5. During a segment on Bank of America, Hook shook his head back and forth in disgust while scolding the bank for raising fees on debit cards and checking accounts. But he didn’t tell the rest of the story. He didn’t say what had precipitated the new fees--namely, that large retailers had lobbied Congress to force banks to reduce the card fees that they had to pay to the banks for services rendered.
Congress, with its typical dislike of market competition and love of crony capitalism, gave the retailers what they wanted, thus forcing banks to make up for the lost revenue elsewhere. In other words, Congress had engaged in price fixing and a populist masquerade instead of furthering market competition and transparency.
It would have taken 30 seconds for Hook to tell the rest of the story. But instead of enlightening his audience, he continued with his business bashing by comparing the bank fees to the fees that airlines charge for luggage. Once again, he failed to tell the rest of the story: According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, average domestic airline fares have fallen by 16% in constant dollars since 1995, even with the baggage fees. Instead of gouging customers, as Hook had implied, airlines have made flying cheaper.
During the same period, federal, state and local government spending has increased from $2.63 trillion to $6.3 trillion, due in large part to media Hooksters, er, hucksters, running sob stories about Americans starving in the streets because of evil businesses.
It’s the same anti-business story that has been told in hundreds of movies--films that are less obvious in their bias and thus more effective than Michael Moore’s childish rants. One of the worst of the genre is The Fugitive, a 1993 film starring Harrison Ford, who plays a doctor falsely convicted of killing his wife, based loosely on a true story. The action is exciting, and the acting, directing and cinematography are above average. But the film resorts to business bashing of the worst kind. To wit: At the movie’s climax, Ford finds that a pharmaceutical company was behind the murder of his wife, and he confronts the drug company’s fat-cat executives at a swank corporate social event.
Talk about twisting the truth! Pharmaceutical companies save lives, but the movie portrays them as murderers.
Movies showing the awfulness of conservatives are just as abundant as movies bashing business. For example, the otherwise excellent film, The Manchurian Candidate, portrays a fictional conservative presidential wannabe as a psychopathic megalomaniac, with overtones of incest thrown in for good measure. Similarly, the comedic movie, Dave, portrays an obviously Republican president and his chief of staff as ruthless and heartless. It takes a liberal First Lady and her boyfriend Dave, a stand-in for the president, to set things right and restore funding for free child care.
Such biases are not restricted to America’s shores. The BBC series, House of Cards, received rave reviews for its portrayal of a fictional conservative Member of Parliament who resorts to murder to get elected Prime Minister. In an obvious slam against Margaret Thatcher’s attempts to cut the welfare state and restore prosperity, scenes of homeless Londoners are interspersed throughout the film, thus making a link in the uninformed minds of viewers between conservatism and homelessness.
Then there is the 100-to-1 ratio of films about the horrors of the Third Reich versus films about the horrors of the Soviet Union. This unbalance reveals the propagandistic brilliance of America’s left. First, they associate the Third Reich with the right-wing, although Hitler’s regime was socialist. Then they overlook the nationalism and genocide of Stalin’s regime, due largely to the embarrassing fact that many American leftists, including many in FDR’s administration, had thought highly of Soviet communism. That explains why the left despises and belittles the writing of Ayn Rand, who, as a Russian émigré, knew the truth about communism.
Similarly, there are scores of movies about Joe McCarthy’s communist witch hunts and Dick Nixon’s dirty tricks, but none come to mind about equal or worse transgressions by liberals and progressives. For example, I know of no film about progressive idol Woodrow Wilson persecuting reporters for sedition because they dared to speak against the control freak. Similarly, I can’t recall a film about the FDR administration persecuting owners of small businesses, including the horrendous abuse of power in going after the Schechter brothers for supposedly violating the National Recovery Act in running a kosher butcher business in Brooklyn.
Karl Marx got it half-right when, to paraphrase, he said that capitalists will sell you the rope to hang them. He should have added that reporters and movie producers will sell leftist agitprop to a gullible public and then wonder why the system that made them prosperous is overthrown.
Mencken’s Ghost is the nom de plume of an Arizona writer who can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org