Monday, February 20, 2017

Is the media really 'the enemy of the American people'?

President Donald Trump is nothing if not the king of absolutely over-the-top hyperbolic rhetoric, so it's easy to put his "enemy of the American people" remarks about certain media outlets in that category. Journalists I know have taken to social media to post the American Founders' quotes about the importance of a free press, and they've developed the hashtag #notyourenemy. But the question you have to ask yourself as a consumer is, if you're an average working American trying to raise children with a modicum of values and respect for others, and especially if you don't toe the Leftist line politically, have the media acted as your friends?

Let's first take a close look at what Trump said. In a tweet, he said, "The FAKE NEWS media (failing @nytimes, @NBCNews, @ABC, @CBS, @CNN) is not my enemy, it is the enemy of the American People!" Notice that Trump didn't single out the conscientious individual reporter working for his or her hometown newspaper. he singled out five specific media corporations, including the three major networks. So let's take a look at them.

NBC, ABC and CBS have the privilege of being beamed over the air to every home in America, including your child's bedroom. They use that privilege by giving us shows like "Saturday Night Live," which attacks former Trump campaign chief and current adviser Kellyanne Conway -- a private citizen who was virtually unknown before the campaign -- in vicious, personal terms, and "The View," which regularly mocks and belittles Christians and compares their views to those of the Taliban. ABC and CBS accuse average folks who supported Trump of wanting to "bring dictatorship to the country." These networks are constantly working to fan the flames of racial hatred and mistrust, which negatively impacts every community.

The New York Times? Aside from their acting as a campaign arm of the Democratic Party, they are publicly advocating efforts to "destroy the business model" of New Media outlets, thereby providing average folks with fewer choices for news. This desire is not limited to the New York Times; David Brody of CBN tells of getting "death stares" from major corporate reporters at White House press conferences. And CNN? Their reputation is in such a shambles that even their own guests are calling them "fake news."

And it's not just the Manhattan-Beltway media that have this false sense of superiority. In the newsrooms of major corporate-owned newspapers across the country, journalists wear their self-described distinction of being "not of this community" with a badge of honor. Here are just two of what I guarantee are many examples I've witnessed. An editor once told me that Christians are bigots by definition because they opposed gay marriage. Another editor, when discussing a local Memorial Day observation's use of the phrase "fallen heroes," said you're not a hero just because you went overseas, shot up a village and got yourself killed. Again, these are two of many stories I could recite, including the making up of nasty nicknames for local dignitaries. Fortunately none of these examples were with my present employer.

Journalist and author Jeffrey Lord writes in a column titled "The Media Versus America":
The media is out of touch. It isn’t just that it’s Left — which it is — but it has also long since ceased having honest and open conversations with the millions of Americans who have come over the decades to view the talking heads as a bunch of overprivileged arrogant and self-centered jerks who look down on the very people who get up everyday and make this country work. [...]

How should the media react to this? A suggestion here. No one is threatening the First Amendment. Hysteria about that does not help the situation. But it certainly seems that journalists across the media would do well to do some soul searching in their own individual Bat Caves. If they want to be liberals or conservatives or Trump supporters or Never Trumpers or whatever — well then have at it. But for those who construct the daily ebb and flow of individual stories that have come to be dubbed “narratives?”

Wouldn’t it be better — more productive and more credible — to stop reflexively looking across the country and filling airwaves and print space with stories that are always trying to portray, say, Trump supporters/conservatives/Republicans as a bunch of racist-sexist-homophobic-Islamaphobic-xenophobic frothing immigrant haters?

Aside from the fact that this is, in reality, preposterously untrue, it doesn’t help the journalists to do their jobs well — not to mention that it eats away at their credibility. As a result, a significant portion of the country has arrived at the conclusion to not believe a single thing they say.
Unfortunately, I have seen nothing in my nearly 30-year career that gives me confidence that corporate media types are capable of the kind of mass introsspection that Lord is hoping for. I think the best thing consumers can hope for is that some of these media companies go out of business, and that the networks get out of the news business, and be replaced by New Media and niche-media outlets that better serve and respect their audiences.

As for Trump, I think the use of the word "enemy" by the president of the United States should be reserved for very few individuals and countries. For the president to call businesses "the enemy of the American people" is akin for many people to calling them an enemy of the state. Hopefully his advisers, and perhaps the push-back he's receiving from members of Congress, will encourage Trump to tone down the rhetoric a bit.

But what bent-out-of-shape journalists need to remember is that they only have their own industry's loss of credibility to blame for the fact that somebody like Trump 1) got elected despite their efforts to oppose him and 2) can now get away with calling them out in stark terms without facing a backlash from the American people. It's never a very healthy situation when a national leader is more trusted than the people that are supposed to be watching him, but that's what we have now. That won't change until we develop a dominant media that respects the readers and viewers they're supposed to be serving.

1 comment:

  1. Excellent post Tim. However, I highly doubt the dominant media will ever respect the readers and viewers they're supposed to be serving. They have an agenda, and it is in conflict with what those of us who love American stand for.

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