Media in Trouble: All the news thats UNfit to print!: Shoot the Messenger. The death of Investigative Journalism.

"The information of the people at large can alone make them safe, as they are the sole depositary of our political and religious freedom." --Thomas Jefferson 1810

Friday, November 12, 2004

Shoot the Messenger. The death of Investigative Journalism.

Following the post-election trend, the media (like the Democratic Party) is trying to regroup and reconsider its stance in this country. I was little impressed with the recent Newseum Panel looking forward to a Second Bush term (C-SPAN). The conference was supposed to address the shocking poll numbers in favor of the now over-covered, over-analyzed “value voters” and where the press went wrong in the first term. Ignoring the numbers making up more than 40% of the electorate concerned with Iraq and Terror. One can only watch in awe as these numbers of course reflect the lackadaisical media’s apathy at getting their questions answered. A majority of American’s are still thinking Saddam demolished the World Trade Center and that the WMD’s are in Iraq, were there, or have already been found there (albeit by the insurgents).

Judging whether or not they are biased, media outlets are fortunate enough to wear their politics on their front pages. The so called “informers of the electorate” should be asking themselves why they endorsed a candidate at all. Whilst allowing politicians to fly by press conferences without reporters pointing out lies.

A keen observer at the conference was indeed wise to this fact essentially asking why the media didn’t hold The Hill’s feet to the fire leading up to and throughout the Iraq war. In response, Juan Williams (NPR) and the rest of the panel resorted to the Fox News credo “we report you decide” concluding with “do you want to shoot the messenger? I think that’s ridiculous.” Meanwhile, the midst of this conference, fact based “rumors” of widespread voter fraud circulate ON the internet and OFF the major media outlets. The “legitimate” press is quick to blame bloggers stating they too had an impact on forwarding false news.

It was Dan Rather who when attempting to surface the fact based (yet poorly documented) story about Bush’s past got pummeled for being partisan. Where is this country's press going? They have become a mere spokesgroup for the liars on The Hill. Recalling Dick Cheney’s statements about “operational relationships between Saddam and OBL”, interviewers rarely ask (or re-ask) questions that can be called “Hardballs.” Only once in the election cycle do I recall a reporter actually stating, “He didn’t answer my question” kudos Gwen Ifill.

Monitoring press from around the world Freedom House released a report in which the United States “free press” stands measly 15th on the global list with countries such as Palau and St. Lucia ahead of them. When watching news from countries like Portugal (lower on the list) where they hound and harass politicians to, as president Bush said, “keep them honest.” This report was released in April, before the bloodiest months in Iraq were ahead of us.

Carole Simpson claimed that news programs are not geared towards young audiences, and their apathy is part of the reason they didn’t vote. A conference such as this has ignored the fact that the youth turnout was in fact 4.6 million stronger, choosing instead to look at the percentage of the electorate. The same media publishing that Bush has a mandate, ignoring the 55 million votes against him. Why should the youth watch themselves being ignored?

The press has become the provider of the pundits with words from The Hill. Leaving it to the pundits to decide for the people who is telling the truth and who is not. Should we blame the pundits? They are just using the preaching the distortions allowed by incomplete stories. Answering the questions that go unasked by the press corps.

Not once in the Newseum Conference was Corporate media control addressed by the panel of journalists (among them conservative columnist Pat Buchanan).

Journalists are quick to state that they can loose their sources should they make them walk on hot coals. As long as books from Washington insiders such as Anonymous, Robert Byrd, Paul O’Neil, Richard Clarke, the 911 Commission, and others riddle the best seller lists, I strongly doubt these sources will be exhausted.

The death of investigative journalism is near, with the only story that can possibly be called investigative journalism during Bush’s first term was the Abu Ghraib scandal unearthed the way any story should be, by Seymour Hersh. Unfortunately, Mr. Hersh was not on the Newseum panel.