Press "Enter" to skip to content

Posts tagged as “media”

A media swamp

raineylogo1

Along with all the fundamental societal changes going on, over, under and around us these days, the media is wandering into a swamp from which it won’t escape in anything recognizable or familiar. In fact, on the national level, it’s already there.

Though I’ve spent much of my life in and around a lot of media, unless you’re a stranger to these irregular musings, you know I’ve become one of its more severe critics. Trust, balance, accuracy, responsibility - all have eroded. To find such descriptive media qualities, you’ve now got to ignore much of it, and go searching for what little remains that’s worth your time. That search is getting more difficult.

The swamp - as I’ve begun to call it - is this. While all media has traditionally been relied upon to report, some are now taking on the irresponsible additional step of deciding what’s true and what’s not and mixing the two. Rather than report and letting you decide, which as been the basic maxim historically, media outlets have entered into the “we-report-we’ll-tell-you-what-to-believe” mode.

This phenomenon has been around for some time, but it’s being raised to a new level. It now involves more of the traditional “straight down the middle” institutions who’ve used editorial and opinion pages in the past for expressing viewpoints or positions on this, that and the other.

No more. And if you want to pinpoint where much of the change recently began, look no further than the Republican Presidential Primary. In fact, you can hone it down even more. It’s spelled T-R-U-M-P.

For many years, larger newspapers and some TV outlets have used what they euphemistically called “fact check” features. While reporting the basic event, they’d set aside some space or time to “fact check” and note where the subject of their coverage veered into half-truths or no truths. That’s been considered acceptable and with which I have no problem.

But now, things have gone beyond that to glaring headlines of criticism or opinion. Stories now too often lead with something like “Trump crazily attacks Bush.” Or “Trump irresponsibly harkens to practices of Nazis.” Or “The Donald falsely blames Obama for inaction.” A headline designed to get you to read by adding a twist of sensationalism and opinion. Right wing media has done that for many years. Now, more moderate and mainstream media have joined in.

I’ve a theory for this unsavory practice. For what it’s worth, I think Trump - and in some cases Cruz, Fiorina, Carson, Huckabee and others - have made such outrageous statements or claims that editors and publishers finally felt it was time to openly rebut. I used to often feel that way. But an old friend - for whom I have much respect - always said “You report and let the audience/reader sort it out.” He was right. Then.

But the level of political discourse has, I believe, become so filled with half-truths, irresponsible claims and outright lies that much of the media has stepped over the line. Additionally, the fact that Trump - in particular - can utter such bald-faced lies and not lose support, has driven the media into this swamp. He continues his inflammatory and fact-less campaign saying things that should have killed him in the polls. But it hasn’t. And in some polls, his support has risen.

Where my wise friend offered good advice 40 years ago, we’re seeing daily proof that too many people - especially those supporting Trump and Cruz - don’t know enough about their government or true conditions today to be able to “sort it out.” Or don’t care. I’ve watched interviews with more than one Trump follower who acknowledge his lies about something but say all politicians lie and they would just ignore Trump’s B.S..

Trump and some of the others are playing to fears of these folks - educated or not - with racist demagoguery, religious bigotry and offering false promises of security and setting everything right. Back to where it was. Before the fears. In doing so, they’re playing to people who want reassurances - honest or not - that things will “get back to normal.”

The Republican presidential campaign has, thus far, been an embarrassment to the nation, the world and - especially - to what remains of the GOP. It’s been filled with totally unqualified candidates, spouting verbal garbage and showing their ignorance of how our government works. When it works. Billionaires have gutted the party by going around it with their bags of bucks and have tossed Prebius and what remains into the gutter. No one - no one - is stepping up to salvage the Republican Party and restore it as our second national political representative which we badly need.

Still, from a perspective of responsible journalism, there’s no excuse for the national media being both the reporter and the debunking mechanism as it’s now doing. This campaign will - God willing - end some day soon. Whoever’s left standing - Republican or Democrat - is going to have to pick up the pieces and form a functioning government. And we’ll need a responsible media to help inform and restore public faith in that new government. That can’t happen if the national media has made itself into some sort of judgmental messenger.

