The Failure of Our “Free” Press

For all the talk of a “free” press that has the guts to tackle the powerful, the truth is our press is mainly a for-profit operation that is largely owned by the powerful. We get a lapdog press instead of a watchdog; we certainly don’t get an attack dog. I wrote about this in January of 2012; what I didn’t foresee is how that press would facilitate the rise of a petty demagogue like Donald Trump, mainly because he’s good for ratings and serves the needs of the powerful, but also because so many Americans have lost faith in the media, so much so that they buy the lies of a con man and serial liar like Trump. In short, if you’re tired of the corporate-friendly lies at CNN, why not turn to the entertaining conspiracy theories and lies of a manipulator like Trump?

If America truly had a watchdog press that protected the people, a serial liar like Trump should never have gained such a powerful purchase on our national narrative. Even now, as Trump continues to endanger our national health during a pandemic, the press largely treats him as a “normal” president.

The Failure of Our “Free” Press

01/13/2012

W,J. Astore

Do we have a truly free press, one that is willing to challenge the powerful and to serve the people?

A recent editorial by Arthur S. Brisbane at the New York Times suggests that our press is more lapdog than watchdog.

A truly free press needs guts. It needs to be willing to say, “I accuse.” Yet as Glenn Greenwald points out, our mainstream media today willingly acts as “stenographers” to the high and mighty, as if established elites need more support and more privileges.

The other day I ran across a passage in Arthur Schopenhauer’s Essays and Aphorisms that has much to say about freedom of the press as well as the perils of source anonymity. In full it reads:

“Freedom of the press is to the machinery of the state what the safety-valve is to the steam engine: every discontent is by means of it immediately relieved in words—indeed, unless this discontent is very considerable, it exhausts itself in this way. If, however, it is very considerable, it is as well to know of it in time, so as to redress it. — On the other hand, however, freedom of the press must be regarded as a permit to sell poison: poison of the mind and poison of the heart. For what cannot be put into the heads of the ignorant and credulous masses? — especially if you hold before them the prospect of gain and advantages. And of what misdeeds is man not capable once something has been put into his head? I very much fear, therefore, that the dangers of press freedom outweigh its usefulness, especially where there are legal remedies available for all grievances. In any event, however, freedom of the press should be conditional upon the strictest prohibition of any kind of anonymity.”

That last statement is the kicker. The media’s stenographer-types market the “poison” of the elites, whether governmental or corporate, and they often do so under the cover of source anonymity. As a result, the “credulous” masses have no way to track the poisoners, and few avenues to find an antidote.

Schopenhauer’s statement also condemns our press for its failure to serve as a “safety-valve” for democracy. Indeed, because our mainstream press is so sycophantic, it fails in its democratic duty to relieve the people’s discontent, notably in its failure to empower the people to redress the abuses of power by established elites.

When our “free” press agonizes over whether it should challenge the “facts” of societal elites, is it any wonder why so many people have lost faith in it?

Hence the rise of the various “occupy” movements. They know that the mainstream press is in thrall to power and is therefore compromised, thus they’re seeking a new path to redress their grievances — and new antidotes to the poison spread by the powerful to intoxicate the minds and hearts of the powerless.

Our press, as Schopenhauer notes, has much power to spread poison, but it also has the ability to serve as an antidote to the poison spread by others.

The ideal of freedom of the press, so crucial to democracy, is upheld only when its practitioners willingly challenge the so-called “facts” of the powerful.

Give us a watchdog press willing to bite the hand that feeds it, not a lapdog that snaps up all the little treats fed to it by its masters.

Professor Astore writes regularly for TomDispatch.com and can be reached at wjastore@gmail.com.

72 thoughts on “The Failure of Our “Free” Press

  1. Well said WJA!

    I wonder why more news organisations have not decided to follow The Guardian’s model of not-for-profit whereby they are NOT beholding to advertisers or owners…

    Stay strong, Paul Drouin Quebec City (Canada)

    Liked by 1 person

  2. As an Independently Minded Person I’ve watched over the past four years how the Press has supported and egged on the Democrats, Socialists and Extreme Far Left’s Coup attempts against Trump. Who is far more “Teflon Coated” then Reagan ever was. It seems that even the Wuhan Virus isn’t strong enough to take him out.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Coup attempts? Haven’t witnessed any. That so-called impeachment didn’t have a prayer of succeeding.

