In a healthy society governed by democratic principles and the rule of law, news media would be analogous to a powerful telescope, a roving, scrutinizing eye from which little or nothing can hide. Corrupt societies — ones that require the vast majority of the population to be passive, obedient, misinformed, ignorant, distracted and consumptive — require instead a media that acts as a kind of prism, a distorting lens that presents a perversion of reality.
The scale of this distortion varies greatly around the world, with some — mostly independent — media (sometimes lone journalists) laudably aiming to shine a torch as best they can on state and corporate power. At the other extreme, dictatorships like North Korea use state media to portray a false reality to help control their people, who nonetheless are surely aware that their freedoms are strictly limited.
Western corporate-owned media, however, is unique and quite remarkable in that while it depicts a reality as laughably false as that shown to the North Koreans, its readers/viewers — more accurately its consumers — are overwhelmingly unaware that they are being fed a pack of lies, that the picture given to them is — in key areas that concern corporate power and Western control of world resources — diametrically opposite to reality. With a corporate media monopoly over the information that enters people’s brains, information that is crucial to the formation of their worldview, reality is skewed with ease to serve the interests of capital and control. Not only are consumers of such information not aware of this cynical manipulation, they are not even aware that they are not aware.