CNN – America’s Pravda, an article for POV Magazine

It’s truly fantastic that the western media can speak so disparagingly and self-righteously about the censorship of the media in totalitarian or ‘rogue’ states. And it’s fascinating that it manages to present itself as the standard bearer of freedom of the press and a keystone of democracy – all this when the western media has to be the greatest ideological noise machine of all time. CNN is a standout example of the media Gordian knot throttling progress toward any form of broader-based participatory democracy.

Like core sampling in the mining industry, we recently ‘core sampled’ CNN’s signal on the day of President Bush’s Iraq speech to see what it was made of. On Monday, October 7th 2002, we recorded an hour of programming in the morning from 10:00 – 11:00, an hour in the afternoon from 13:00 – 14:00, and two hours in the evening from 20:00 – 22:00 that includes the President’s speech in Cincinnati and its immediate aftermath.


Why rock the boat

I remember when the Harris Conservatives were first elected and the Ontario Film Development Corporation, established by the Liberals under Peterson, was put on the chopping block. The unlucky head of the OFDC at the time was Alexandra Raffe. She came to a CIFC meeting to tell us about the government’s plans and discuss strategies to oppose the closing of the agency.

Someone spoke of the importance of documentary filmmaking to the culture of the province, that films supported by the OFDC were in the public interest and contributed to a well-functioning democracy because they helped the citizens of Ontario debate issues important to the community. Alexandra interrupted and politely said that kind of argument is absolutely pointless. “The ‘cultural’ argument”, she emphasized, “simply does not compute with this government.” The only thing that stands a chance of influencing them, she said, was an economic argument.


Brault on Morin on documentary

Some years ago when I was editing POV magazine I interviewed Michel Brault, the great Quebecois director of photography and director, when he visited Toronto. I asked him how he defined documentary and he reached into his wallet and took out a text in French by the philosopher Edgar Morin. He had a literal English translation and he asked me if I could improve the translation he would appreciate it. There is more thought about the documentary in this quote than we are used to.

There are two ways of conceiving the cinema of the real. The first is to claim to show the real. The second is to pose the problem of the real. Similarly, there were two ways of conceiving of cinema-verite. The first was to claim to deliver the truth. The second was to pose the problem of the truth.

Edgar Morin