journalism as it’s being practiced today. There are some who excel at their profession, but there are far more who stink up the profession. (I’m looking right at you, Jim Acosta.)
Since we’re getting close to the State of the Union Address, I figured I’d give my own twist on it focusing on the state of journalism today.
Hey, media knuckleheads. I’ll bet you weren’t expecting someone to insult you right out of the gate like that because you’re important, but let me tell you something. You’re not as important as you think you are. If anything, you’re becoming more and more irrelevant by the day.
And it’s not a new phenomenon, either. For eight years, you rolled over like faithful lapdogs at everything President Barack Obama said or did and held him about as accountable as Massachusetts held Ted Kennedy. Now that there is a Republican in the Oval Office, and one that you find particularly nasty, you act like the watchdogs and guard dogs you claim you’ve always been. That notion may fly with your fellow talking airheads, but not with me. You have let your personal opinions poison your profession. Well, that, and you’re pretty much dunderheads.
By this time, you’re probably ready to write scathing responses to my statements. Good. It will give me much to laugh at while you fume. As brave as you think you are, it takes no courage to stand up against someone you hate. It takes courage to stand up against someone you love. And, yes, I know you’re fond of saying you don’t take sides, but you do.
Just take at look at how you’ve covered the border crisis. If your reporting were more ham-fisted, it wouldn’t be kosher or halal. And before you get indignant, let me point out you were caught trying to pass off photos from 2014 as photos from last year. And who was President in 2014? Why, it was Barack Obama! You know, the President you fawned over like women at an Ed Sherran concert while he was implicated in crimes and general incompetence that you should have reported? Please, go on about how you’re the real deal when you spent time covering Obama’s NCAA Final Four picks.
That’s one of the reasons people don’t trust you to report the facts: you’re dishonest. If you tell lies enough times and get caught, people stop listening to you. And, news flash kids, fewer and fewer people are listening to you for that very reason. Granted, some might stop listening because you’re not telling them the truth they want to hear, but most people stopped listening when they realized you lied about something meaningful to them. When the people charged with telling the truth get caught in lie after lie over trivial matters, they tend not to listen when the real news hits.
I know why you lie, and it’s not hard to figure out. You let your desire for fame, ideological purity, and egos get in the way of your job. You’re basically like Congress, only you have to pay your own bar tabs. You think you’re one story away from being the next Woodward and Bernstein, but you’re closer to Joanne and Leonard than you are to Bob and Carl. A huge part of that is you went into journalism for the wrong reasons. Journalists are not supposed to be the centers of attention on a story, or ever for that matter, because they are supposed to work behind the scenes to keep those in power in check. When you trade in the role of watchmen for that of media darling, it gets harder to keep the powerful on their toes because you think you become one of them. They will let you into their circles and talk you up, but only so long as they think you’re useful to them in some capacity. And no matter what kind of crap they do to you, you will go along with it because you like being noticed. But know this. They won’t lift a finger to help you if you can no longer help them. To them, you are just the hired help.
So, why keep doing it? Do you like to be treated worse than Louis Farrakhan at a bar mitzvah? Are you still struggling with self-image issues from high school because you weren’t one of the “cool kids”? Or are you so delusional as to think you can be the one to become one of the elite? Whatever it is, it’s not working. You are writing checks your egos can’t cash, and justifiably so. Whatever worth you once had is waning, and you’re stuck looking for answers.
Here’s a helpful hint from your ole pal Thomas. Instead of chasing celebrity, chase leads. And, no, whatever Beyonce and Jay Z are doing/wearing/hawking. Do some real reporting for a change. If you think there’s something to the Trump Russia story, do some digging and figure out where the bodies are buried, regardless of whether you agree with the outcome. There are some things more important than being allowed into exclusive parties, and one of those things is the truth. The reason Donald Trump keeps outmaneuvering your best efforts to bring him down is because he’s spent enough time around you to know your habits. Break those habits and hit the beat for a change, and you’ll find out more information about him and his political fans than you ever could by attending elegant dinner parties with celebrities and collectively looking your nose down at the rest of the country, as you are wont to do.
And as far as your haughty attitudes, dump those, too. You’re not better than us because of where you work or who you cover. You’re basically history’s steno pool, and you’re not even doing that right (which is ironic given how concerned you are about being on the “right side of history.”) Try being on the right side of the factual divide for a change. Write stories with actual facts and actual sources, not the scuttlebutt you might hear around the office water cooler, and people might start trusting you again.
Something else that will go a long way with people is to honestly apologize for your screw-ups and show them you’re working to fix them. And, yes, that means being willing to show multiple sides of an issue. Even if you think that side is bat-crap crazy, you owe it to your audience to show us that side and let us make up our own minds. We may not have gone to Columbia Journalism School, but we’re not dullards. Okay, some of us may be dullards, but that doesn’t remove your responsibility to deal straight with us as people, not as mindless sheep.
In closing, the state of journalism today is sorrier than a televangelist getting caught using church funds to get hookers and blow. The only way to fix that is to get better at what you do, and that starts with you. You tell us you’re only reporting on what we want, but that’s not exactly true. You’re reporting what you want us to think we want. That power corrupts absolutely, and you’ve abused that power like Ike abused Tina. Don’t shape our opinions for us; let us shape them.
And put a muzzle on Acosta, would ya?