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In the rear view mirror – the news.

December 26, 2017

What is the role of the media? Is it to make news, or report it?

There used to be a certain expectation that  journalists would report all issues factually and let the public make up its mind on any given issue.

You know, the idea that we should have both a free and fair press.

An example of that would be to report that under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act,  tax breaks for individuals will expire in ten years unless renewed by a subsequent Congress, but to also present the fact that the reason for that was due to certain Senate rules under the reconciliation process, rather than political bias.

That’s not to say the media has never before slanted anything.

We know now that John Kennedy was at the very least a connoisseur of beautiful women other than his wife, and that FDR was far more physically handicapped than the media let on.

Still, something truly disturbing seems to have evolved under the protection of the First Amendment..

The media, left and right, has been thrust into the position of becoming one party or the others PR department. In the process, the public’s right to know has come off second best.

One hair being split is whether the opinion section has become the master of the journalism section.

It is naïve to say that the MSNBC program “Morning Joe” or the Fox News’ “Hannity” program should be viewed as entertainment or opinion, while “World News Tonight” or Fox’s “America’s Newsroom” contain only unbiased journalism and should therefore be considered factually superior.

To the public, they are all the same.

The myth of the Fair Press.

The news media is an industry,  just like making cars or phones.

The press has always leaned toward revenue, and what it took to keep it flowing. To stay in business, the news media, whether newspapers or radio or TV to now the internet giants like Facebook, have to make money from its very dry product, which is information.

To that end the news industry needs to appeal to as many people as possible. After all, 1/10 of the population, the super wealthy, aren’t going to buy enough subscriptions or support enough advertisers to pay the bills. To put it another way, people need a reason to buy the paper or place their ads on a given channel or web page.

That means people have to be interested in the news.

To foster interest there has to be some sort of conflict or drama. The Dallas Cowboys playing the Dallas Cowboys wouldn’t fill many arena seats.

When there were very few newspapers it was easy to have a captive audience, but as each generation passed the competition increased.

In the 1940’s the focus was a World War. Today, the drama and competition is derived from politics.

Except that there isn’t a lot of competition when numerous surveys report that as much as 91% of all media coverage is hostile to the President.

When the “news” is that one-sided, it’s hard to call it “reporting” any more.

More disturbing is that the other 9% that does report either favorably or at least fairly on this administration is itself under attack.

That begins to sound very much like suppression of free speech.

Free speech has two sides.

You can argue about tenor and tone, but there shouldn’t be an argument about the right to think differently from your neighbor.

Today we have an increasingly greater shift towards propaganda and away from informed reporting.

There really are two sides to every argument.  If we can’t have both sides from one source, then we need a Fox News AND an MSNBC.

History may well record Donald Trump as one of the least expected successful Presidents.

Then again, it may record him as the President deliberately destroyed by the media.

There is a reason why “fake news” has become a catchword and 65% of people surveyed believe the media indulges in inventing the news instead of reporting it.

Take the case of the Mueller probe.

At no time has the President sought to shut it down, yet the liberal media has kept up a steady mind-numbing  drumbeat telling us that he has, or will.

In reality, considering that all the side excursions into the role of Russia in the election have led as often to the Clinton campaign as it has to the Trump people,  it seems that it would be more to the Democrats advantage to shut it down than it would be to Trump’s advantage.

Obviously they can’t exactly call for that now, so the next best thing is to see if they can get it shut down by the administration, or at least blame it on the Trump administration if the probe  does not come up with the desired conclusions.

That’s just one of hundreds of examples of what you might call creative news production.

The news industry has apparently found greater profit in telling us what to think, rather than just giving us something to think about.

It’s hard to believe that’s what the Founding Fathers had in  mind when they gave the press constitutional protection.

From → op-ed

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