      With respect to coups, it’s not the “Far Left” that has all the guns … nor is the “Far Left” trying to suppress your vote.

      Why is Trump “Teflon Coated”? Because he doesn’t threaten the so-called deep state; he sure doesn’t threaten corporate interests. Indeed, in distracting everyone, in monopolizing media coverage, Trump serves the interests of the powerful while also advancing his own financial interests.

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      1. No the Far Left has been rioting and looting all summer long while threatening to bring their revolution into the suburbs.

        As for Trump enriching himself Biden didn’t do so bad himself at enriching his family; just as Billery used her/his govt. position to enrich themselves.

        It really doesn’t matter who is voted into office they will dance to the tune of Wall street or end up being assassinated.

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        1. “Rioting and looting all summer”: really? The protests have mostly been peaceful. The presence of riot police, heavily militarized, as well as unidentified federal police hasn’t helped.

          You’re right about Dems and Repubs enriching themselves; we need to get rid of these knaves and fools. But some people equate Bernie Sanders, who’s worth a couple of million at best, with the wealth of Trump, whose worth at least 1000 times that, if you believe his boasts. This narrative is just ridiculous.

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          1. LOL I suppose rioting, looting and mostly peaceful are in the eye of the beholder. Unfortunately Uncle Bern doesn’t the answer this nation is looking for and I don’t hold out much hope that Sleepy Joe or the Mighty Trumpet does either. But I do like how President Trump went after China – I just hope that, if reelected, he’ll bring the factory jobs back to the good ole u s of a.

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          1. He “went” after China in the most idiotic manner possible. & he’s NEVER going to bring back factory jobs to America. He’s never going to do a damn thing that doesn’t benefit HIM. & the media enables him in this.

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  3. The Guardian is a very poor example of “not beholden” to advertisers . . . the Guardian has doubled down on condemning Julian Assange along with the utterly corrupt kangaroo court of Judge Vanessa Baraitser and prosecuter Clair Dobbin. Once the heat of the U. S. Department of Just Fascism came down on the Guardian, the resolve of the Guardian’s publisher and editors disintegrated. So much this dubiously named “Guardian” not being “beholden” to the capitalism-militarism masters of the world in the fascist U. S. government. Assange is literally the linchpin in the U. S. government’s quest to silence dissent and to punish those who seek truth or merely ask appropriate questions. Indeed, all major corporate media, including the Guardian and NPR, have been complicit in the destruction of civil and Constitutional rights in the U. S., the U. K., and all else the rot of capitalism infests.

    Regardless of Brisbane’s words, he works for the traitorous New York Times, that cheerleader of U. S. wars and bloodshed, of genocidal U. S. government sanctions, the demonizing trumpet blaring against any government that might resist U. S. imperialism: Venezuela, Iran, Cuba, Russia, China, Nicaragua — and quick to cheer the overthrow of popularly elected leaders (e.g. Morales, in Bolivia). The NYT, Washington Post, CNN, MSNBC (aka MSDNC), ABC, CBS, NBC, Newsweek, Bloomberg, et al. ad corporatum all work in concert with the government-corporate fascist axis to deny essential information to U. S. citizens — essential for any semblance of the myth of democracy — and to deny civil and constitutional rights to any who dissent or who publish such essential information. The “Fifth Estate” of anti-social media — Facebook, Twitter, Google, Youtube, Yahoo, and other pop propaganda purveyors — have largely filled the fact-void of the corporate media with a maelstrom of disinformation, mythology, lies, distortions, gossip, and perhaps a shred of truth in a stew of s**t.

    So not to be in disagreement, I just think that this essay understates the heinous abdication of responsible journalism by corporate-collaborating fascist mouthpieces that now include former “beacons” of, at least, some sense of equity and fairness, such as NPR. The rest have long taken the swim in the sewer of vindictive media interference and punishment perpetrated by the U. S. government as a proxy for its corporations and other masters of capital. They are traitors and not to be trusted nor relied upon for facts or the truth. Worse, they promote the murderous machinations of the U. S. government and its corporate foundations.

