The elite anchor is not a person filled with passion or curiosity. Therefore, the audience doesn’t have to be passionate or filled with curiosity, either.
The anchor is not a demanding voice on the air; therefore, the audience doesn’t have to be demanding, either.
The anchor isn’t hell-bent on uncovering the truth. For this he substitutes a false dignity. Therefore, the audience can surrender its need to wrestle with the truth and replace that with a false dignity of its own.
The anchor takes propriety to an extreme: it’s unmannerly to look below the surface of things. Therefore, the audience adopts those manners.
The anchor inserts an actor’s style into what should instead be a relentless reporter’s forward motion. Therefore, the audience can remain content in its own related role: watching the actor.
The anchor taps into, and mimics, that part of the audience’s psyche that wants smooth delivery of superficial cause and effect.
Night after night, the anchor, working from a long tradition of other anchors, confirms that he is delivering the news as it should be delivered, in both style and substance. The audience bows before the tradition and before him.
The television anchors are, indeed, a different breed.
From their perch, anchors can deign to allow a trickle of sympathy here, a slice of compassion there.
But they let the audience know that objectivity is their central mission. “We have to get the story right.” “You can rely on us for that.”
This is the great PR arch of national network news. “These facts are what’s really happening and we’re giving them to you.” The networks spend untold millions to convey that false assurance.
The elite anchor must believe the basic parameters and boundaries and context of a story are all there is. There is no deeper meaning. There is no abyss waiting to swallow whole a story and reveal it as a cardboard facade. No. Never.
With this conviction in tow, the anchor can fiddle and diddle with details.
Then he can move on to the task of being the narrative voice of his time, for all people everywhere. The voice that replaces what is going on in the heads of his audience—all those doubts and confusions and objections in the heads of the great unwashed. The anchor will replace those and substitute his own plot line.
Some children are born with a narrative voice. Everything they say, from an early age, has the ring of authority and sounds like the news. It’s built in, as if it’s coming through a microphone. I went to school with a boy like that. He appealed to the gullible, because when they heard him speak they associated the tone and the seamless rhythms with truth.
The network anchor is The Wizard Of Is. He keeps explaining what is. “Here’s something that is, and then over here we have something else that is, and now, just in, a new thing that is.” He lays down miles of “is-concrete” to pave over deeper, uncomfortable, unimaginable truth.
The anchor is quite satisfied to obtain all his information from “reputable sources.” This mainly means government and corporate spokespeople. Not a problem. Every other source, for the anchor, is murky and unreliable. He doesn’t have to worry his pretty little head about whether his sources are, indeed, trustworthy. He calculates it this way: if government and corporations are releasing information, that fact alone means there is news to report. What the FBI director has to say is news whether it’s true or false, because he said it. So why not blur over the mile-wide distinction between “he spoke the truth” and “he spoke”?
Therefore, as night follows the day, the anchor is a mouthpiece for government and corporations.
The anchor must become comfortable with having very little personality of his own—and jarring idiosyncrasies are utterly out of the question. On air, the anchor is neutral, a castratus, a eunuch.
This is a time-honored ancient tradition. The eunuch, by his diminished condition, has the trust of the ruler. He guards the emperor’s inner sanctum. He acts as a buffer between his master and the people. He applies the royal seal to official documents.
Essentially, the anchor is saying, “See, I’m ascetic in the service of truth. Why would I hamstring myself this way unless my mission is sincere objectivity?” And the public buys it.
All expressed shades of emotion occur and are managed within that persona of the dependable court eunuch. The anchor who can move the closest to the line of being human without actually arriving there is the champion. These days, it’s Brian Williams.
The vibrating string between eunuch and human is the frequency that makes an anchor great. Think Cronkite, Chet Huntley, Edward R Murrow. Huntley was a just a touch too masculine, so they teamed him up with David Brinkley, a high-IQ medium-boiled egg. Brinkley supplied twinkles of comic relief.
The public expects to hear that vibrating string. It’s been conditioned by many hard nights at the tube, watching the news. When Diane Sawyer goes too far and begins dribbling (alcohol? tranqs?) on her collar, a danger light blinks on and a mark is entered against her in the book.
The cable news networks don’t really have anyone who qualifies as an elite anchor. Wolf Blitzer of CNN made his bones during the first Iraq war only because his name fit the bombing action so well. Brit Hume of FOX has more anchor authority than anyone now working in network television, but he’s semi-retired, content to play the role of contributor, because he knows the whole news business is a scam on wheels.
