Friday, December 01, 2006

The Public Suffers Whiplash As The Media Turns On A Dime

I’ve been having a hard time getting my bearings lately, partially due to the shift in the public debate that has been so sharp as to leave me reeling.  A mere month ago, the debate about Iraq was simplified by traditional media as “stay the course” versus “cut and run” with the Democrats playing the coward to Bush’s war hero.  What a difference a month makes.  Now, suddenly there is frank discussion by traditional media and the American people are finally being presented with the truth of just how bad things are in Iraq.  It must be a shock to those who don’t regularly get their news online, those of us that do have been aware of the scope of the disaster for some time.  For years, traditional media has all but ignored the reality of this Presidents failure in Iraq in favor of playing up the Bush administration’s false rosy picture of their democracy spreading.  When did it become the media’s job to insulate politicians from the effects of world events and the fallout from their own bad decisions?

It’s infuriating that honesty in reporting is dependent on where we are in the election cycle.  In the weeks leading up to the election, the violence in Iraq was attributed to terrorists, but in the weeks after the election, it is due to an escalating civil war.  Did the reality on the ground in Iraq change so dramatically over those weeks as to radically shift the debate, or was it simply that the corporate owned media held off on revealing the truth in an attempt to help the GOP, sorry, I mean not influence the outcome of the election?  Again, when did it become the job of the media to hold off bad news so as not to “influence” an election?  

Aren’t we supposed to have access to accurate and reliable information so that we can make an educated decision when it comes to choosing our leaders?  Isn’t the press supposed to be the conduit for that information?  That we are seeing a more honest discussion about Iraq on television and in our newspapers now, after the election, just highlights the lack of an honest debate beforehand.  While I’m glad to see a more accurate picture of Iraq being presented to more people, I’m angry that so many were left out of the discussion, simply because they still trust that corporate “news” is an accurate, unbiased source of information.  Traditional media may provide that service sometimes, but that they don’t at critical times (arguably when it matters most), makes them unreliable and manipulative at best.  At worst, traditional media is simply a tool for powerful interests that have a dog in the fight, which leaves us to play the sheep.  If that’s the case, I’d almost prefer Fox News, at least they don’t bother with the sheep’s clothing.  I’d rather be driven off the cliff by a wolf than a wolf pretending to be one of us.


Anonymous GeoCrackr said...

I understand the value of rhetorical questions, so I'll refrain from adding to your rant on the SCLM (whose failings have been a constant irritant to me ever since I first became aware that they were propping up an idiotic sociopath named Reagan as America's folksy protector).

Instead, I'll add an aside about the establishment Dems' echoing of the corporate media story line, to the point of actively sabotaging (even as late as this week) attempts by any of their own party to bring the discussion around to anything approaching reason. Just look at the standing ovation HolyJoe got from the Dems after he beat (with the help of a lot of Rethugs and a little violation of campaign finance laws) the actual Democratic candidate, whose popularity was based on his frank discussion of the war -- I mean, what the fuck is wrong with these people?!

1:53 PM  
Anonymous Betty Cracker said...

The state of the media is an absolute disgrace. Geocrackr's link to the Webb story is right on -- the media is trying to make Webb out to be the crazy when in fact Bush was acting like a bullying cretin. Astonishingly enough, PEGGTY freaking NOONAN defends Webb! The world truly has turned upside down.

7:18 AM  
Blogger amphimacer said...

As to the media to which most Americans have access, apparently most Americans don't give a flying whatzit. PBS broadcasts the BBC World News, which has been showing most of the worst pictures. And they're watching Fox "News"; that's the sad truth, isn't it?

5:40 PM  
Anonymous luypuqji said...

Well, Rupert Murdoch comes from a tradition of media meddling in politics that can be compared to William Randolph Hearst's efforts of 100 years ago.

The diffence is that there are so few alternatives and Murdoch's rivals want to play Citizen Kane as well.

The crisis in journalism is similar to that in politics: Who pays the piper? The lobbyists call the tunes in Congress and corporate advertisers call the editorial slant of the media.

The Constitution places an obligation on Congress to ensure the freedom of the press. That means breaking up cartels, regulating fair coverage, and restricting the advertising revenues.

As long as there is only a "bought" press in America, there will be no national dialogue on the environment, universal healthcare, defence, or electoral reform.

10:01 PM  

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