in an uncompromising way.nX he matrix of liberal heinousness, villainy and deceit isnthe media. These are, indeed, strong epithets, but they donnot originate in anger, rather in a necessity for precision.nDuring the last midterm election, anchormen of all threennetworks reported on the victory of the conservative senatornfrom North Carolina, each hastening to add that his campaignnwas the most costly in the history of senatorial races.nWhat they all unanimously chose to omit was that Mr.nHelms, exactly like Mr. Anderson’s opponent, had reallynreceived six million dollars, an enormous sum, mostly innlittle contributions from a huge mass of conservative faithfulsnwho deemed his race crucial and representative of theirnown views, whether they felt in tune with him from Nebraska,nArizona, or New Hampshire. Helm’s case, judgednby unprejudiced standards, is a paradigm of small donationndemocracy, possibly the most democratic form of protestnagainst the complexities and contradictions of a political system,nwell-designed but infected with cynicism, sophism andncorruption. What can be more democratic than little peoplenwho are willing to deprive themselves of money they neednbadly, just to voice their ideological preference — since donorsnin Wyoming and Arkansas have little sociopoliticoeconomicninterest in the election of a Senator from NorthnCarolina. But the anchormen, those feudal power brokers ofnan allegedly democratic medium, are interested neither innhonest interpretation, nor in truth, nor in Democratic ornRepublican politics: they are interested only in liberal omnipotence,npatronage and influence, so they knowingly smirknon camera to insinuate that God only knows where this immensenmoney came from, maybe from satanic capitalists, ornsome right-wing conspiracy, and they unceremoniously cutnMr. Helms off the air when he tries to explain. Politics mattersnlittle to TV moguls, but ideology matters very much; annoverall indifference to Mr. Helms, or even personal sympathy,nhave to be set aside when it becomes necessary to donhim in as an ideological enemy — and anchormen did it withnan obvious relish on their telegenic faces.nThis is what makes it necessary for the nonliberals andnconservatives to muckrake these days, for only pungent detailnand merciless exposition will visualize, in the nation’snmind, bedazzled for decades by liberal propaganda, the heinousnessnthat must and should be called liberal. It is the onlynway to prevail over the absurd notion that Democrats andnRepublicans can be knavish and crooked, but what’s liberalncannot be dirty according to a superimposed sense of ethicsnand decency. It’s an absurd notion, but deeply ingrained innthe contemporary American conscience.nIn such an undertaking, the nonliberals are deprived ofnthe crucial instrument which remains a firmly liberal monopolynand makes futile any effort to seek truth, redress andnnnsuccess — that is, the mass media.nTo Mark Twain, the press was a “black-hearted scoundrel,”nand there are many in this country, after nearly a century,nwho think of the media in precisely the same way. IfnTwain saw in the American press a monstrous source of lienand obloquy, today we would be wary of expressing our reservationsnabout the press with Twain’s unwavering certitude.nAn intense critique of the American communication medianfrom the nonliberal and conservative viewpoint is going onnnow in books and independent publications. The picture thatnemerges is gloomy: even if the accuracy of information isnbeyond any doubt much more trustworthy than in Twain’snday, the manipulative potential of the press cancels this gain.nThrough some complex sociohistorical process, the big citynmedia, even if politically variegated, have culturally becomenalmost uniform in their irrational liberalism. And the big citynmedia, even if not always followed by the hinterland media,ncreate the cultural climate of the country.nWh hat brings about the media power in today’snAmerica ? Most likely, it is a unique blending of social, economicnand cultural influences into an immediate force. Annew monolithic quality and concept of might, unknown before,nemerges from fusing these three elements together. Itnthen acquires a new ethos derived from the specific, absolutist,ntaboolike interpretation of the First Amendment, one of thencornerstones of American democracy. The follies and monstrositiesnof this ethos are countless and frightening. “A centralnpoint about the free press,” says Eric Sevareid, TV’s topnguru, “is not that it be fair, though it must try to be; not thatnit be accurate, though it must try to be that. But that it benfree.” This is a chilling sociomoral pronunciamento, and it isnregarded by the American press as a nonnegotiable commandment—nwithout any possible recourse for those whonwould demur to any rational or moral qualification, or to annextrapolative value. “Error,” says Tom Wicker (whose booknis reviewed in this issue), “can sometimes be a vital and unavoidablenconsequence of the search for truth, and errornmust therefore be tolerated, or at least not be punished, lestnthere be no search for truth …” A scary totalitarian principlenlurks in these words: what Wicker demands is nonless than impunity for any error, not admitting that henalready has at his disposal the means with which to concealnerrors, to void any attempt to expose them. Neither Socrates,nnor Thomas Becket, nor Galileo asked for such immunity,nand it’s doubtful whether punishment for their errors wouldnever have stopped them from searching for truth.nThus, it seems that the American press, by absolutizing itsnposition, becomes the foremost totalitarian element in thendemocratic American universe. Totalitarian because it doesnnot just inform, as it claims to do, but because it invadesncontinued on page 31nChronicles of Culturen