More than I can recall at any point in my lifetime, we hear how U.S. media outlets are no longer trustworthy; how everything they report is “fake news” and; “they are nothing but bias rags for corporations”.
And; as if they are themselves the “sole harbingers of truth, justice and humanity”, there’s not one politician anywhere on this planet who hasn’t blamed the media for the errors/missteps that lead to their failures and/or demise.
Indeed, in the United States, the media seem to have become more despised, unethical, and despicable than even the politicians they report on; something I find incredulous.
This especially true since the invention of television. I’ll explain the reason for this in a moment, but first I want to make sure you understand, that blaming the media is an exercise in finger-pointing in which I’m not even remotely willing to participate. And I fervently hope, that if you are one who does, despite your favored rag and your suspicion that all other rags are printed by the Devil himself, you stop such foolish and supremely dangerous behavior immediately.
While I’m certain there is an abundance of misinformation in the media, that does not mean, or even imply, that the media are completely corrupt and useless. In fact; nothing could be farther from the truth, and no single comment could be more damaging to freedom itself, if taken as absolutely as people appear to be doing with Mr. Trump at the helm of His Majesty’s Ship, “Destroy The Free Press”.
Despite that common misconception, there remains to be an absolutely vital need for media in our daily lives; media who give us our daily bread. I’m referring to media who go far beyond simply informing us of the accident at the corner of Main and Main, or advising us that the weather is going to be cold and snowy, despite the fact that it’s the middle of August in downtown Miami.
Media; one of the very reasons the first amendment exists, cannot be painted with that “bigly” and broad hegemonic paint brush Mr. Trump so loves to do, with his alternative facts, in his alternative universe.
We, as U.S. citizens, have grown far too fond of dismissing media as the enemy, when they provide information we dislike and with whom we disagree as we praise our preferred outlet(s) as if they’re the very tools with which the the words of the gods themselves are written, all the while, not even considering the implications of this behavior.
But; here’s a fact, a REAL, indisputable, historically observed and proven fact; the reality is that they’ve ALWAYS been filled with bias and erroneous information.
According to this source; “The Hoover Institution”, it has been bias since the early 19th Century (for those of you with the brains of Trump, that’s the 1800’s).
“The roots of media bias go back to the nineteenth century, and complaints about bias in part reflect a questionable idea about the media’s role and purpose: that newspapers and other dispensers of public information exist to transmit objective, factual information gleaned and communicated by credentialed professionals.
In fact, the notion that reporters should possess Olympian objectivity is relatively recent. In the nineteenth century, most newspapers were explicitly linked to a particular political party and the economic interests of the publisher. In California during the Gold Rush, for example, the San Francisco Alta California was the enemy of Democratic governor John Bigler, whose press champion was the Stockton Republican. Most of the coverage of crime during this period––particularly the spree of the Mexican bandit Joaquín Murieta and the state-funded posse that tracked him down and killed him––reflected those political interests and loyalties rather than mere facts. Moreover, the stories were written in a florid, dramatic style more suitable for a dime novel than a presumably more sober newspaper. Of course protestations of objectivity and accuracy were made, but these were understood to be mere rhetorical camouflage for the editorial opinions sown throughout most news stories.
The tradition of lurid sensationalism, scandal-mongering, and exaggeration put in service to profits and a political agenda continued in the “yellow journalism” famously on display in the circulation war between the Hearst and Pulitzer newspapers in the late nineteenth century. More significantly, that was also when the progressive movement promoted the notion that the proper function of the media was to instruct and shape the opinions of voters too uninformed and irrational to be trusted with making the right choice based on facts alone.”
What??? You gasp.
Yes! I’m not promulgating alternative facts here. Even the “Center for Journalism Ethics” agrees;
“You don’t need to have a degree in history — or even to have paid much attention when you suffered the US history survey course as an undergraduate — to know that American newspapers were very partisan in the 19th century. “Editors,” wrote one historian, “unabashedly shaped the news and their editorial comment to partisan purposes. They sought to convert the doubters, recover the wavering, and hold the committed. ‘The power of the press,’ one journalist candidly explained, ‘consists not in its logic or eloquence, but in its ability to manufacture facts, or to give coloring to facts that have occurred.”
Bias and the media have been uneasy partners since long before journalism planted its roots in 15th Century Europe and American Colonies.
Harboring a bias either in favor of the King, or in favor of the Continentals, printed journalism has ALWAYS formed opinion, politics and nations. Indeed, within the same continental townships, there were opposing views in the printed press; those supporting the King and those protesting the same, all printed up nice and neat for us to decide, right in the midst of the American Revolution.
