From Moyers & Company on 4/27/12. Quotes from Kaplan:
“We are programmed to love stories. That is in our genes. Our wiring says, that when you say ‘Once upon a time’, I am hooked. When you show me conflict between two people, I want to know who is going to win. That’s how it’s always been. And, it happens that politics is now the substance, and televeision is now the medium, in which to bedazzle us, to enthrall us, which means enslave us, just as it has been all through human history.”
“24,” that TV series, is a favorite example of mine.
It was a rogue C.I.A. agent played by Kiefer Sutherland. And often the storyline would turn on his using torture because some terrible thing was about to happen. And even though it was against the rules, he knew that that was something you had to do. You had to overrule the handbook at moments like this. And then he would get the information from the suspect.
The problem is that torture doesn’t work. Not only is it illegal and immoral, it doesn’t produce the kind of information we want. But the cadets at West Point, who are watching “24,” decided, involuntarily, “Well, that’s how it works.” So that even though their textbooks, even though their teachers in class were telling them, “Torture’s wrong and it doesn’t work.” Even though that was happening, they were absorbing the lesson of this melodrama on television.
And it was so scary to the military brass that the dean of West Point had to go to Hollywood and plead with the shows not to do it. To tell them, “You have the power. You have a power that is beyond what you understand. And with that power comes responsibility. So please understand you can work black magic on our troops. Don’t do that.”
The American people, Kaplan points out, have given permission to networks to use the air waves. Just one of those networks, CBS, will have a profit increase of 180 million this year from political advertising. CEO Les Moonves commented: