Gone are the days when citizens obtained their news from the morning newspaper and from the evening news. My parents started out getting their news from radio and the newspapers that proliferated the country. Journalism was an honored profession, sometimes called the fourth estate. Newspapers were and still are on occasion the conscience of the people in towns and cities across the land. Journalists were individuals who protected Americans by being guardians of the truth.
Now, in an era, where newspapers are disappearing, and are now reduced to weekly’s, we are watching cable news, we still watch the evening news and millions of Americans are listening to talk radio. Corporations now own many newspapers and cable networks and we are living in an era of the twenty-four hour news cycle. It has become more about entertainment than just giving us the facts, ma’am. There is often more eye candy than news to watch. In the process, truth has taken a beating and many of us have a hard time telling what to believe or what not to believe. How much of it is news fit to print and in the alternative, how much of what we hear and see is nothing other than an outlet to get someones self-serving point across? One would have thought of fact checking the news back in the day when Walter Cronkite was the most trusted man in America.
Conservative talk radio, and Republican candidates, brandishes about, the phrase, THE MEDIA, as if it is some new cuss word instead of the amorphous world that it is. Some of the commentators on talk radio deride the media as being part of some liberal bastion, while ignoring the fact that they too are part of the media.
People like Russ Limbaugh and Mark Levin have become the self-appointed messengers of all-knowing wisdom. Millions listen to them each day for their daily dosage of hucksters and vile and demeaning commentaries that spread division while masking their ministries as truth-telling, and country saving opinions.
Those who pay these gentlemen on conservative talk radio, are the faceless wealthy whose vision of America is clouded by ambition. These men, are unfriendly to Republican equality, as in a Republican form of government that Madison and Jefferson envisioned. Their wish is to sew the seeds of extremism and disunion. The daily scripts handed out to their talk show minions are designed to spread uneasiness among the people and their thoughts are designed to bring about change that is calculated to promote their own peculiar interests.
Clear Channel Communications was one of the companies that initially profited by spreading fear among our citizens of America. They were known for bringing Rush Limbaugh to the world. Bain Capital helped bail them out of financial difficulty. Bain Capital of Mitt Romney fame, that great company known for its outsourcing of American jobs. Our media has become a pale reminder of its past. Of course, we have always had news that was biased. We once had what was called yellow journalism. But now the news, resembles the National Inquirer more often than not, spreading rumors, half-truths and outright lies to the masses.
In one week last year, President Obama gave an important address on what our future involvement in Afghanistan would be. The news story of the day, was forgotten the next day when Charlie Sheen’s salacious story came out. Really, just when we should have had a national conversation on whether we should stay or leave Afghanistan we instead were having a conversation about Charlie’s latest drug episode or whether he would continue on his television show.
We have lost our sense of perspective and cultural values.
There is no such thing as a liberal media. There are newspapers and television shows from both sides of the political spectrum.
Newspapers for the most part have always had a particular political slant to their headlines but today they are out doing themselves. Even the time-honored 60 Minutes TV show was embarrassed by a recent story that they admitted to not being true.
Fox News, is something else, like Murdock’s other news outlets it is salacious in nature, and dishonestly biased while claiming to be the news station people can trust. They have what can be called talking heads on their network, competing for who can be the most outrageous.
Perhaps we can have the best of both worlds by having a return to the equal time provisions of public broadcasting when it comes to broadcasting the news, the real news.
There would be no problem in having talk radio and television shows to where the viewer knows in advance that they are watching opinion shows, entertainment. Just don’t mislead the public into thinking some program is a news show when it is not.
I just want the facts, the unvarnished truth. I don’t want the news spoon fed to me nor interpreted for me. I want to interpret information on my own. We need news and not opinion. Opinion belongs on the op-ed page of a newspaper or in an editorial. You can do that on television as well, through opinion types of shows and at the end of a broadcast when a person from the station gives the station’s opinion. It is difficult to tell these days between what is reported to be the facts and opinion.
Can the public trust in what is purported to be the news? Do we need to fact check the news? A network should be held responsible by the FCC for false information that is knowingly reported as facts. We need to have an informed public, and not one affected by biased news. Lies that go unchallenged contribute to ignorance and a misinformed public.
When news is used as propaganda our body politic suffers, and when news is used to foment fear and hate, factionalism wins and democracy loses.
During tough economic times, the purveyors of fear are more successful in bringing out our tendency as humans to want to be led and our want to be selfish.
We are all but human, after all, fear is such a key emotion that determines our inactions and our actions. Fear of change and fear of the unknown, fear of a different political philosophy or just a fear of strangers, these are emotions that the propagandist uses to his own ends.
We need to return to an appreciation of reason and hope instead of falling into the trap of listening to our fears. The media can be and should be an institution that we can trust to tell what is perceived to be the truth. They need to ask the hard questions of our leaders and we need to trust them to do so.