Guest Post: The News Cycle: Full of Sound And Fury, Signifying Nothing

Tyler Durden's picture

Submitted by Charles Hugh Smith from Of Two Minds

The News Cycle: Full of Sound And Fury, Signifying Nothing

No wonder we're struggling; we're given tales told by idiots as "news" and "interpretation."

The Mainstream Media has completely failed to make sense of the global financial crisis. By "make sense" I mean a framework of interpretation that properly attributes responsibility to the causes and players and which explains the key dynamics in common language.

A framework of interpretation doesn't disappear in the next news cycle: it is constantly reinforced by additional interpretation and illumination.

The news cycle now lasts at best the length of a playoff series. Mr. bin Laden's news cycle didn't even last as long as an NBA playoff; the demise of the "most dangerous man in the world" was shoved into the ashbin of history within a few days, with little interpretation beyond fist-pumping and a few fusty pontifications by the usual suspects, i.e. the "experts" trotted out during "big events" to explain it all away.

The full quote from Macbeth (Act V, Scene V): It is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing. Every "news event" is terribly important, until a few hours later it is unimportant.

This is a form of madness, a madness which goes unrecognized in the crazed, turbulent flood of "news."

To be sure, a handful of people within the Mainstream Media (which now includes the Web aggregators such as HuffPo/AOL) do labor away at an honest account, but these reports are either buried beneath an avalanche of dross or they are touted (briefly, of course), as the Media's Potemkin Village: you see, we really are doing good journalism here.

The ugly truth is the Mainstream Media now depends on adverts aimed at the top 10% of the populace for its survival. It's all well and good to talk about journalism, blah blah blah, but I've got a kid in private school and a mortgage, and the last thing this "news organization" needs is to undermine the advertisers by calling the entire Status Quo into question.

Simply put, the top 10% of households are the ones paying the media's bills. Their consumption of goodies accounts for 40% of the entire U.S. economy, and so advertising rather naturally skews to serve their desires and aspirations.

The debt-serfs and tax donkeys below (I raise my hand here) may have aspirations to the lux life, but with the home ATM shut down, costs for essentials floating ever higher and earnings in decline, their discretionary income approximates a shovel full of snow dumped on Death Valley asphalt in July.

Local television stations limp along until a new election cycle disgorges a wave of pricey electioneering. Elections are an essential "profit center" for TV. Do you reckon that colors their coverage of the travesty of a mockery of a sham that is American politics? Of course it does: the Media is itself dependent on the charade being treated as "terribly important" when it is all just a money-driven tale told by idiots, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.

The essential framework of intepretation that is missing from the Mainstream Media is that the Status Quo is unsustainable and profound changes cannot be avoided. But rather than assemble a framework which might help us understand our limited pallette of hard choices, the Media distracts us with a frenzy of gossip, brightly packaged "news" that looks just like marketing and circus-like "thrills and spills" to entertain us between the "clash of gladiators."

A handful of commentators understand this, and a few of those are occasionally given a bit of space amid the cacophany, again, to burnish the Potemkin Village image of the media as "responsible" and "providing a wide range of voices," blah blah blah. David Stockman is such a voice, relegated to the back pages/buried links or "financial section" where it can be overshadowed by the "earnings surprises" and "rising profits" stories: David Stockman, Reagan economist, on debt spree.

The truth is that the Media is terrified of the coming transformation
. Dependent as they are on adverts aimed at the top 10% (with a few grocery circulars for the bottom 90% to paw over, looking for bargains), the idea that the entire edifice is crumbling leaves them with no lifeline.

There is a lifeline, but they are too afraid to see it: you could tell the truth. The truth is difficult, but it is something some people would pay for. It is, after all, one of the essentials of life.

There is another idiot in the room: search engines which reward aggregation of meaningless sound and fury. If the Google et al. algorithms weighted original content as a 10 on a scale of 1 to 10, and any aggregated links to that content a 0 or a 1, then that would instantly change the incentives of the "game" of "attracting eyeballs" and thus advertisers.

Right now, an aggregated link to this entry places higher in a search of the title than my own site, which is a Page Rank 5 site (i.e. it has a lot of "strong" links in and a lot of content). That is a snapshot of what is pushing the Media to spewing ever louder and more meaningless sounds and furies.