    The gallows were created for such collaborators.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. The Corporate Press was and is so delighted to have The Trumpet as President. Fox News, MSDNC and CNN have non-stop 24/7 coverage of him. Facebook must also be overjoyed by The Trumpet. No longer is Facebook driven by how cute my pets are, how wonderful my children or grandchildren are, here is my grandma’s favorite recipe for pirogi – Oh no, it is now Trump the hero of the Republic or Trump the devil that overwhelms all else. I am not a Twitter person, I suspect the same thing happens on Twitter – Trump-Trump and more Trump.

    The McMega-Media MSDNC and CNN were all aghast at The Trumpet’s lack of paying Federal Income Tax. The Trumpet is the bad apple we are told. Never will the McMega-Media analyze just how our tax codes can be manipulated to favor the wealthy 1% or Mega-Corporations that pay little or no Federal Income Tax.

    Reporting over the last few years has revealed how the 1% have stashed billions in off shore accounts, safe from the Tax Man. No follow-up by the McMega-Media at all or even some staged Congressional investigation.

    Liked by 5 people

  5. Who is the first president to effectively challenge mainstream media, saying as you do, that they are not doing their job? Who is similarly the first President to challenge Big Pharma? How are the wars going in Syria, Iraq, Korea? How about Bahrain and UAE normalizing relations with Israel? Any new foreign wars under Trump? We are in civil war with deepstate…you are on the wrong side.

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    1. I’m not on the side of the “deep state”: I’m on the side of regular working stiffs in America. For me, the issues are health care, good jobs, decent pay, clean air and water, bridges that don’t collapse on us, roads that are safe, dams that don’t fail, etc.

      That’s what it’s all about: repairing America and making it better for all, not just for the ultra-rich.

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      1. You ignore Biden’s, Hillary’s and Harris’s history of corruption serving the wealthy and corporations and pummeling the poor. They run fraudulent primaries that scoop up funds from the little people though the presidential nominees have been fixed in advance. Harris will make it better for all? She prosecuted marijuana users and declined to prosecute corporate thieves (Willie Brown’s buddies to start and then others consistently.) Biden enriched family and friends, his mistake was showing off about it. In Ukraine he plagiarized Willie Brown’s move of putting Harris in to replace a threatening prosecutor.

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    2. Who is this person? I would like to know. Saying it’s “fake news” when it’s not fawning all over you isn’t
      “effectively” challenging mainstream media & just when did his challenge Big Pharma, I mean, like in a real way that helped people & not just make him look good for that particular photo op? “We are in a civil war with deepstate” …. ROFLMAO

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  6. One of the biggest mistakes the Republicans made was to oppose President Obama’s plan to repair, rebuild and restore our nation’s infrastructure – the electric grid and waterways etc – just to deny him a victory.

    They are now paying for that big time.

    Of course it was the feminists who pushed the Obama administration to syphon money away from the Shovel Ready Jobs Program that would have led to an ever better recovery a whole lot sooner had they left it alone.

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        1. I call reality as it is not as I would want it to be.

          As for Trump we’ll just have to wait and see what actually happens.

          The Democrats and the Far Left are in bed with and beholden to China – indeed there is evidence that the Chinese have provided funds to Black Lives Matter. And while the Democrats have promoted the Russia hoax they remain quiet about the CCP’s attempt to manipulate the 2020 election.

          As for me I simply refuse to join or support a party (Democrats) whose stated goal is to aid and abet the deliberate murder of children gestating in their mother’s womb.

          Nor will I join or support a party (Republican) whose leaders deliberately pave the way for Wall Street to create economic booms that always pop leaving everyone else worse off then they were before.

          If I had the power to do so I would set up guillotines all over this nation, round up the leaders of both parties and cleanse this nation with their blood.

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          1. Well, I can agree that the Dems really need to quit playing “the Russkie election interference” card. But that reminds me, since this original article was about the media, this Russkie BS was another example of a monolithic stance by the Establishment: day in and day out all the MSM were stating as if it was factual that Russia “interfered with,” “intervened in,” “hacked,” unduly “influenced” etc., etc. the 2016 election. Moving on, I’m afraid you are rather deficient in understanding Economics, David Green. The Boom-Bust Cycle is an intrinsic part of Capitalism, and will continue to go its merry way quite uncaring about which party holds the White House and/or US Congress. The cycle’s effects can, however, be exacerbated by stupid government policies. The Genius du Jour at head of the Federal Reserve, Mr. Powell, successor to a string of presumed other Geniuses (or so we’re asked to believe) in that post, has promised unlimited support to the financial markets to try to keep the stockmarket bubble inflated. I can assure anyone reading this that this will end very, very badly. If you buy Tech Stocks at today’s prices, you’re a fool, and they and their funds are easily parted.

