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« Criticism for Conservatives and Liberals | Main | Relevancy Doctrine Diversions »

Our Politicized Media

One of my biggest beefs with the entire political process in our era has less to do with the candidates and their policies, campaign strategies or even the tenor of debate than with the unforgivable and blatant bias of the media. With no attempt anymore to conceal their partisanship, they speak about their favorite candidates with beaming smiles, gushy phrases and obviously pulled punches. Before their guy even has a chance to respond to an attack, they initiate counterattacks and circle the wagons so as to blunt any negative effects.

By the same token, the political candidates whom they despise get hostile commentary, slipshod reporting and often a distortion of facts. It has become laughably clear where their sentiments lie as conveyed by the demeanor with which they cover a story. The mass media in this country, hiding behind the freedom of press (which, by the way, they would love to deny to other media outlets who do not share their views) long ago abandoned their objectivity. The press has an agenda, and their philosophical strategy in executing their jobs plays off of this agenda through any and every element of media, whether by straight-up news stories, editorials, commentary, video footage or still photos. You can be sure that the average reader or viewer gets exactly what the czars of media power centers intend for them to get.

One would think that the major media would obfuscate their maneuverings so that most people would not suspect that they are being manipulated. In many instances they do, but they attempt any serious smoke and mirror acts less and less. They don’t think they need to because they believe most people agree with them anyway. It is, however, an arrogant denial of the political positions of most of the country. The country’s opinions do not matter to them if they have their own well-grounded view. If polls show that the majority is with them on an issue, they quote the poll. If the polls show that the majority is against them, they ignore the numbers and ramp up the propaganda to advance their view anyway. Double standards, rabid partisanship and public debacles don’t bother them if the media become the beneficiaries of such political defects.

John Hinderaker of PowerLineBlog discusses this modus operandi in the media in a recent posting. He wrote in response to an editorial defending the New York Times for printing of graphic and gory photos of the carnage of war. The real question is not the propriety of printing the pictures. They, as we know, simply tell the story of the tragedy of war. Rather, the issue is why did the Times publish these pictures but not similar or even worse shots of gore and mayhem occurring elsewhere in the country? If the intent is to present the facts as they are, why are those facts always set up so as to lead readers to a political conclusion? Are the photos simply a photojournalist’s view of the war or are they calculated to advance an agenda held by the corporate media? John writes:

“The Times photographer quoted by Hoyt says that graphic battle photos should be published “to see that a truthful account of the consequences of war is given.” I am somewhat sympathetic to this view. But isn’t that principle being very narrowly applied here? The fact is that newspapers and magazines hardly ever publish graphic images of violence in any context.

“If journalists believe it their role to “see that a truthful account of the consequences” of a given policy or phenomenon is given, why don’t we ever see photographs of the bloody and battered bodies of crime victims? Most horrific crimes are committed by people who already had long records of violent crime, and either have not been jailed, have been given short sentences, or are out on parole. Many Americans think that our criminal justice system is too lax in punishing violent criminals. Wouldn’t showing graphic pictures of their victims, painful though that might be to their families, represent a “truthful account of the consequences” of our policies on criminal justice?

“Here’s another one: a large number of crimes are committed by illegal aliens. Illegal aliens are also responsible for a remarkable number of motor vehicle accidents. Here in Minnesota, an illegal immigrant was just convicted of criminal vehicular homicide after she crashed into the side of a school bus, killing four children and injuring 17. No newspaper published photos of the dead or injured children. Why not? Wouldn’t such photos contribute to a “truthful account of the consequences” of our lax immigration policies?

“One more: since shortly after September 11, 2001, the television networks have refused to show footage of the terrorist attacks or the collapse of the twin towers. They have done this on the ground that the footage would be too upsetting to Americans; therefore they are sparing our sensibilities. What they really mean, I think, is that if Americans could see that footage their anger against the Islamic terrorists would be rekindled and they may be more likely to support aggressive actions to defeat them. They might conclude, for example, that two or three minutes of waterboarding is a small price to pay to avoid such attacks in the future.

“So, if we’re going to have a debate about when it is necessary to show graphic images of violence so that Americans can be better informed about the consequences of government policies, by all means let’s go at it. But let’s not pretend that the only time the issue arises is when a newspaper wants to publish photos of dead and dying soldiers for the purpose of turning public opinion against a military conflict.”

Today’s media power represents a fourth branch of government, albeit an informal one. Without an official role in governing this nation, they insert themselves into formation of public policy, selection of candidates and appointees, executive decisions, foreign affairs and domestic welfare. They can foment war, instigate riots, assassinate characters, shape public opinion, interfere with the administrative process, facilitate their agenda and virtually control the direction and destiny of the country. That’s a lot of power. That’s a lot of unelected power. We don’t get a chance to elect the people who work the ropes behind our politics.

The huge conundrum is, of course, how can we reign in the mainstream media without denying them the freedoms guaranteed by the bill of rights? The simple answer is: we can’t. Two options remain: the media can return to its former professional objectivity and report the news that happens, or, alternative sources of news can rise up to expose the present media agenda. I don’t see the first option happening. The news outlets have become far too politicized to change. Moreover, they are fully cognizant of the power they wield and they will never let it be wrested from them without a fight on the scale of WWIII. (And remember, they control their own destiny through the use of their power. The playing field in such a war would never be level.)

The second option, alternative sources of news, is happening today. This column and tens of thousands of others represent the move in that direction. It is an uphill battle, a costly battle in which the media moguls hold the major financial resources, and it is a messy battle because many players in the alternative media sympathize with the mainstream media.

In the meantime, read or view ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, CNBC, FOX, AP, Reuters and all the other news outlets with skepticism. Don’t make up your mind until you sample the alternative sources out there. In extremely critical matters, investigate fully the options available. Ultimately, each individual consumer is responsible for what he or she believes. If someone lies to you repeatedly, and you continue to believe them, then you are to be blamed for your own opinions. If, however, you catch them in their lie and you turn to some other trusted source, you are to be commended. In the end, truth is all that matters. Jesus said, “You shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free.”

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