The media obsess over the weirdest things these days. They can write and talk for days over whether President Donald Trump has one scoop of ice cream or two, how many Diet Cokes he drinks a day, whether a psychologist who hasn’t examined the President personally is credible enough to speak on his mental fitness, and other minutia with literally nothing to do with actual news.
Maybe the news business has changed since I decided journalism and I should spend a few decades away from each other to get our heads straight. And I can assure you one of us has (and for once it’s me).
Whether you think today’s news is hard-hitting and factual or a DNC public relations release, we should spend a little time delving into what news has become.
What Leftists believe it means – information that needs to get into the public’s hands no matter what
What it really means – political narratives with bylines
When we think back to how newscasters and reporters used to report the day’s events, it wasn’t remarkable. The stories they covered may have been, but they tended not to wear their ideologies on their sleeves. You got the facts and were left to make up your mind on how to think about them.
Today? Not so much. In fact, according to MSNBC’s Mika “I’m a Barbie Girl in a Newsie World” Brzezinski, the media’s job is to “control what people think.” And she’s not alone. During the Obama Administration, news figures said it was their jobs to help the President. Now that Trump’s in office, those same news figures are upset at how “soft” their coverage has become.
From watchdogs to lapdogs, kids.
The truth of the matter is news isn’t about helping or hurting a President or control what people think. News should only be about, well, news. There is a vast difference between a news show and an opinion show, just like there is a difference between a news article and an opinion piece. The difference is how facts are presented.
Let’s say you see a car accident outside your living room window. As a witness, the police may ask you to provide your account of what happened. They don’t care about your opinions on seatbelt laws or cracking down on distracted driving; they want details so they can investigate the matter further. In the days of Edward R. Murrow, reporters treated news like that. No fluff, no personal insights, just information.
So, how did we get from there to here? A change in culture and politics. During the 60s and 70s, the youth became more socially conscious (which isn’t a bad thing, necessarily) and believed they could change the world (also, not a bad thing in and of itself). Then, they discovered Leftist ideas (which is a bad thing), and the rest is history. By embracing ideas that work great on paper, but suck when implemented, the youth of the 60s and 70s became the adults of the 80s, 90s, and today, and they put their feelings ahead of facts. And that mindset infiltrated the media, which lead to seeing newspeople asking Hillary Clinton what kind of dessert she likes to have while delving into the “dark history” of Sarah Palin’s son’s girlfriend’s mother’s dog groomer’s cousin’s accountant’s pet sitter’s favorite teacher because if Palin associated with that kind of person, she’s utterly unfit to be a political leader!
And when they’re not trying to tear down any Right-leaning person for an overdue library book, these same serious news reporters fawn all over celebrities. What kind of pizza does Taylor Swift order? Find out in this multi-page article in the New York Times! Want to know the secret behind all things Kardashian? Watch this 6 minute news video! Do you absolutely need to know what is going through Nikki Minaj’s mind right now?
It’s air. I saved you from having to find out on your national newscasts. You’re welcome.
News organizations tell us the crap they’re serving us as news is what we ask for, and it’s not their fault we demand dreck. Although there are some people who do (I’m looking right at you, Jerry Springer fans), some of us want more. Let’s have a news report on global climate change where both sides are presented in a fair and balanced light and let us decide for ourselves what needs to be done. Ditto with racism, gay rights, Islam, and other controversial topics.
But the news people can’t do that. They feel anything that is outside of their ideological bubble isn’t worth discussing. There’s a reason these people call the land between the East and West Coasts “flyover country” and it’s not because they’re high when they travel through this part of the country. (Although, given what they choose to report, drug use isn’t completely off the table.) It’s because these serious news reporters don’t think anything happens here. In fact, if they had their druthers, they wouldn’t venture outside of Manhattan or Los Angeles to track down a story.
Which is part of the problem. The minute you start purposely excluding yourself from potential stories, the minute you cease being a good reporter and become a stenographer for whatever ideology you deny you have in public. But, then don’t call yourselves news people.
My rule of thumb when it comes to news is Ronald Reagan’s “Trust, but verify.” Seek out multiple sources of information, paying close attention to what is being said and how it’s being said. There are subtle clues in turns of a phrase that will reveal the leanings of a writer or reporter, but you have to be looking for them. And, yes, my Leftist friends, that includes Fox News, Breitbart, and other right-leaning sources.
In the meantime, maybe the news folks will get the hint if we start ignoring them. Or, if you can’t do that, do what I do and point and laugh at them. I hear Jim Acosta is particularly salty about being mocked.