If all the major search engines relegated aggregator links to the basement and rewarded original content, that would help right the sinking ship.

The Mainstream Media is boxed in by its old models and its fear of the future. As its subscriber base melts away, it turns to precisely the worst "strategy," which is marketing to the top 10% of the populace which supports its advertising base, and giving that top tranch what they want to hear: everything's gonna be fine, profits are rising, we have a great lineup for Fall, the latest fashions are "gotta have," and all the other idiot's chatter of marketing which signifies nothing.

By offering up an idiot's delight of "content" and fawning support of the Status Quo "story"--there is no need to transform anything, everything's fixed, there's plenty of everything forever, technology will seamlessly provide solutions to every vexing problem, our system (healthcare, politics, etc.) is the finest in the world, etc.--the Media and its search engine offshoots have failed the nation, profoundly, deeply and irrevocably.

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.
Racer's picture

There is a vested interest in banksters and their aids delaying as much as possible ... the outcome will be out of bounds of the justice system if they keep the pretence up just that long enough for it to be out of time for them to do the time

redpill's picture

And yet they still play best of seven in every freaking round of hockey playoffs.

It is amusing to listen to CNBC every once in awhile; it's so painfully irrelevant that it makes you wonder if they are really that clueless and don't understand what is actually happening, or if they really have no journalistic integrity whatsoever and they are just proceeding according to the "what stocks are hot today" formula.


newworldorder's picture

The media has become a reflection of society. Very difficult for anyone to take an opposing position on issues that matter. Opposition is not tolerated. Group think is rewarded.

If one gets a repuation as "difficult or negative." you can kiss that career goodby. In order to work you have to take the blue pill. By definition, - taking the red pill, makes you long term unemployable.

CH1's picture

Opposition is not tolerated. Group think is rewarded.

12 years of government school conditioning, 5+ hours per day, started at 5 years old... it works. :(

Rainman's picture

Kudos to all blue pill ingesting humanoids. Sincerely, Agent Smith

disabledvet's picture

"news" itself is a creation.  you really need to read the life of Joseph Pulitzer.  "what is it?" is not a philosophical question.  the answer is "what's new?"  sometimes it's obvious (the airplane, the moon-landing, the automobile, Playboy)-but more often than not "it's that other something."  why does ZH "get the news?"  "must be the incredible reporting!"(ha, ha!)  obviously since we are not the NY Times or WSJ--that's not true.  what we do know for a fact is that "news is sensational!"  ("JAPANESE BOMB PEARL HARBOR") so clearly "there must be some direction at the top" (double entendre alert!) in order to "get it."  (double meaning alert!  double meaning alert!)

Shell Game's picture

..the Media and its search engine offshoots have failed the nation, profoundly, deeply and irrevocably.

My sentiments exactly. This MSM is second only to our monetary policy makers in sheer disappointment, ineptness and lack of truthfulness.  /tv

Yen Cross's picture

 This trade is what I live for!

    Buzzards circling Scorpions!

GeneMarchbanks's picture

talkativeness is afraid of the silence which reveals its emptiness-kierkegaard. Yep, you're seeing it! I just pulled out Kierkegaard. Next up any chance to use Heidegger I'm all over it. Try me

redpill's picture

Appropriate how many Keynesians are being overcome with Fear and Trembling.


Spalding_Smailes's picture


N.A Class 8 truck orders reach highest level since spring of '06

ACT data shows that December net orders for heavy-duty Class 8 commercial vehicles in North America topped 27,044 units—marking a 125% jump year-over-year and the highest monthly total since May, 2006.  

Topping even the very bullish ACT North American Commercial Vehicle Outlook thatACT Research Co. (ACT) released just eight days ago, today ACTannounced that  its latest outlook report shows that net orders for North American heavy-duty commercial net orders have reached their “highest level in four- and- a-half years.”


May 19 (Reuters) - Sales by Caterpillar Inc (CAT.N) dealers of its machinery accelerated in the three-month period ended in April, while engine sales growth slowed, the world's largest maker of heavy machinery said on Thursday.

Overall dealer sales of machines rose 66 percent in the three months ended in April, faster than the 61 percent growth for the three months ended in March. Sales growth picked up in all regions but Latin America, the company said in a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.


Rise in truck and trailer forecasts

For example, Volvo Trucks North America (VTNA) recently raised its forecast for U.S. Class 8 sales this year from 220,000 units to between 230,000 to 240,000 units. The increasing pace of truck and trailer orders is leading many OEMs and analysts to raise their equipment sales forecasts for the year. “The order rate is so high now that we’ll reach a natural ‘ceiling’ soon in terms of how many trucks we can physically produce this year,” Ron Huibers, VTNA’s senior vp-sales and marketing, told Fleet Owner at the company’s New River Valley plant outside Dublin, VA.

Paccar, which builds both Peterbilt and Kenworthtrucks, also raised its sales forecast for 2011. At the2011 Mid America Trucking Show, Peterbilt GM Bill Jackson estimated total industry Class 8 sales would reach 210,000 units this year, with medium-duty sales reaching 50,000 units.

Yet, by April Paccar widened its sales projections range for Class 8 vehicles to between 200,000 and 220,000 units. “Class 8 industry retail sales in the U.S. and Canada in 2011 are improving steadily,” said Dan Sobic, Paccar’s executive vp, in the company’s first quarter earnings report.


Diogenes's picture

Where else do you find a quote from Kierkegaard next to a report on dump truck sales? It is things like this that give Zero Hedge its piquancy.

knowless's picture

if only he would include who the purchaser was.

obelisks's picture

a means of transportation for the masses to the FEMA camps ?

StychoKiller's picture

A whole lotta folks with $5 in their pockets, mining for Ag?

fockewulf190's picture

Is Liesman taking his Prozac yet? 

nah's picture


Guest Post: The News Cycle: Full of Sound And Fury, Signifying ...

8 posts - 7 authors - Last post: 47 minutes ago

talkativeness is afraid of the silence which reveals its emptiness-kierkegaard. Yep, you're seeing it! I just pulled out Kierkegaard. ...



IEVI's picture

The media might be pandering to the top 10%, but I don't think the other 90% really wants to hear the truth.

Alpha Monkey's picture

maybe 100% of the 90% don't want to hear the truth, but almost any percent that does, should be more than enough public interest to help keep the 10% in check.

Hephasteus's picture

That's how it works. Fill the world 90 percent who are stupid and believe anything. Then toss the 10 percent who know your full of shit into the mix and allow them to be driven crazy by the other 90 percent.

Sheikh Djibouti's picture

Here in our quiet tourist town in middle Europe we have given up our television, as there is a tax on it. So no more public TV contributions. Internet is where it's at.

CH1's picture

Internet is where it's at.


Corduroy's picture

Thanks for posting, was a timely reminder of our not so 'free' internet, and I will be forwarding the link on

disabledvet's picture

i find no sound or fury emmanating from the msm.  that's why i come here.  there was a famous video put out by the US Army upon our entrance into the war versus the German and it talked about the German machine gun known as the MG-42.  The title was "it's bark was worse than it's bite."  In fact "it's bite was your worst nightmare" and just the sound of the weapon was enough to cause a panic.  are markets so different?  "the worst MG-42's out there are the ones you don't know about."

fockewulf190's picture

Yeah, I saw that training movie you are talking about, praising the glories of a lower cyclic rate of US machine guns compared to the german machine guns.  Looky here troops!  That german MG only hit the target 11 times, while our slower, more controlled MG hit the target 14 times!  Don´t be afraid of that german noisemaker, we´re better!  And the sheeple blissfully go out to no man´s land and face the hail of lead with a smile of confidence.

Mae Kadoodie's picture

Pictures of Matchstick Men- Status Quo.

Rodent Freikorps's picture

They are journalism grads.

Do you really expect them to have the intellect to even have a clue they just spouting shit?

Yen Cross's picture

 You spout off and take knocks! What makes you any different? I think you're turning out just FINE!

Rodent Freikorps's picture

"My strength has the strength of ten because my heart is pure."


Yen Cross's picture

 Don't you ever forget what you just said! EVER



Racer's picture

"If all the major search engines relegated aggregator links to the basement and rewarded original content, that would help right the sinking ship."

And I rarely like to use the 'top search' that google gets paid for to put there .. often I like to use the other now out of favour search engines because they come with some pretty amazing links by comparison!


Use of Weapons's picture

This was news back in 1959.


