Sunday, February 13, 2005

Media Artifact

In the coverage of Dean taking the DNC helm, hardly a story is filed without reference to The Scream. These references make me scream.

There never was a Dean Scream. It didn't happen.

Not in real life, anyway.

Everybody knows the scream was a glitch, an event that happened on television and nowhere else. It did not happen in the room where Howard Dean gave his speech while hundreds tried to hear him. Everyone knows that the din of the crowd drowned out the sound coming out of Howard Dean's body. But the unidirectional microphone picked up Howard and excluded everthing else.

It happened on television, but not in real life. It was a media artifact, obscuring the truth, much like patient motion artifact obscures the data in an MRI test, making it impossible to know what is truly going on in the body.

The media artifact was a better story (so what if it wasn't true) so it got told. Decisions were made on the basis of it being true.

How many media artifacts obscure our body politic these days? How many decisions are being made on the basis of artifact rather than fact? How long can the body of democracy stand it?

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