Babylon 5–The Illusion of Truth (1997)   2 comments

The Interstellar News Network (ISN), under the control of President William Morgan Clark, seems to have taken the FOX News Channel as one of its models:  flashy graphics combined with faux journalism and reactionary politics.


Propaganda is part of President Clark’s post-Shadow War campaign against Captain Sheridan and our heroes on Babylon 5.  Such “journalism” features prominently in The Illusion of Truth, and it looks both old and contemporary.

ISN “journalist” Dan Randall arrives on Babylon 5, promising to prepare a truthful broadcast.  Sheridan, being no fool, knows he probably will not get that, but he has a plan to make the creation of propaganda more difficult.  He will hide nothing while speaking honestly and in simple and short declarative sentences.  He states his reasons for seceding from the Earth Alliance and says that he loves Delenn, when asked.  And Lennier, Delenn’s aide, takes Randall on a tour of the station.

Yet the big lie lives on.

Dan Randall, On the Air

The broadcast is pure Clark propaganda, complete with future analogies to McCarthyism:  Senate hearings of alien government infiltration of the entertainment industry, people naming names and giving “voluntary” confessions under duress, et cetera.  And the coverage of the rebellion on Mars uses the term “New Red Menace.”  The names of the alleged Human agents of alien governments attempting to subvert Earth sovereignty sound much like those of people blacklisted during the McCarthy era in the United States, and the similarity is intentional.

President Clark is portraying himself as the champion of Earth sovereignty while trampling on the civil liberties of dissidents.  As the late, great Samuel Johnson remarked, “Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel.”

Dan Randall’s report uses carefully edited and out-of-context footage, combined with unapologetic xenophobia, to portray Babylon 5 as a place where the evil aliens are in charge and oppress Humans, where Sheridan is a pawn and a victim of “Minbari War Syndrome,” or identifying too much with aliens and siding against one’s own Human race.  And Randall states that aliens are transforming Humans into hybrids, Dr. Moreau-style, as part of a plan to conquer the Human race.  It is pure drivel, of course.

Below:  The Harvard University-based Xenopsychologist who explains Minbari War Syndrome

At this point in the Babylon 5 story arc President Clark is laying the groundwork for “liberating” B5.  He has many willing accomplices, who lie through their smiling teeth and sincere looks.

The stakes are rising for our heroes, not that the stakes were ever low.

Conflict is an essential element of good drama.  If everybody gets along famously and pleasantly, there is no drama.  Babylon 5 has drama to spare, and that fact helps explain why the series is so exceptional.



All images are property of Warner Brothers, and I do not profit from said images.

Posted August 4, 2010 by neatnik2009 in Babylon 5 Season 4

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