Did I over-shoot in my delorian again? Ugh.

Derpin USA's picture

I am thoroughly convinced that it is humanity's nature to deny that things are wrong until the point it can no longer be denied. Coincidentally, this is also the point at which there's nothing much to do about it anymore.

We must go over the cliff before we realize we're going over the cliff. It is what we are.

Racer's picture

The banksters have honed the Milgram experiment..


Caviar Emptor's picture

Until not long ago news media was accused of being "yellow journalists" ie over-reporting bad news, scandals, crime, violence. That was the US news tradition from the time of Hurst. 

It all changed abruptly after 9-11

disabledvet's picture

i'll never forget the warnings about "rumor mongering" during the fall of 2008.  "be careful what you say"--so "just report the collapse" and "you get to keep your job."  This time is different though.  "Everybody went to the web to see what was going on."  And who are most of us?  "People who have various forms of inside knowledge."  Plus "the market is surging."  Can never be informed enough during a bull market, no?

CH1's picture

That's usually the way it goes, but that is not fundamentally what we are. [Insert LONG explanation here.]

CH1's picture

The only serious sources nowadays are newsletters.

Piranhanoia's picture

it is required by law to remove any content not understandable in english or in physical gesture, to the average 8th grade educated citizen for more than 30 seconds at a time. This way, even the severely inconvenienced will not feel embarrassment for not understanding the drivel that their theoretically more well developed viewer might laugh at, and thus, embarrass the entire country.  No child left behind, remember?

alien-IQ's picture

When News organizations became profit generating departments of a conglomerate, they ceased to be news organizations and became entertainment. And entertainment, is transient, fast and rarely deep.

There was a time when advertisers competed for space in the papers and Network News shows that had the most credibility (think CBS in the time of Walter Cronkite or the Washington Post after Watergate, 60 Minutes when the had balls). That is no longer the case. Now it is the exact opposite. Now it is the networks and newspapers that work to please the advertisers. And that usually comes in the form of being as superficial, entertainment oriented and non confrontational as possible. In effect...they must be everything that is the antithesis of a News organization.

the saddest part of this all: that IS what Americans want; Superficial, entertainment oriented and non confrontational "news".

And a dumbed down population cannot survive.

francis_sawyer's picture

Meddling with the primal forces of nature is so 1976...

StychoKiller's picture

Network News has done a mind-meld® with People Magazine™, and here we are!

Cdad's picture


This is a form of madness, a madness which goes unrecognized in the crazed, turbulent flood of "news."

Well said.  It does feel like madness, listening to ANY program over at the BlowHorn [CNBC].  The other side of the Greece bailout out and the BlowHorn is prattling on about The Hangover 2.  Gold will print an all time high, and some ass clown banker will be on talking about selling the VIX and getting long Netflix on the same day.  

As redpill has suggested, the debate can only be those in the MSM are either dumb as hell, or they are bought and paid for slaves of the criminal syndicate known as Wall Street.  Those are the options.  This as their ratings tank perpetually.

Anyone could see what was going on today, selling marked up winners into the gaping maws of the ETFs...but the BlowHorn never misses a beat suggesting this or that hot stock with apparently zero knowledge about how this intraday scam works...and consequently how it can come undone in nanoseconds.  I'm no rocket scientist, but it was pretty plain to see today.  The question then becomes who do these MSM folk really think they are fooling?  

Let me remind all of you who might post that everyone in America is watching Dancing with the Stars, Average Joe sparked the Tea Party revolt, and Average Joe, by and large, does not get his news from the MSM anymore, seeking better alternatives on the Internet.

Insanity.  Well said.

Even now, Cramer is going on about robust numbers out of Japan.  Huh?  Is he refering to Japanese auto production...and he is looking at the chart upside down?  



Vic Vinegar's picture

Don’t forget about Bloomberg…doesn’t Deidre Bolton follow ZH on twitter?  That means she’s popping red pills for breakfast, right?  And what about my boy Dom Chu... his fiery glare just screams “status quo challenger”

francis_sawyer's picture

Here's where Cramer got his info...

(notice it was from his 'agency' [0:03])



Seer's picture

"Average Joe sparked the Tea Party revolt"

Sparked, as in started?  If "started," then I'd have to disagree- it was the Koch brothers.