Is there any hope for a truly unbiased media? A media that at least makes more than a tiny token effort to be impartial? I can’t help but think it is a Quixotian endeavor, but maybe, just maybe, there are journalists out with a shred of old fashioned reporter left in them.
I’ve never had a very high opinion of journalism, perhaps because I’ve never seen much to admire in that profession. It doesn’t surprise me to see the deliberate manipulation and supression of information in order to elect the media’s favored choice. As far back as I can remember, newspapers endorsed particular candidates, televised reporters were anything but subtle about whom their favorites were, and I just figure that coverage of the 2008 election is a logical progression in a long chain of bias.
I know that’s not the ideal. I know that a free press–a truly free press–is able and willing to report on all sides of any issue, to present not just part of the story, but the whole story, all the information, all the facts.
A noble goal. One they could at least attempt to reach. Or at least give some token gesture toward.
Orson Scott Card points out,
I remember reading All the President’s Men and thinking: That’s journalism. You do what it takes to get the truth and you lay it before the public, because the public has a right to know.
In light of the way the media is treating this election, he asks, Would the last honest reporter please turn out the lights?
The Achoress reminds us
That Liberty lives where people can speak freely, without fear of injury or reprisals. That Liberty lives only when the press is free and unencumbered – when it is detached from events instead of entwined in them.
Despite their articulate and urgent entreaties to reason, until I read Michael Malone, I didn’t really understand what we’ve lost in the selling out of the media. And I couldn’t figure out why journalists had become such puppets.
Who are the real villains in this story of mainstream media betrayal?
The editors. The men and women you don’t see; the people who not only decide what goes in the paper, but what doesn’t; the managers who give the reporters their assignments and lay-out the editorial pages. They are the real culprits.
Why? I think I know, because had my life taken a different path, I could have been one: Picture yourself in your 50s in a job where you’ve spent 30 years working your way to the top, to the cockpit of power . . . only to discover that you’re presiding over a dying industry. The Internet and alternative media are stealing your readers, your advertisers and your top young talent. Many of your peers shrewdly took golden parachutes and disappeared. Your job doesn’t have anywhere near the power and influence it did when your started your climb. The Newspaper Guild is too weak to protect you any more, and there is a very good chance you’ll lose your job before you cross that finish line, ten years hence, of retirement and a pension.
In other words, you are facing career catastrophe -and desperate times call for desperate measures. Even if you have to risk everything on a single Hail Mary play. Even if you have to compromise the principles that got you here. After all, newspapers and network news are doomed anyway – all that counts is keeping them on life support until you can retire.
And then the opportunity presents itself: an attractive young candidate whose politics likely matches yours, but more important, he offers the prospect of a transformed Washington with the power to fix everything that has gone wrong in your career. With luck, this monolithic, single-party government will crush the alternative media via a revived Fairness Doctrine, re-invigorate unions by getting rid of secret votes, and just maybe, be beholden to people like you in the traditional media for getting it there.
More than anything I’ve heard or read about the causes of media bias, that makes perfect sense.
I suspect we are too far gone as a nation to take heed. We’ve been conditioned to be entertained by the media, to let go of discernment and to not question what we’re told and shown. Reality TV–which is anything but unscripted–has lulled us into believing that we’re in control of what we’re shown, and we completely ignore all the manipulation going on right before our eyes.
Tonight I took my youngest son to Blockbuster to rent a movie. As we went to pay for our movie, we walked past a display of Obama dvds, and a rack of magazines, four of which had Obama’s face on the cover. This was front and center:
Third time this year Rolling Stone has done an Obama cover. At least he doesn’t look like the Archangel Gabriel, backlit halo and all, on this one. I wasn’t surprised to see it, nor the other magazine covers; the entertainment industry in general welcomed Obama as Messiah the minute he announce his bid for office.
Youngest son, who may be only 12 but is not stupid, commented “Mom, Obama is everywhere. It’s like he’s watching us.”
Indeed. Someone is certainly is watching us, and controlling what we see and hear about Obama and McCain.
Vladimir Lenin once said,
“The press should be not only a collective propagandist and a collective agitator, but also a collective organizer of the masses”
Wow, was he ever accurate. Thomas Jefferson is no doubt rolling in his grave, because he believed
“The most effectual engines for [pacifying a nation] are the public papers… [A despotic] government always [keeps] a kind of standing army of newswriters who, without any regard to truth or to what should be like truth, [invent] and put into the papers whatever might serve the ministers. This suffices with the mass of the people who have no means of distinguishing the false from the true paragraphs of a newspaper.”
What would he make of today’s “free press?” Well, Jefferson also said,
“The man who never looks into a newspaper is better informed than he who reads them, inasmuch as he who knows nothing is nearer to truth than he whose mind is filled with falsehoods and errors. He who reads nothing will still learn the great facts, and the details are all false.”