In fact; Journalism has been the very means with which to propagate the words and direction of the wealthy rulers for a minimum of five hundred years, after Johannes Gutenberg created the first printing press; a new tool shining the first light on the Dark Ages. And, just as it is today, it was also used as an instrument of protest. Media aided and planted almost every revolution man has ever been involved in.
Some, such as myself, will even argue that the Bible is itself bias media, for it was absolutely used to spread Christianity, and people eat it up, despite the utterly outlandish stories contained within and the vast existence of other religious belief systems that had been around for many millennia prior.
In the hope that I can rely upon your education to recall the events that lead us from those Dark Ages to the present, let’s return to the 21st Century, amidst an endless paradox; the forever raging and ancient battle of “whose rag is telling the truth and whose is lying beyond belief.”
The cold, stark reality of “free press” is that no human being is even capable of being bias-free. It is literally impossible to make that claim and to insist it upon others simply shows one’s ignorance and sheer stupidity. Especially considering the fact that those who do so are simply insisting that the rag they despise, reflect their own perspective, rather than give them "false information".
This is due to one reason and one only - hegemony; the condition that’s engrained into each and every one of us; past, present and future, as a result of the socio-economic conditions into which we were born and raised.
So; how do we find the “real truth”?
While reporting as objectively as possible IS their job, it IS NOT the job of the press to give you the truth.
I’ll repeat that; IT IS NOT the job of the press to give you the truth!
It is, no more their job to provide you with the truth than it is the prosecutions and/or defense’s jobs in a trial to provide the truth to a jury. Rather; their job is to present fact and anyone who’s ever served on a jury knows; fact is not crystal clear, but muddy as hell.
Likewise; it is the job, of the press to provide, to the best of their ability as hegemonic human beings, to report the facts as they are. It is then YOUR job to make the determination of what those facts represent; be it true or false, or in the vernacular of Mr. Trump “fake or real”.
And in that responsibility, you cannot shirk. It is yours permanently and you cannot take that monkey off your shoulders and put it on those of the press, the politicians, your neighbors, your children, the cops, or the preacher; it is YOUR JOB ONLY.
If we assign this task to anyone other than ourselves, the risk of censorship is massive.
Absolutely and without exception; the most important function of a free press is that it reports to us; you and me, the behavior, events, issues related to and the direction our government is taking us. In every sense of the phrase; they are our eyes and ears, sending us the information that’s vital for a functional republic such as ours.
You but need think of how despotic governments around the globe currently operate - “state owned media”, with which the State promulgates propaganda, eliminates opposition, hides the facts, and even expands its own powers, all while we’re blissfully unaware. So, next time you feel like joining in on the choir’s song, you must make damned sure you know what the choir is singing, or you could be singing your own death song; along with that of 300 million + U.S. citizens without even realizing it.
Remember! Without a free media to report the facts, we have a horrifying scenario in which our government can and DOES operate in secrecy. It has happened right her in the U.S. in the South, prior to the Civil War and later in many bar backrooms of the old “boss politics”.
A secret government is not, in any manner, a government of free people.
This cannot be stressed enough: If we follow the current Administration’s insidious direction, in undermining, castigating, and discounting the media, we are, each and every last one of us, in deep peril.
To make it easier to shirk our responsibilities, we now we have a new player in the search for the truth, one that’s far more insidious and covert than any written media could possibly be - televised media. More hindrance than help, televised media only adds to our human tendency to kick back and let others do our jobs.
We watch Fox News and accept for truth, the extraordinarily heavily biased representation of fact, leaning in their preferred direction and call it a day on our efforts to seek the truth. Or; we watch MSNBC and accept extraordinarily heavily biased representation of fact, leaning in the other direction and call it a day on our efforts to seek the truth.
With a few exceptions, factual televised media is almost non-existent. The very dynamics of the interactions between the human mind and television supports far more influence-peddling than does the printed media.
Television is absolute in its ability to cement the opinions of the watchers.
Now, here’s why you CANNOT trust television news.
There’s a reason televised media is completely consumed with, even overpowered by commercials, and a reason the relativity of commentary and news has changed dramatically since the invention of television.
That simple reason is; television literally rewires your brain and both the televised media and their commercial sponsors want to be there when it does.
So put aside that remote, turn on your PC, and start reading, reading, reading and reading. Spend as much or more time reading the news than watching it and I promise you; at the very least, you will be a better reader, and at the very most, you’ll be very well informed in local, national and global events, culture and simple awareness. And; be it Fox News or MSNBC, RT, or AlJazeera, don’t just read your preferred source. The ONLY way you’re going to find truth is through assimilation of a variety of perspectives.
The absolute worst thing you can do to yourself, is to limit your information solely to the comfort level you find most appealing and you will not only do yourself an injustice, but every other human and animal on Planet Earth.