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Monday, May 18, 2009

American Journalism and the Politics of Distract and Attack

Hello Papamoka Bloggers! Well it was another weekend of American Sunday talk shows giving angry Republicans a place to distract and attack. This time it was the Pelosi distraction. What's next?

As usual, the follow-up questions were slim to none. It's clear the weekend talk shows have been compromised by the same disease that infests the cable news shows, and it's not pretty.

William Randolph Hearst would be thrilled to know that his legacy of yellow journalism for corporate profit and power is alive and well. Finding the truth on the Sunday talk shows, which used to matter, seems to be less important these days. They're all stuck on the same Washington spin cycle, and what's good for America and it's people is way down their agenda.

I guess we all should be wise to the media's game of hosting false interviews for the sole purpose of generating high ratings, but it still irritates many of us who remain hopeful for things to improve under Obama. I guess the dumbing-down of American journalism - and America - is in full swing, whatever president or party is in power.

Let's face it, we live in a "corporatocracy," and the CEOs are in charge.

It's bad enough large chunks of America watch propaganda spewed by beauty queens and ex-fashion models on FOX "News," but I had hoped the trend would steer clear of intelligent journalism. Unfortunately, Meet the Press, This Week and Face the Nation all seem to be headed down that path as well. I guess we shouldn't be surprised when Miss California soon co-hosts Meet the Press. I guess it's only a matter of time.

You know it's bad when I regret that Meet the Press didn't go to Chris Matthews. He's not perfect - swings to and fro with the prevailing political winds too much, but at least he'll challenge a guest with facts every now and then. David Gregory has become a tool of the Washington elite - he's lost credibility with me these days. I never thought I would miss the days of Tim Russert and his pull quotes.

He was no Edward R. Morrow, but at least news-makers would squirm when he used their own quotes to contradict their latest spin. Gregory doesn't do the homework. He's too easy on them.

Yes, it's clear that American journalism has been broken by its corporate overlords. Now it all seems to be bought-and-paid-for by the Washington elite and it's attack dogs, the DC PR industry. Once great news organizations have been reduced to pseudo-news entertainment designed to illicit fast one-liners, stir political gossip and discover meaningless political intrigue. High ratings stem from colorful news, not informative news.

It all seems designed to get us to tune in without actually informing us of anything important. It's almost as if we're witnessing another free market bubble, but this time it's a corporate news bubble, where we're kept fat and happy on large helpings of distraction and spin. It's obviously all designed to manipulate us into a false sense of control. Unfortunately, it's an illusion. They have all the control.

If it wasn't for a few die-hard print news organizations that bloggers like us rely on, the American people would be left to fend for themselves. We owe them our thanks. I may sound naive, but I do believe they sacrifice some of their potential profit to help us. I do want to believe that so much.

Most of this is the fault of Newt Gingrich and the Republican Congress of the nineties. The GOP wanted corporations to own larger chunks of America's media -Rupert Murdoch and FOX "News" donated most of the support. It was a battle with the Democrats, but in the end President Bill Clinton was too distracted and accepted the deregulation of American media. It was a huge mistake that has led us to this depressing point in our history.

It's bad enough that ratings are now controlling journalism, but it's even worse when you think about how special interests - like industrial-military, health care and pharmaceuticals - control it too. We've all seen Lockheed Martin, Boeing and big pharm commercials while watching the news. Doesn't it make you wonder just what kind of impact they're having on those corporate news rooms? It should, because they are having an impact.

Unfortunately, we probably don't even know the worst of it. Let us hope and pray that it's not too horrible, or too late.

The PR journalism of distract and attack needs to end. The American people need to demand serious media reform now. I realize that it's not high on the agenda, but the President and Congress need to make it so - and long before the next big elections. Serious journalists and congressional investigators cannot do it all alone. They need our help now. As I always say, please take the time to contact your representatives. Let them know that America needs serious media reform. The truth is out there, and we need to find it.

Michael Boh
Papamoka's Left Coast Contributor
from Our Rants & Raves Blog

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's bad enough large chunks of America watch propaganda spewed by beauty queens and ex-fashion models on FOX "News,"

I have to say regarding this statement. Why would you attack a Fox "Opinion" show for giving a "Fair" platform and calling it "propaganda" to Miss California who was "Unfairly" attacked by MSNBC,for having a point of view other than theirs?
Who of course is owned by the "Big Business" GE who also campaigns for "Obama" the guy you want things to change under?
So it's Rupert Murdoh's fault and here all along I thought it was all Bush's Fault. :)

1:35 PM  
Blogger by Michael Boh said...

Lisa, I don't understand your comment very well, but I stick by what I wrote. I never said that MSNBC wasn't a big corporation, but I do think they're slightly less horrible than FOX. I stick by my point that Murdoch hurt the whole system. Just look at what's unfolding since his introduction to America. My bottom line is that the whole system needs to be upgraded and improved - for better accuracy at the very least.

1:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Slightly less horrible Mike? For 2 years they were the prosecutors in the Valerie(non case)Plame incident. Fox is more of "Defend against what the others are reporting" type of show.
Why do you think talk radio came
to be? It was the voice from the other side of the aisle to counter years of pro-democrat/anti- republican media.

2:19 PM  
Blogger by Michael Boh said...

Lisa - The fact that you dismiss the Valerie Plame case as an "incident" and view FOX as some kind of innocent minority opinion network tells me a lot about where you're coming from. I'm sorry, but I don't have time to to counter all the propaganda you've been exposed to, but I do recommend that you seek more valid news sources.

I will say that it's foolish for either of us to fight for a "side" when it comes to journalism. Whether you BELIEVE it or not, I'm only fighting for the facts and the truth, not a specific side. Whether you KNOW it or not, FOX "News" doesn't tell the truth most of the time. There are plenty of reputable checks and balances making that case every day.

"Fair and balanced" should be more than just words Lisa. Journalism in it's true form is real, and something tells me that you haven't been exposed to a lot of it yet. I suggest more exploration.

2:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mike I think you are generalizing Fox news into 2 shows-O'reilly and Hannity who don't make themselvs out to be journalists but "opinion" shows.
They are not the whole network.
PS-I d watch other networks but MSNBC has just gotten too painful so I stick with CNN. And yes I do like Charlie Rose and Tavis Smiley as well.

3:22 PM  
Blogger Papamoka said...

I happen to agree with Michael on this one that the MSM is off kilter and we are lacking a hard hitting media response to everything going on in America. I think we can all agree that Fox News is firmly planted in the right wing farm and that MSNBC is firmly planted in the left wing farm. Thus, I wonder like Michael after reading the full post, where is the truth to be found?

Great post Michael. And Lisa, behave yourself with throwing out "talking points" that have nothing to do with the article written. You can do better than that and discuss the article.

3:26 PM  
Anonymous Infidel753 said...

For an example of Fox's dishonesty, see here.

3:33 PM  
Blogger Papamoka said...

Very interesting point Infidel! They morphed the entire discussion into a sound bite. That sounds too familiar for the GOP to do.

4:48 PM  

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