Sunday, April 19, 2009

How America Lost its Free Press

It's hard to miss just how much the media environment around us has changed in a fairly short time. Bias is nothing new as far as the media is concerned. Most of the major media outlets are run and staffed by people whose own views run left of center.

That simple fact alone does not ensure bias, anymore than a bus counter staffed entirely by one race automatically means that other races will be discriminated against. As human beings we all have prejudices of one kind or another, acting on them in a workplace environment however is a matter of choice. And the current media environment is the product of a choice by editors, producers, anchors, reporters to not only bring that bias into the workplace, but to enshrine it as a heroic virtue that embodies all that is best about the profession.

The barriers to bias in journalism depended on old school codes, such as sticking to the facts and not inserting your own viewpoint into the story. Those codes are virtually gone today in major media outlets, as even news stories on the front pages of major newspapers such as the New York Times can be indistinguishable from its editorials. The facts have ceased to matter, instead an upscale suit and tie version of tabloid sensationalism heavily colored by liberal bias and projected through the prism of first person egotism has become the typical mode of reporting.

When the cinematic versions of Woodward and Bernstein became the image of the reporter, the beginning of the end was already here. The ideal now became the young college educated progressive reporter bringing down the reactionary power structure. It still is the ideal today.

But where for the past few decades the media was simply biased, that is stories distorted or colored certain key issues and personalities, we have gone well beyond bias into outright propaganda.

The difference between bias and propaganda is the same as the difference between a Dan Rather anchored newscast and one broadcast out of Saddam's Iraq, or Putin's Russia or Kim Jong Il's North Korea.

Bias colors the reporting of an existing story, propaganda is concerned solely with talking up the talking points of the regime. Propaganda newscasts do not "report" anything, they exist only to indoctrinate. They come in two flavors, fluff pieces on the government and the people, and harsh criticisms of the enemies of the people. Accordingly propaganda newscasts and newspapers make for very boring viewing and reading. You can only read so many times that everything is fine, that the government is doing great and that the Beloved Leader loves small children and puppies before you go out and look for something more interesting. Even if you do support the government and the Beloved Leader.

No wonder FOX News is beating CNN, MSNBC and co in the ratings. Agree or disagree, FOX News gives you an interesting story. The only story CNN and MSNBC have to offer you involves pictures of the Obama's new dog. Propaganda media only works when government authority silences any independent papers and stations. Without that iron glove of the nanny state in action, people quickly turn the channel.

It's the same reason conservative talk radio is seeing booming ratings, while the producer of Air America is looking for ways to stay out of jail over embezzling money from the Boys and Girls Club to keep his ratings deprived operation going. The White House may have declared war on Rush Limbaugh, but the only way Obama can beat him in the ratings is by preempting prime time programming on every channel.

Everywhere you look major chain newspapers are folding, their readerships evaporating, not because the public has turned into illiterate digital savages (as many overwrought columnists would like you to believe) but because major newspapers long ago stopped investigating and reporting the news, instead they kept churning out the same human interest stories spiked with lifestyle coverage creep. Newspapers could not compete with radio or cable news in reporting breaking stories, but in turn they gave up on serious investigative reporting and became generic.

The constant omnipresent coverage of every single one of Obama's "historic" sneezes, with optional photo calendar, postcard and commemorative coin sets for only 9.95, has done nothing to save newspapers. No more than every magazine sticking the Obamas on the cover has done anything to arrest their inevitable fate. Propaganda doesn't sell, at least not widely enough to matter. There are only so many people who will buy their 20th magazine with Obama on the cover months after the election. Most people will just glance over the same stories on the internet and move on.

But it is not just the media conglomerates who are suffering a terrible loss, but it is Americans in general who have been betrayed, shortchanged and deprived of a Constitutional right, a free press.

The media syndicates turned newspapers, radio stations and TV stations into sausage. They ground each one out the same, standardized the viewpoints, with the occasional flavoring of a dissenting viewpoint. And then in 2008 they slipped the bounds of bias, and got in line to kiss the posterior of Barack. And with that the American free press ended and what had been bias became shameless sycophanty for the regime and frenzied attacks on the political opposition. With the political opposition seemingly demolished and the crown resting on King Hussein's unlined and hollow brow, the propaganda became tedious.

Thousands of professionally trained journalists feverishly pretending that Obama's international trip is a great success, or that his wife knows a dress from a curtain, or that his economic policies aren't a shambles-- is a sad and pathetic sight. A sight quite familiar to any former citizen of Russia, Germany, Venezuela or Persia who has seen their country transition to a tyranny.

