The trust which people seem to have had in the media has all but evaporated. Despite all their differences, both Liberals and Conservatives agree that the news (if we can still call it that) is anything but impartial. Even journalists (like Ted Koppel) are saying that the news media has acted inappropriately. This speaks to the problem of media consolidation, of mergers & acquisitions, and to the problems we’ve all been warned of when too few people control too many sources of information: It becomes very easy to sway the apathetic populace.
Newspapers, and journalism in general, were the first to go. Newspapers have been closing down… no, dropping like flies is a better phrase. I think it started on 9/11/2001 when the FBI claimed that nineteen Saudi men were responsible for something they had nothing to do with, and when one man in particular, who was never officially implicated, was blamed by everyone but the FBI. Then came the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. By this time, the media was so far gone into the unchecked ‘facts’ that they could no longer go back. They were complicit in their collusion and war-mongering and race-baiting with government and could, therefore, not retrace their position for fear of loss of their reputation. They hedged their positions with news stories exposing minor government lies at the expense of the whoppers.
The declining trend in the newspaper industry has been attributed to the rise of the internet, but I’m not so sure. That might be backwards. Maybe, because the news media stopped doing its job, people turned to the internet. When journalists are told what to write, they stop looking for stories. When that happens, people notice and begin to lose trust in the system. News turns into propaganda. This always precedes the rise of authoritarianism. This time, despite being better disguised, the people started to see through the veil. This eroded trust in the media, trust in long-standing institutions, and trust in the government (which aligned itself very closely with the propaganda machine.) It also raised the question, “If everything is fine with democracy in the USA, why does the media feel the need to lie to us?”
The financial crisis of 2007/2008 was the next step in the collusion between the elected and the falsely and self-proclaimed defenders of democracy, the press. Obviously the headlines were wrong. Nobody, thanks to the subsequent rise of political correctness, said anything for fear of reprisals. The Patriot Act was named thusly, not because it was a particularly patriotic piece of legislation, rather, because patriots would be targeted. This was the opening salvo in the war between populism and globalism. It now became illegal to take a position contrary to the establishment view.
Politicians should not ask why we do not trust them, they have always lied. The advent of the internet and of cell-phone technology makes this easier to prove. The press, however, has always been trusted; and now that we know it did not merit such trust, we are starting to walk-back our position towards them. It turns out that there has been very little truth in the media, even going back as far as Cronkite. Maybe it started with Kennedy, maybe it has been going on for far longer than that.
The ‘Official Story’, no matter what it references, must always be verified lest democracy be lost in the trade. When the news stops doing its job, we must rely on other sources, namely, each other. Rumour has had to replace journalism, the people have nothing else with which to do the job.
Do you feel vulnerable? You need look no further than the current election reporting to know that something isn’t right. Edward R. Murrow is doing cartwheels.