Monday, May 18, 2009

The Decline of American Journalism

Good Morning Bloggers! Well it was another weekend of American Sunday talk shows giving angry Republicans a place to distract and attack. This time it was the Pelosi distraction. What's next?

As usual, the follow-up questions were slim to none. It's clear the weekend talk shows have been compromised by the same disease that infests the cable news shows, and it's not pretty.

William Randolph Hearst would be thrilled to know that his legacy of yellow journalism for corporate profit and power is alive and well. Finding the truth on the Sunday talk shows, which used to matter, seems to be less important these days. They're all stuck on the same Washington spin cycle, and what's good for America and it's people is way down their agenda.

I guess we all should be wise to the media's game of hosting false interviews for the sole purpose of generating high ratings, but it still irritates many of us who remain hopeful for things to improve under Obama. I guess the dumbing-down of American journalism - and America - is in full swing, whatever president or party is in power.

Let's face it, we live in a "corporatocracy," and the CEOs are in charge.

It's bad enough large chunks of America watch propaganda spewed by beauty queens and ex-fashion models on FOX "News," but I had hoped the trend would steer clear of intelligent journalism. Unfortunately, Meet the Press, This Week and Face the Nation all seem to be headed down that path as well. I guess we shouldn't be surprised when Miss California soon co-hosts Meet the Press. I guess it's only a matter of time.

You know it's bad when I regret that Meet the Press didn't go to Chris Matthews. He's not perfect - swings to and fro with the prevailing political winds too much, but at least he'll challenge a guest with facts every now and then. David Gregory has become a tool of the Washington elite - he's lost credibility with me these days. I never thought I would miss the days of Tim Russert and his pull quotes.

He was no Edward R. Morrow, but at least news-makers would squirm when he used their own quotes to contradict their latest spin. Gregory doesn't do the homework. He's too easy on them.

Yes, it's clear that American journalism has been broken by its corporate overlords. Now it all seems to be bought-and-paid-for by the Washington elite and it's attack dogs, the DC PR industry. Once great news organizations have been reduced to pseudo-news entertainment designed to illicit fast one-liners, stir political gossip and discover meaningless political intrigue. High ratings stem from colorful news, not informative news.

It all seems designed to get us to tune in without actually informing us of anything important. It's almost as if we're witnessing another free market bubble, but this time it's a corporate news bubble, where we're kept fat and happy on large helpings of distraction and spin. It's obviously all designed to manipulate us into a false sense of control. Unfortunately, it's an illusion. They have all the control.

If it wasn't for a few die-hard print news organizations that bloggers like us rely on, the American people would be left to fend for themselves. We owe them our thanks. I may sound naive, but I do believe they sacrifice some of their potential profit to help us. I do want to believe that so much.

Most of this is the fault of Newt Gingrich and the Republican Congress of the nineties. The GOP wanted corporations to own larger chunks of America's media -Rupert Murdoch and FOX "News" donated most of the support. It was a battle with the Democrats, but in the end President Bill Clinton was too distracted and accepted the deregulation of American media. It was a huge mistake that has led us to this depressing point in our history.

It's bad enough that ratings are now controlling journalism, but it's even worse when you think about how special interests - like industrial-military, health care and pharmaceuticals - control it too. We've all seen Lockheed Martin, Boeing and big pharm commercials while watching the news. Doesn't it make you wonder just what kind of impact they're having on those corporate news rooms? It should, because they are having an impact.

Unfortunately, we probably don't even know the worst of it. Let us hope and pray that it's not too horrible, or too late.

The PR journalism of distract and attack needs to end. The American people need to demand serious media reform now. I realize that it's not high on the agenda, but the President and Congress need to make it so - and long before the next big elections. Serious journalists and congressional investigators cannot do it all alone. They need our help now. As I always say, please take the time to contact your representatives. Let them know that America needs serious media reform. The truth is out there, and we need to find it.

Monday's Political Rant - Michael

PS - There's a healthy reaction/debate over at Papamoka Straight Talk - in case you're interested.


Infidel753 said...

It's no wonder that viewership for TV news, and readership of newspapers, is declining steadily.

The internet provides an alternative.

The greatest benefit of the internet is not that it favors or disfavors this or that point of view, but that it has decentralized control over the flow of information. No longer can a small group of people decide what is and is not news, and which issues ought to be talked about. We can work around the consensus.

by Michael Boh said...

I totally agree Infidel, except I would like corporate news to work for the American people too. There is a way - re-regulate so that corporate media is less powerful, more local, more responsible, and answerable to the people. Screw the GOP and their deregulation propaganda. The people won't listen to their lies anymore. I obviously love the Internet, but I want both. We need a free Internet to work hand-in-hand with a free and unfettered corporate press.

It's also important to off-set that large chunk of lazy-ass Americans who will never bother to read/watch the Internet. There will always be people who will want to be TOLD a point of view by TV/corporate talking heads. I think they're the tards who elected Bush - many are independents too. We need reform to make sure they don't harm us again.