I was a little kid when I remember watching the evening news on the major networks back in the 1970’s. We had Walter Cronkite and David Brinkley, with Tom Brokaw just breaking into his own. We all got around the Zenith television set, some lucky enough to have that clunky remote control that actually turned that tight channel knob. It was a first chance to find out what happened that day in the world.
When watching the evening news, it was a network’s loss leader. The profit motive was not involved in the station’s financial budget. In a way, it was a noble call to duty; An act of giving to the American populist who wanted to be more informed, not entertained. The media were looked upon as giants in the world. Skepticism and biases were kept in check. It was also the only way to be a consumer of news every day.
Oh have times changed. We now get a smidgen of world news events, and instead, we are hypnotized for hours on end regarding one ‘subject of the day’ until they milk it more than a cow. The graphics come at you to make everything look urgent. The promos are more and more looking like sports or movie trailers. The ‘so-called’ anchors use hyperbole so frequently that we are now numb to the next flash of “This is breaking news.”
If the ‘news’ was not watered down enough, we now have many other means of getting our dose of ‘supposed information.’ Just go to Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, thousands of online news platforms like the Huffington Post, Breitbart News, The Daily Beast, Politico and TMZ…some of these are the popular ones that give ‘some facts,’ while others on that list disseminate pure bias and hate.
The new twist for the ‘American sucker’ (that is how the media sees us, not my opinion) is to put out ‘fake news’ under the auspices of ‘real news.’ They create a web page that is akin to a sleazy telemarketer in the news business, only trying to create division or manipulate our thinking. It is astounding to me that people will not even do the most simple fact check and Google the subject and see if any ‘main stream media’ has published anything about that subject. We might as well be hooked up to mind altering drugs during a hypnotic session.
Why is this happening? I have a few thoughts we should ponder
Number one: The media is only interested in ratings and money. They say they are giving the public what they want. So, if the public wants to eat only candy for dinner, should we get rid of the meat and fish section at the supermarket? There has been an unmistakable merge of news and reality show entertainment. Why do you think Trump got over 2 billion dollars of free advertisement time? It’s because he manipulated the media, played them for fools, all to get the next shocking statement so their ‘paid pundits’ could opine for 24-72 hours straight without mentioning the massive floods in Myanmar, or the falling Mexican Peso. It is the old adage of which comes first, “The chicken or the egg.” The media have become stock market whores.
Number two: I remember the time that facts mattered. A fact is a fact, as the motto goes. However, in this election, where objectively by fact checkers , President Elect Trump only told the truth 15% of the time. He told “false” and “pants on fire” lies 51% of the time! All I can say is wow! Since these are facts, why hasn’t the media called Trump out on these objective stats? It is one thing for loyal Trump supporters to overlook these lies because they wanted change or despised Hillary Clinton, but it is another for the media to simply accept these lies as if facts do not matter anymore. I thought I would never see the day where we are now living in a fact free world. This is a very dangerous precedent and the ramifications could be catastrophic as bias media platforms will peddle these lie as if they are true. It is incumbent on real journalists to take on outright lies and not let up.
Number Three: The media has been manipulated by the master manipulator, President Elect Donald Trump. I got to give ‘The Donald’ credit. He is in a league of his own. I have never seen such a skilled person be so savvy with the media. He masterfully called out the media for ‘being corrupt.’ He said it over and over again with the precision of a scalpel, so that it became a self-fulfilling prophecy. The marketing genius of Donald Trump is that by putting the media on the defensive, the media over-corrected so that they seemed fair. By doing so, the media became a servant to Donald Trump and they laid off of him.
Without a stalwart media, the likes of which we once had decades ago, we are living in a very scary time, where we will have no place to find the truth.