Bargain Basement Prices On The Fourth Estate
The media consolidation that has occurred over the six years of the Bush administration has been devastating to our democracy while simultaneously acting as the buoy that keeps this administration afloat. With a truly independent news media, this President could never have survived this long. Bush has acted irresponsibly (immorally, illegally) in pushing his first strike policy that has resulted in our military being bogged down in Iraq. He has run up a debt that would make Reagan blush and he has failed to implement even the most basic security measures that would help protect the homeland while allowing North Korea (and soon Iran) to join the nuclear arms race. He has amassed unprecedented extra-constitutional executive power while defying our constitution by spying on American citizens. He signed into law the repeal of habeas corpus and the withdrawal of the Geneva Conventions all with barely a word from the Fourth Estate. If there was any doubt left that independent reporting is dead in traditional media, surely that can be safely put to rest now.
This abdication of their traditional role as watchdog can be seen nationally when The New York Times all but apologizes to the Bush administration for exposing their surveillance of banking transactions, and we can see it locally as newspapers across the country, despite the public’s disgust with this corrupt Republican Congress, endorse Republican candidates in their area. What we are seeing here in Washington State is a perfect example of what’s happening around the country, our newspapers are out of touch with the citizens they serve and are making endorsements based on personal gain rather than what’s in the best interest of the public.
Sure, newspapers are businesses like any other and their main objective is to make money, but when they callously and blatantly attempt to manipulate the public into voting against their own interest, and in favor of what’s best for the paper and its owners, it’s time we reject their propaganda and refuse to pay even a quarter for the privilege. While there is a lot of talk about online independent news sources and blogs eating into the market share of newspapers, alternative sources of news are not doing nearly the damage to traditional media as it is doing to itself. Supporting the status quo is one thing, but by going full tilt against public sentiment and common sense, American newspapers are dropping the veil and exposing their willingness to act as the last line of defense for this corrupt Republican Party. We can see that our newspapers are being used to plug up the holes of this sinking ship, and that damage will linger long after this administration is gone.
For their part, The Seattle Times has endorsed Dave Reichert and their public reasons for doing so are so laughable as to barely hide their true motivations. At a time when the American people are fed up with this do-nothing Congress, the Times endorses Dave “I’ll vote how you want me to, Mr. Bush” Reichert and has the audacity to claim it’s because Reichert is an “independent” voice in the Congress. Are you kidding me? Reichert explained to his base that he only voted against the Right’s pet bills because he was asked to do so by the White House and Congressional leaders as a result of calculations made about the swing nature of his district. The Seattle Times, in endorsing Reichert, has proved (yet again) that they are not fit to line a birdcage let alone inform the public.
One could argue that the Seattle Times is more comfortable endorsing an incumbent unless that incumbent has done something fundamentally wrong, but then how do you explain their endorsement of Mike McGavick? Surely, if the Times were just supporting the status quo, they would have endorsed Maria Cantwell as well, but they didn’t. Instead, the Times has exposed itself as the biased rag it is, interested primarily in abolishing the Estate Tax and paving the way for further media consolidation.
I’d like to think that newspaper endorsements of candidates don’t carry the weight they once did, but there is still a segment of the population that relies on newspapers for information. The problem is that newspapers are no longer unbiased sources and their role as watchdogs of democracy has been completely abandoned. For a liberal city like Seattle, The Times is an embarrassment. I only hope that they become as irrelevant as they are determined to make themselves, as quickly as is humanly possible. When I first moved to Seattle twelve years ago, it took only a day to figure out that the Post-Intelligencer was the better paper. But since the Times often has more pages of print, I have been using it as packing material, cushioning my holiday gifts as I pack up boxes to send around the country. This year, I’ll invest in some bubble wrap instead.