Trump, Huckabee, Fiorina, Huckabee and some others are - in my opinion - unfit for public office at any level. But a media openly judging and denouncing our affairs as “reporting”scares me even more.

Enough, already

raineylogo1

To regain some semblance of peace of mind and order in my life, and at the risk of alienating anyone who comes upon these words, I gotta say it: I’ve heard enough of Caitlyn and/orBruce Jenner and all her/his in-laws in the Kardasian family to ever want to hear the names of any of them ever again!

There. I’ve said it. And I’m glad! GLAD, do you hear?

The media’s obsession with anything Kardasian for a couple of years now has been mind-numbing and supremely irritating. This bunch of talent-less, overly made-up society wannabe’s has been overexposed in every media you can think of. And, in just about any way imaginable. Aside from putting money back into the economy by over-the-top spending on things totally unnecessary, nothing and no one named Kardasian has contributed anything meaningful or otherwise important to society from the git-go. They are takers - not givers. They live off the fatheads of the land - and media overexposure - giving nothing back.

As for Jenner, my ire is less directed at her as it is the damned media for creating an environment in which none of us can escape the latest beauty shot or the latest completely unimportant quote about the gender transformation and all other aspects of her new life.

I’ve admired Bruce Jenner’s athletic achievements over the decades since his amazing Olympic decathlon win. You don’t do what he did without supreme dedication and an inner drive most of us never know. Athletic excellence. He whipped all comers in all events of the competition and deserved all the Wheaties boxes we saw on breakfast tables for years. Well done, Sir! Well done!

But - that was then. This is now. I neither praise nor condemn what Jenner has decided to do about his sexual identity. His life. His body. His decision - based on whatever personal prompting has caused him to take the action. The singular fact which has given him such massive over-exposure in recent months is that he was somewhat famous for his athletic feats all those years ago. AND - wait for it - he married into the Kardasian clan. That bunch of overly made-up wastrels national media can’t get enough of.

The life-altering course Jenner has set for himself is his and his alone. While his previous athletic accomplishments probably guaranteed media attention to some degree, it should be remembered gender altering is not new. Nor, is it especially noteworthy in our times. For some, complete gender change means surgery - a medical procedure not uncommon in world operating suites. As taxpayers, we’ve paid for convicted criminals to do it behind bars. We’ve even got one person in a federal slammer for betraying national secrets who’s making a physical switch. On our tab.

This morning, as I shuffled through the daily reading of The Huffington Post, I found an article on the front page about a public appearance Jenner made recently. With picture. Continuing through the various sections, I found three more Jenner “stories.” All with pictures! All in the same issue.

At the moment, this nation is deeply involved in a terribly important discussion of a nuclear treaty with Iran - racial problems from border to border - a congress full of deadheads doing their damndest to drive us into the ditch - a Mideast cauldron boiling near the spillover point - people hungry in the streets - homelessness in never-before-seen numbers - the first phase of a presidential contest filled with the most unqualified and, in some cases, outright contemptible “candidates.”

But instead of thoughtful, descriptive and thorough reporting on all this, our media is filled with Jenner and her in-laws.

It would be easy to fault the media. It’d be even easier to cast blame by the boatload on ‘em for the mindless electronic invasion of nothingness. But the fault really is us. You and me. If television ratings, focus groups, “Q” scores and other accepted indicators of public interest, weren’t hugely responsive to the Jenner/Kardasian minutiae, it probably wouldn’t exist in our living rooms and our computer screens.

With several generations raised on a bloated diet of sensationalism, phony celebrity, vacuous reporting by an ever-fawning media and return-on-investment thinking determining the lowest denominator for increasing media sales, we should not be surprised at the Jenner/Kardasian overkill. We’ve told them - through circulation numbers and ratings - what we want to see, what fascinates us and what will cause us to turn on the TV. We’ve done it to ourselves.

But those numbers didn’t come from this household. Nor - I would hope - from yours. The “bread and circuses” mentality of TV networks and national newspapers is dangerous to our health. The Jenner-Kardasian show does not belong in our diets. Like cholesterol, that crap blocks a lot of information we really need to stay healthy.