Edition: 022117b – Words: 1179 – Audio: 10:01
In part 1 I discussed four of the five points I was using to illustrate the media’s role in our country. The idea was, and still is, to suggest an alternative thought approach toward this popular idea that the press, the media, whatever, is hell-bent on upsetting America to its own ends. Here’s a quick review.
- Point 1: Does the press have an official mandate from somewhere to report the news accurately? While the Constitution allows freedom of speech and the press there is no mention that the media must be truthful any more than the free speech that is allowed to any of us. Media companies determine content of their news. But libel laws and competition for viewers provide a basic system of checks & balances for reporting facts. Is it 100% perfect? Of course not. But it’s the best we have.
- Point 2: What about tone and context? This is by far the single driving force for hating the press. It’s one thing to report the news but a totally different arena in giving opinion at the same time. That shifts the tone and context of news reporting with the viewer/reader/listener. Even if the news anchor presents the news in some unbiased delivery, he’s got 2 to 6 talking heads sitting with him/her to provide spin. There‘s no way to avoid a perception of reporting bias… especially when one talking head comes on with a stronger viewpoint than the opposing heads. BUT.. this is how we like our news, according to marketing demographics.
- Point 3: News reporting is always adversarial. Pretty much. It’s the nature of reporting to exhaust all angles. We have a two-party political system. One side likes something the other side doesn’t and both want the media to report on their side.
- Point 4: But the press is so liberally biased. It’s likely not as biased as is often suggested BUT it’s also just as likely that the press shows the normal human bias toward liberal thought, political or social or moral. But again, is it the reporting of the news that’s liberally biased or is it the opinions of the talking heads that are diluting (or polluting) factual reporting ?
That brings us to where we are at now…
Point 5 – Isn’t there some responsibility with the viewer/reader/listener? While competition helps to retain credibility in truth and accuracy in media reporting it does not absolve the listener/reader/viewer from the responsibility to understand the limitations of what to believe, how much to believe, and using plain common sense to form their own opinion. And, yes, in a subliminal way we WANT the media to form our individual opinions because we are too busy going on with our lives. Issues are so extraordinarily complex these days that it’s nearly impossible for one person to research the world just to form an independent opinion. The media can and does sway many of us but that’s because we allow that.. we surrender that part of us that acknowledges our personal inability to devote time and effort to learn both sides of an issue, and we welcome the media for clarifying it for us. Now, I am not suggesting that’s right or wrong. As we travel through life we learn to adapt and compromise. What I am saying is that as Americans in this day and age we best recognize that this co-dependent situation does exist between the media and the public. It’s all about understanding what is going on.. and determining for your own opinionated well-being how much media you wish to accept and evaluate.
Here’s the point to all of this, folks. If you hate the press then all we have to blame is ourselves because the mainstream press is not making all this up and shoving it down our collective throats. They are in the business to make money for their stockholders… the American way. They are presenting it in a way the marketing demographics indicate would work given our insatiable need for instant gratification. Apparently if people hate the press then the press must be doing something right. Honestly all the TV and cable news networks need to do to make themselves more lovable, if that’s their goal, is to remove the opinion from the news. Go back to the old days of Walter Cronkite, Dan Rather… the evening news the way it used to be. All presented inside 30 minutes. Then we can all go back to watching Gilligan’s Island.
The press people include a large number of true professionals, most educated to the hilt in some way… and most making pretty good money. It’s hard to imagine them reporting constantly about all the negative things in life and not feeling “liberal” from their well-to-do economic perch. They are only human too. They think they are doing an exhausting job giving the public what they want, hence their disappointment with Trump making an issue of the press being fake news. My recommendation to the members of the press, focus on what you’ve been doing… reporting the news. If people hate you then you are doing your job. Don’t try and defend yourselves. People are obviously watching. If a president openly hates you then more people will watch you. If a president declares war on you then you’ve won Olympic gold as the Fourth Estate… exposing that which needs exposing. and letting the public-at-large decide what to do next, from grass roots to Congress.
To my fellow Americans who hate the press (including presidents)… just deal with it. The mainstream press reflects society and if you are a politician then the first lesson you should have had is how to work with the press… which includes knowing when to shut up during an interview… and when to use them to your advantage. The press hasn’t made your life miserable… there are other reasons for that (especially regarding Trump).
You might be thinking that my whole tirade here is just another liberal pro-press affirmation. No. It’s just I don’t believe the entire news profession is in cahoots to make Americans… or your fave politician… suffer. That’s absolutely ridiculous. That’s all a smokescreen for the real issues at hand. This Trumpian tendency toward juvenile whining about the press is just his attempt to deflect criticism. Now, if you are truly serious about hating the press, simply don’t watch it, read it, or listen to it. That will get them right in their collective pocketbooks. If Trump’s power base is the 46% that got him elected and that power base all decided, en masse, to avoid news of any kind, the media would definitely notice. Otherwise, just shut up about it and quit using the media as an excuse.
Carry on, America.