By abandoning any pretense at journalistic objectivity and defending their liberal bias as good journalism, the media itself destroyed not only their own credibility, but the very notion of a free press. The internet is simply completing the job of transforming the media environment into a partisan mud throwing competition dominated by eyeballs, rather than by corporate ownership. And while most will not mourn what we have lost, a free press is an essential element in a free republic. The middle ground of truth has fallen away and with that fall, the intellectual environment, the ability to maintain a dialogue on common terms and any objective truths have fallen away with it as well.


Keli Ata said...

Excellent article, Sultan, really:) It would be great to see it published in the American Journalism Review or Columbia Journalism Review.

It's a crying shame what the American press has done to itself. It's one thing to be subjected to assaults on press freedoms. Quite another to willingly surrender them to a weak piece of *&^# like Barack Obama.

So far we don't have an official state media. But I'll tell you, the day I see the Buffalo News print edition behind plexi-glass downtown (like the newspapers are publicly displayed in some communist countries) I'll know we've really crossed a line that will be difficult to reverse.

BTW, any clue as to way communist countries do that with newspapers? Those pick plexi-glass display things so that the news is literally in the faces of anyone walking by.

Devorah said...

Just thank God for the internet (and the bloggers)

Lemon said...

investigative journalism and the advent of the "think piece" was the end of real journalism really and the beginning of writing that put a bias and an opinionated view into the mix.
The facts are rarely reported as plain facts and that has been going on for a very long time.

marcel said...

A free press cannot exist under a one world government and this is the unfolding agenda of the globalist which has exploded in our generation.
This is why the masses have been dumbed down, fed a pablum of fantasy,drugs,sports, 24/7 sex,ect.
Not since Nimrod have the tribes of the earth been so One,so'together'.

No one is permitted to deviate from the global 'mind'.
George Orwell would understand what we now see before us.

Something else that cannot exist under a global ggovernment is Israel.
It has to go to appease the Islamic arm of this growing beast as we see with the Durban II conference on Racism in Switzeralns today.
There is a surprising outcome to the plans of the elites as nothing ever goes according to the plan's of the treacherous wise men who rule.
The prophet Daniel wrote about our time and the calamitious end of Babel II.
The same reason for the Holy one of Israel ending this false unity which existed in the first Babel exists today,but this time it will signal the end of mans rule on earth and the promises made to Melek David fulfilled.
We are there ,at the door folks. watch out for the BHO imposters.

susan h said...

Last year I was stunned by the fact that the media did not report the truth about Obama. I had naively hoped that when "the truth" came out about him, his candidacy would be over. Like his membership in Trinity Church, his long-time and close associations with Bill Ayers and Tony Rezko, his muslim roots and bias in that direction. I kept waiting for all of this to be front page news but it never was. Chicago newspapers who know and/or should have known much more about Obama than they let on, "managed" the stories, kow-towing to Obama and his timing of and revealing of stories that Americans would want to know about Obama. Information on him should have been out the day he announced his candidacy, not after his campaign was in full swing. It was during that time my eyes opened, so to speak, and I realized that I was witnessing the death of responsible journalism. Why so many were willing to sell their souls to the devil over Obama, I could not figure out. Now the Chicago Tribune and Sun-Times are both in bankruptcy. I emailed the Tribune on several occasions last year and asked them to 'tell us the truth' about Obama. It was all sugar coated. I even asked them to go down into their lobby at the Tribune building which some of you know is a beautiful piece of architecuture with sayings carved into the walls having to do with knowledge, education, wisdom, learning, etc. I suggested they should re-read the quotes that were there so they might remember why they became journalists in the first place. I never heard from anyone and the news coming out of Chicago (and across the U.S.) was the fairy tale version of Obama, what people wanted to hear about him rather than fact. Like putting out a big story about the Obama's new dog rather than honesty about his bowing to the Saudi Prince and the fraternity handshake with Hugo Chavez.

Thank you Sultan, for articles like this.

Anonymous said...

Great article, I hope they are not going to control the Internet too. I haven't been reading newspapers for 3 years, and 10 years ago I was reading 3 newspapers a day (in Canada). I'm sorry to say, that today I root for their demise, a fitting end.

Keli Ata said...

At first I thought all of the reports about Obama removing the phrase "war on terror" for his lexicon was urban legend.

It's not. He really did say that. Obama claims "war on terror" makes it sound like the US is at war with Islam.

Now I see the media refusing to call the Somali "pirates" terrorists and wonder if the media is going along with him on this. Strange how the media is sticking to the program in not describing the water terrorists as pirates.

I'd give anything to be able to receive press releases from the White House.

Sigh. We get 'em from local, county, state, and US politicians but not the White House. Knowing the terminology HE uses and how the media reports on his releases would be quite interesting.

Pirate...sounds like a cartoon character, say Capt. Hook, from Peter Pan.

Yochana said...

"...or that his wife knows a dress from a curtain,"

ROFL!!! Priceless!!!!

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