Monday, March 02, 2009

The American Media Misdiagnosis

By Robert Parry
March 2, 2009

It’s widely agreed that there are a number of factors dragging down American newspapers, including the economic recession and the impact of the Internet, but a reason rarely mentioned is that the national news media failed in its most important job – to serve as a watchdog for the people.

Read on.

7 comments:

priscianus jr said...

I have been saying this for years. It seems so obvious. The newspapers forgot that their first responsibility is to their readers.
The cognitive dissonance or "denial" on this point is astounding, even after a number of spectacular scandals and revelations of conflict of interest, holding back vital stories, printing false or distorted information with no vetting, etc., etc. It's the proverbial elephant in the room.

Anonymous said...

All this is not free - the think tanks, the PR firms, etc all have cost. Follow the money and you will see that energy, tobacco, finance/banking all make significant contributions to the conservative causes. Money is also laundered from corporations and industry groups through front organizations, including the evangelicals.

Agree that the press has shot itself, but the gun and ammo were adequately supplied by the right wing through the economics of advertising, coercion, and stupidity.

Anonymous said...

I couldn't agree more. However, add to this that the average consumer of the modern media is not content to swallow that which we are fed as being the truth. We now do our own searches for truth. That mistrust comes directly from discovering that what we once took as being reliable reporting, no longer is. The death of the printed medium is actually more like suicide.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the article. I do not disagree with anything you said, not even the use of "Anonymous" as a tag line. I had to start using the same signature because of harassment from strange places, but I won't go into that, except to say that Buzzflash is not innocent in the matter, along with others. One of the questions that has dogged the minds of historians, political scientists, sociologists and mental health professionals over the years of the rise of radical conservatism, with the help of the Christian Fundamentalism Right, is: Who is really to blame for widespread public acceptance of Republican myths? I must have read more than two dozen books on the subject (and five times as many articles) in the last few years. I included among these myths the top twelve roadblocks to rational thinking and problem solving - - 1) Capitalism can only work within a deregulated environment, (2) patriotism never questions government actions or policies, (3) America fights terrorism most successfully through military means and spying on its citizens, (4) liberalism is the country's worst enemy and has never done anything positive for people, (5)government is the enemy of the people and a danger to its freedoms, (6) minority rights are not Constitutional and often are not in keeping with common morality and social norms, (7) America was founded as a Christian nation, (8) welfare is not democratic or Christian; people should fen for themselves, (9) abortion is murder because "life" begins at conception, 10) GLBT citizens are immoral, second-class people, who are out to harm American families, (11) progressive politics are a form of socialism and (12) government and its citizens are harming Christians and their families. When you consider all the arguments why these ideas were widely accepted, you have to go back to the Founding Father's main concern about the survival of the government they designed. If I may paraphrase their worries, and put them into one perspective, I have to blame an "uneducated, uninformed and apathetic electorate" who only seems to take notices of its civic responsibilities when middle-class economic security is threatened, as it is now. Only then, do the voters seem to care about what is going on in Washington, state houses and city and county governments. The Republicans, since the days of Reagan, have legitimized "public apathy" through the religious right's twisted brand of Christianity, as well as fostered it by taking over the media, with talk radio as its national propaganda echo chamber. With the arrival of the first Bush, the new game in town was to circumvent voters altogether through systematic and massive purging of voter rolls, and election count fraud. However, none of this would have happened had the public sought out information they could trust, as millions of others did through the Internet. Instead, they sat in from of their TV, and in front of their preachers, and swallowed whole the myths being spun by them to protect the nation's elites, who bought presidents and U.S. Congressmen and women with impunity, They got the same Congress to give them any economic advantage and handout they wanted, but in the end they bankrupted their companies and left the country broke. At they same time they were the trumpet section of the orchestra playing the theme that welfare, Medicare and Social Security were threats to free enterprise and would eventually leave the country without funds to operate. Today, Americans are so angry that they were made fools of that they are leaving churches in droves and calling for no more bailouts, even if the country has to eat bread and water for three meals a day. If the reader thinks I am being too harsh on the average American, then let him remember that while the radical conservative myth machine was generating public opinion in its favor, the rest of the world stood up and screamed warnings for more than thirty years, and the warnings were printed deep and wide in the foreign press for all to read. So we have come to this very hour when the world in unison shouts, "A pox on both your houses." - - Republicans and the voters - -who kept them in office while their rich buddies told America blind and caused a worldwide depression that has backed us into the greatest national security corner since World War II, with all its inherent dangers.

Anonymous said...

Clinton was impeached over a hummer because he let the right wing media grow. He should have brought back a broader Fairness Doctrine by presidential fiat just as Reagan undid it. The in his first 2 years in office he had a Dem majority in House & Senate, so it could have been codified as well. But the DNC blew any chance to level the playing field. And so, Gore was cheated out of the presidency too.

The right fears fairness, which is why that started raising this issue before Obama was even elected.

And now that he's in office, with a Dem majority, Obama is hellbent in repeating the same mistakes again. Spineless, visionless idiot.

B/R said...

You're right. The watchdog function gave way to inbreeding while the radical right went unchecked and poorly examined until its influence and appeal to many lower common denominators became apparent. Now everyone is in free-fall and the big press, just like the big corporations, face a grim reality, especially those not so BIG as to get bailed out. Anonymous' list of 12 principles is frightening, but seems too often readily swallowed.

Anonymous said...

Absolutely agree with the main thesis of the article, but the anecdotes are a trifle one-sided. From my perspective - as a libertarian with a healthy distrust of both the right and the left - the mainstream media shed their proper role as impartial reporters and became involved and passionate - on both sides of the political spectrum. When they started rooting for their team instead of finding and reporting the facts, the game was over.