Intellectual Prostitution and the Myth of Objectivity

Writers, like all humans, lack objectivity. That's the point of writing. Yet many are obsessed with the myth of “objectivity.”

So whence the delusional obsession with “objectivity” in the journalism schools and the pages of the Gray Lady et al.? The pretense and veneer of objectivity is the goal. This renders idiot mistakes and outright falsities so much easier to sell to the public. After all, the marketer of the junk is presented as the all-seeing eye, an authority no less unerring than the babblers at Delphi, no less the product of superstition. Whether we like it or not—whether we recognize it or not—the culture credits “objectivity” in the journalistic establishment as the product of powers greater than known. The news-clown jabbers on screen, says this or that is so … and, lo, it is so. More likely it’s “All the News That’s Shit to Print.”

Let’s not forget that this sleight of hand gets innocent people killed and maimed—see The New York Times’ “objective coverage” of the run-up to the invasion of Iraq. If there’s a lesson here, it’s that whenever you hear of governments and organizations fomenting, preparing for or making war, be prejudiced on the side of peace; this is un-American, I know. Whenever you hear a government spokesman speak, your objective assessment should be that he’s lying—this is only logical consistency. Be prejudiced, in fact, against persons associated with organizations large or small, be they members of government, private industry or a block association. Be biased in favor of the lone man against whatever or whoever colludes against men acting alone. For my part, I’ll take the word of the skankiest street hustler over the police commissioner, the buzzing of the gnat over the scream of the 10 gorillas.

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