Longtime PBS journalist Bill Moyers recently said that: “News is what people want to keep hidden and everything else is publicity.” Nowhere is this statement truer than in the media coverage of today’s political environment. Several years ago one of my university professors started a lecture by cautioning that we should not believe everything that we hear and read in the major media. Today, I might rephrase this to say that, with few exceptions, we should believe very little of what we are exposed to from major news outlets.
Modern day “journalists,” or rather sensation seekers, are now the rule rather than the exception within many news organizations. Their raison d’etre is to cover shock value publicity items that outrage and entertain audiences, rather than the fair and balanced investigative news reporting of yesteryear that helped viewers understand what was really happening in the world around them.
Perhaps the worst offender among these is Fox News assisted by right-wing talk radio hosts across the country. These outlets offer up content that is little more than personal opinion and political propaganda dressed up to look like news. Much like the “information” disseminated by the former Soviet press during the Cold War period of the mid-to-late 20th Century, the right-wing propaganda machine today promotes the party line, replacing truths with misinformation in support of the political agenda of the Republican base—the religious and fiscal far right in the United States.
This view was recently augmented by a Fairleigh Dickenson University Public Mind Poll, which found that among adult New Jerseyans: “Sunday morning news shows do the most to help people learn about current events, while some outlets, especially Fox News, lead people to be even less informed than those who say they don’t watch any news at all.”
Present day viewing audiences conditioned to expect Jerry Springer-like fights and shouting matches, appear to be drawn to “news” reports that replicate this absurd behavior; reporting that Fox News is famous for. While “infotainment” such as this does have its place in the media ecosystem, the damage it can wreak on society, in politics and on the government can be considerable if it is not countered and controlled by a legitimate press that is able to ferret out the truth and hold the culprits responsible.
For example, Gugelplex TV believes that several of America’s current-day trouble spots—income inequality and lack of jobs which sparked the 99% (Occupy Wall Street) Movement; bank deregulation and lack of corporate fiscal accountability which is largely responsible for the so-called “great recession;” environmental deregulation leading to disasters like the Exxon Valdez and BP Deepwater Horizon oil spills; and the now debunked intelligence that provided the last Bush administration with the ammunition it needed to create two military occupations under the War on Terrorism umbrella, might have been avoided if truth-seeking press watchdogs had been on the scene rather than the fantasy journalists we have in place today.
Given the importance and urgency of today’s myriad of global problems, Gugelplex TV is hoping that, at least journalistically, things will not have to get worse before they get better. We hope that we will soon see a return to major media hard news reporting rather than a continuation of publicity reporting masquerading as news.
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