There are other reasons for “voice-neutrality” of the anchor. Neutrality conveys a sense of science. “We did the experiment in the lab and this is how it turned out.”
Neutrality gives assurance that everything is under control. And neutrality implies: the nation is so powerful we don’t need to trumpet our facts; we don’t need to become excited; our strength is that secure.
Neutrality implies: this is a democracy; an anchor is no more important than the next person (and yet he is—another contradiction, swallowed).
Neutrality implies: we, the news division, don’t have to make money (a lie); we’re not like the soaps and the cop shows; we’re on a higher plane; we’re performing a public service; we’re like a responsible charity.
In ancient Athens, if there were voices narrating the story line of the Polis, they belonged to the playwrights. They translated their current myths into tragedy and comedy.
Now, the voice belongs to the elite anchor. He is the polished predator drone that descends on the nation every night to make his case for What Is Important.
The anchor is the answer to the age-old question about the people. Do the people really want to suck in superficial cause and effect and surface detail, or do they want deeper truth? Do the people want comfortable gigantic lies, or do they want to look behind the curtain?
The anchor, of course, goes for surface only.
But it turns out that his answer is wrong. The people, at a profound level, want to be awakened. This is what they’re waiting for. This is what they’re hoping for, despite all appearances to the contrary.
They want to throw off the whole cloud of boredom and anxiety that surrounds them. They want to offload the whole stinking mess of lies.
If by some miracle, this revolution occurred on the evening news, the people wouldn’t collapse, the nation wouldn’t collapse. The news divisions of the networks would collapse.
They aren’t geared for the truth. Their sources don’t tell the truth. Their reporters aren’t given time to find the truth.
And the anchor is so accustomed to lying and so accustomed to believing the lies are true that he wouldn’t know how to shift gears. He would have to become a different kind of actor, one he has no training for.
“Well, folks, our top story tonight…it turns out that IG Farben, a famous chemical and pharmaceutical octopus that put Hitler over the top in Germany, was instrumental in planning what became the EU, the European Union. In other words, today’s United Europe is World War Two by other means.”
I don’t think Williams, Pelley, or Sawyer could deliver that line without going into a terminal coughing paroxysm.
At the end of the Roman Empire, when the whole structure was coming apart, a brilliant and devious decision was made at the top. The Empire would proceed according to a completely different plan. Instead of continuing to stretch its resources to the breaking point with military conquests, it would attack the mind.
It would establish the Roman Church and write new spiritual law. These laws and an overriding cosmology would be dispensed, in land after land, by official “eunuchs.” Men who, distanced from the usual human appetites, would automatically gain the trust of the people.
These priests would “deliver the news.” They would be the elite anchors, who would translate God’s orders and revelations to the public.
By edict, no one would be able to communicate with God, except through these “trusted ones.” Therefore, as far the people were concerned, the priest was actually higher on the ladder of power than God Himself.
In fact, it would fall to the new Church to reinterpret all of history, writing it as a series of symbolic clues that revealed and confirmed Church doctrine (story line).
For example, the famous event wherein King Solomon received the Queen of Sheba, would now officially be conceived as illustrative of The Arrival, a Church “headline” category, covering many disparate bits of the past.
Reinterpreted, Sheba and Solomon were nothing more and nothing less than the Church’s precise copyrighted and fully owned story of the entrance of Jesus into this world. One arrival became another arrival.
If this seems absurd, unbelievable, grossly puerile, and illogical to us today, it was very serious business for the Roman Church. Recasting history was an essential function of its news division.
You can go to a small church in the Tuscan town of Arezzo and see one of the greatest paintings realized in all of Western history, Piero della Francesca’s Legend of the True Cross. A panel of this fresco depicts King Solomon receiving the Queen of Sheba.
Why? Why is it there? Why was it part of the Legend of the True Cross? Because, suddenly, it was The Arrival. It had new official, historical, and technical meaning, as decreed by the Roman Church.
The Church’s news division had made it so, led by its universally trusted eunuchs, the priests, the bishops, the cardinals, the Popes, the elite anchors, weaving their Matrix.
Today, you could ask, how can people believe the popular stories of wars, when we know powerful financiers and corporations support both sides, for their own devious objectives?
People believe because the popular stories are delivered by contemporary castrati, every night on the evening news.