24 September 2009

Kill the Messenger

Apparently, after all of the reporting on the town hall meetings, the tea party rallies, and anger over Obama’s policies, we in the media still don’t get it.
“Operation: Can You Hear Us Now?” plans to put the media “on trial” Oct. 17. The event (using information found at operationcanyouhearusnow.com) charges that the “defendants (MSM outlets) have been charged with the following misconduct: journalistic malpractice, Yellow Journalism, extreme bias, unfair and unbalanced reporting, reporting that reflects a political agenda, complicity, cover-up and deceit, partnering with Big Government, reporting of self-commissioned polls as “News,” willful misrepresentation of facts, and loss of all objectivity.”
Where do I even start?
First, I find the entire premise of this event to be just the slightest bit political in nature by itself, much like what the “Mainstream Media” is being accused of. Let me see if I get this straight: for eight years of a Republican administration, the media was doing OK? At least to the point where it was the target of a campaign like this? Or does this have more to do that the people who are behind this being more uncomfortable with the state of the world (and the media that reports it) now that Obama and his agenda have taken hold in the White House? As Rush Limbaugh said in September, “The media [are] no longer reporters. They are repeaters.” How is this any different than what happened during the Bush or even the Reagan years? How is this any different than the hook, line and sinker cheerleading that the media fell all over themselves to promote during the run up to the Iraq War? Answer: content.
“Extreme Bias?” This charge comes from an event being reported on by the World Net Daily, one of the most extreme right-wing news sources (Example: today’s headline is “Author confirms Bill Ayers helped Obama write “Dreams.’” This organization is touted as a news source – and the organizers have the nerve to talk about BIAS??
“Partnering with Big Government?” I share the opinion that Obama is a media whore. But as for the charge of complicity (which isn’t outlined any further than the mere statement) there is a difference between reporting on something and actually endorsing it. For example, when the news reports cover a plane crash, they don’t endorse it. They simply call it as they see it. It’s not much different (except for scale and lack of jet fuel) for something like Obama’s bailout plan or the economic downturn. There is a difference in being an observer and being a cheerleader – and the fact that the “The plan” page describes Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh, notoriously biased in themselves, both as “American Heros” really undermines the whole “no one should be biased” idea (p.s. – not to nitpick, but whoever wrote this misspelled “heroes”). In this case, it’s simply a matter of wanting another “truth” over what’s actually being presented during the evening news.
“Obviously, the "main stream" media are hard of hearing and seeing. About 2 million mad-as-hell taxpayers assembling in Washington, D.C. for the largest-ever (most well-behaved ever, most respectful ever) protest did not make it onto their radar screens (or our TV screens).” Actually, this is wrong – it WAS covered by the “main stream” media, although obviously not as much as the people behind this event wanted it to be. Also, as far as they “most well behaved, most respectful ever,” are there any police incident reports to back those statements up? Can they be verified? In response to being “ignored,” event organizers want “freedom-loving, American-loving, free-speech loving friends” to go and demonstrate their right to free speech in front of local news outlets (in the Twin Cities, they picked KARE 11). What’s ironic about this concept is that they are basically protesting because they disagree with the content. So let me get this straight – one person’s free speech isn’t as valuable as another? Is that what I’m supposed to take from this?
The idea that media is some liberal bastion of Communist sympathizers is an old one, but I am tired of it. In fact, due to an ever-shrinking amount of organizations and corporations who own media outlets, the ability to ruffle feathers is probably not what it was even 20 years ago. I would imagine media outlets are probably more conservative now than ever before (in terms of oversight and final say), despite what its critics say. I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s easy to tar-and-feather the media – but how would it sound if the same people who called Limbaugh and Back “heros” were in charge? Would it be any better? No, it would probably be worse – not because of any lack of ability, but because of the obvious fact that there would still be a bias, albeit one that the “American patriots” planning to protest Oct. 17 are more comfortable with.
One person on the site commented: “I love the idea of taking the battle to them! If, after this, they still ignore our movement, then it will be obvious to the world that they have taken themselves to “fringe” media status. Pravda. We’ll take the ball and run with it from here.” Ignored? How many reports do I have to watch on TV about people prattling on about Obama’s “socialist agenda?” How many more times do I have to hear reports about Obama’s face being decorated with Hitler mustaches at protests? Or see elected officials get shouted down in heated health care town hall meetings? In short, we get it. You are angry. You are upset. But you are most definitely not ignored, despite how persecuted you feel to the contrary.
In the end, this is less about media bias and more about the fact that the people behind this and affiliated with it are fed up (which I can understand, by the way) with the state of affairs as they see it. But to cloak this in the language of some sort of persecuted and ignored sect of society is disingenuous at best, and the fact that they crave the media’s recognition makes me wonder how serious this “trial” is supposed to be.

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