I’ve noticed some serious anger at the mainstream media coming from multiple sources lately. It reminds me of 2003, during the build up to the Iraq war. I, like many people, were thinking, “The mainstream media is going to do their job, right? They will ask the tough questions, sort out the BS from the truth, hold power accountable, you know, the stuff from the movies.” But they didn’t.
Some of us started blogging during that time as an alternative to screaming at the TV. The MSM didn’t want me helping them be better, so I chose to defund the right-wing media, who were making the world worse. (They still are, but are getting a lot less money for it.)
After the disaster of the Matt Lauer interviews, I got the same sick feeling about the MSM as I had in 2003. “Wait, what? Are you KIDDING ME?” I suppose in the spring and summer people could forgive the MSM for going with the most entertaining candidate. I mean, would you want to cover the unctuous Ted Cruz for 9 months? I couldn’t take enough showers every day.
But this isn’t Dancing with the Stars, the winner of this contest gets the power of life and death over millions.
I think the mainstream media are still assuming that “cooler heads will prevail” and/or Trump will self immolate so they won’t have to call him on his BS. They also expect the Hillary people to do the heavy lifting for them, so they can continue to look “objective.” Maybe that will work, but as the old saying goes,”It’s all fun and games until a maniac gets the nuclear codes.”
Cliff Schecter and Sam Seder’s talked about this last Friday on the Majority Report. Cliff was angry at the mainstream media in general and furious at NBC for the Matt Lauer debacle specifically. You can hear the frustration in Cliff’s voice when he says he doesn’t know how to solve this problem.
In this clip Sam points out some of the pressures on the media that most people didn’t know about that led mainstream journalists to their defensive crouch in the first place. They also discuss what has changed with the rise of blogs and social media.
An increase of voices from the left has helped, but the bad news is that journalists are still being punished, not rewarded, for doing the job we expect them to do. Especially when it comes to coverage of right-wing politicians. But this isn’t anything new.
Eric Boehlert wrote a book, Lapdogs, How the Press Rolled Over for Bush, about how the Bush/Cheney White House treated the press like dirt and how well it worked for them.
I remember the story of how Dick Cheney kicked an ABC reporter off the Vice President’s plane. Her bosses and others in the media didn’t stand up for her. Sounds just like how Trump treats the media who challenged him. And the Breitbart editor who didn’t stand up for his own reporter? He’s Trump’s campaign CEO now.
Why so serious Spocko? Trump is funny!
If you want some humor with your media criticism and miss Jon Stewart’s smart, funny take on the Matt Lauer interview, listen to Jimmy Dore’s political comedy podcast. “Matt Lauer failed at journalism during the town hall with Trump & Clinton, we break it down.”
I’m happy that there are so many people who are pounding on the mainstream media to be better. But they aren’t going to get better on their own. The need to be pushed to do their job, especially when they are punished for it.
Joel Silberman wrote a piece, The Media Should Be Put on Trial for Its 2016 Election Coverage. that has some good suggestions on what to do.
So, what can we do? Demand better media. Write to the station managers of corporate TV stations/cable operators and tell them you are not satisfied. Tweet about it. Call out CNN, MSNBC, NBC, CBS, ABC, FOX in all forms of social media. It’s time to demand that media live up to the vision of the founders of our democracy.
If that seems too old school, how about using technology better and faster to do the job the MSM journalists won’t. Jordan Hoffner, Salon Media’s CEO, had an interesting proposal, fact-check the candidates’ statements in real time. What a great idea! We can act as if Google exists and people have memories! Woo hoo!
In the past if networks didn’t treat Trump special, he would cut them off. But imagine the ratings bonanza for the first real journalist to demand the truth, and hold his feet to the fire. What if instead of arresting Amy Goodman for doing journalism, she is rewarded for it? Imagine her Trump/Clinton interviews and debates. I’d also love to see Sam Seder call Trump out on during an interview.
But frankly, having to beat up the main stream media again to try to get them to do their job makes me weary. If you feel the same way there is another option. Support blogs like this and other progressive voices.
We are asking the tough questions and pointing out the BS, shouldn’t that be rewarded?