Andy Driscoll: The Truth? It’s Never Really Been There in Journalism

Driscoll

I have added remarks to what actually may be a pretty naïve short entry by Mark Karlin of BuzzFlash on the actual sponsorship of a candidate by CNN. First Mark…then yours truly. (Thanks to John Kalbrener for passing this on.)

...Almost Everywhere In The Media Means More Profit For Corporations And To Hell With Our Right To Know The Realities -- Without The Denials And Pretentions Of Fair And Honest Reporting By Sold-Out News Editors And Reporters Covering Their Asses (Kalbrener)

From Mark Karlin BuzzFlash

December 18, 2010

Did you hear the joke about CNN sponsoring a Republican presidential candidate debate with the Tea Party as a partner?

Well, it's not a joke.

According to Mother Jones, "Sam Feist, CNN's political director, says the arrangement was designed to give undecided voters a way to educate themselves about ' "diverse perspectives" within the Republican Party, including those of the Tea Party.' It's not the first time CNN has partnered with this group. Earlier this year, CNN embedded with Tea Party Express on one of its bus tours, giving the group extensive (positive) coverage."

Hold that outraged laughter for a moment. Each year, the media corporations get more and more skewed toward titillation and craven appeals to "targeted news marketing." And that is dangerous to a democracy.

Television news, in particular, has long since become an entertainment product, something that is sandwiched between commercials. To get higher fees for ads, the mediacorporations need to attract more viewers. And to attract more viewers, they need to sensationalize and reinforce a viewer's worldview, not objectively report the news.

In essence, "the news" has become another branded consumer product. It's not about a balanced perspective on what is happening in the world or the key policy issues facing the nation; it's about what will attract more viewership.

Yes, CNN is making a concession to the populist right wing, which is perceived as being in political ascendancy in Congress, but it is also trying to attract a niche market share normally "owned" by FOX. Accurate news hasn't been seen as profitable since the days of Edward R. Murrow and Walter Cronkite, but selling an "attitude" about the "news" is -- or in the case of FOX, making the news up to fit a political prism.

Many progressives, including BuzzFlash, may feel vindicated that a recent study indicated that FOX viewers are the most misinformed about the news. Indeed, according to TPM, "as exposure to Fox News increased, so did the misinformation."

But the study also showed that consumers of broadcast news outlets, in general, had many facts distorted, just to a much lesser degree than FOX viewers.

It's a perilous time for lucid decision making when "the news" is adapted to preconceived ideas and prejudices that can increase big media profits, rather than exposing us to the truth. A perilous time indeed.

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Driscoll:

The early newspapers were little more than vehicles for political rhetoric and slants on "the news." In fact, most newspapers were founded by political parties or those wanting to start one. The phony push for "objectivity" in news gathering and delivery did little more than hornswoggle a public itching to learn "the truth" from "professional journalists" who, while gathering the information necessary to convey it, found it filtered through editors and publishers made so by their biases. And it all carried over in spades to electronic newsrooms.

The Hearsts and Grahams and all the other information moguls in their respective markets were out to control the flow of information and the flow of commerce, including the sale of advertising as the financing tool to make people believe their news is/was "free." Meanwhile, those same information empire builders started wars, ruined businesses and competitors as well as thousands of individuals publishers needed out of the way. They saw to it the law hanged or executed innocent men and women by using their papers and stations as ropes and electric chairs.

From Gibbon and Aristotle on down to the present day, the search for truth in the news is a futile one.

There's more, obviously, but we need to wake up the public, even to our own biases in reporting and presenting public affairs we find compelling, if necessary, if only to keep people from being sucked in as they have for millennia by the promise of printing and airing "The Truth."

In fact, we should welcome the return to “honest” and open advocacy of a point of view, or support of a candidate (or several), of endorsing a party perspective – by all news outlets in the USofA.  Such candor in coverage allows readers and viewers and listeners to determine where corporate media actually stand and drop the pretense that The Truth or The News is forever and always tainted by its presenters.

Andy

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