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          2. Consider this President Eisenhower managed to build the Federal Highway system when the top Federal Tax Rate was 90% – that’s right 90%.

            Lets take your theory that the Boom-Bust Cycle is an intrinsic part of Capitalism to its ultimate conclusion:

            Kennedy lowered the Top Tax Rate created Boom.

            During Carter’s term the Central Bank tried to keep inflation down and the result was stagflation.

            Carter lost to Reagan who then lowered the top tax rate another Boom.

            The Tech Boom started under Clinton went Bust under Bush 2 who reduced the top Tax Rate on dividends and capital gains to 15%.

            Obama cut the tax rate on high earning Americans but raised the Top Tax Rate to what it was in the Clinton era.

            Now Trump has lowered the Tax Trump Rate from 35% to 21% another Boom.

            Since the preferred method to deal with a stagnant economy and/or a Bust is to lower the Top Tax Rate and create a Boom – what happens when the Top Tax Rate reaches 0% and can no longer be lowered?

            Lowering the Top Tax Rate not only creates an artificial bubble or boom it also causes the deficit to rise.

            And because both the President and Congress continue to spend money like drunken sailors the taxes brought in aren’t enough to pay down the National Debt. Much less pay the bills so once again money has to be borrowed and the National Debt soars along with the deficit.

            Which then help create the conditions for another Bust – Hence Boom-Bust Cycle’s are artificially created to enrich the few while impoverishing the many.

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          3. Not sure about the cause-and-effect progression you’re suggesting. For instance, I wouldn’t ascribe the tech boom to Reagan’s lowering of the corporate tax rate. I’d say there was a whole gamut of factors involved, most unrelated to corporate taxes. As we’ve seen most unfortunately in recent years, tax decreases for businesses result primarily in the lining of owners’ and shareholders’ pockets, not in economic booms.

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          4. Very important point, Denise, which I’d meant to slip into my previous comment: the great bulk of the corporate tax savings generated by recent tax cuts has been spent on buying back shares of those corporations’ stock, and for executive bonuses. Precious, precious little has been spent on innovative tech or new hires.

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          5. As I’d stated, bad governmental policy can indeed have an impact on the timing of the Boom-Bust Cycle. But the Cycle itself abides. You seem to have made common mistake of confusing the behavior of the US stockmarket with the real economy. Trump boasts of the “V-shaped recovery” he has brilliantly conjured. Really? Where is the “boom” for the many millions of American workers who are on the scrap heap right now, thanks to the pandemic?? As for the stockmarket, it’s a disaster waiting to happen. Every bubble finds a pin to pop it eventually. The National Debt, as you correctly point out, is another disaster, the giant elephant in the corner that conveniently isn’t seen. Occasionally, Congress makes a little squeak of alarm, then turns around and gives the Pentagon more money than requested! Just like the infrastructure situation, all talk no action.

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          6. Recessions are normal the bubbles that lead to market meltdowns known as the Boom- Bust cycle; are far worse then naturally occurring recessions and are always artificially created.

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          7. Well, yeah. A stockmarket bubble results when investors’ “animal spirits” become grossly detached from the reality of companies’ potential future earnings. Once the bubble gets going, more folks pile in for “fear of missing out” on making the big killing that will land them on Easy Street for the rest of their lives. This was true of the Dutch Tulip Craze, John Law’s Mississippi Bubble and a similar affair in the South Pacific. Financial markets are much more ruled by the rollercoaster of human emotion than by rational analysis. In the crisis of 2008/2009, the Fed acted as a backstop yet again and prevented the genuine excess from being squeezed out of stock prices. And they’re doing that again currently, to an unprecedented extent (purchasing corporate bonds, for God’s sake! And probably equities, without admitting it, wink-wink!). All of which just guarantees that when the bubble pops it’s gonna get really, really ugly. You see, for a guy with almost no money, I do study these matters a lot!

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          8. Yes — the lowering of corporate taxes is supposed to lead to investment and job creation in the USA. A noble concept. Instead, companies buy back their own stock, raising the price (and dividends) for their chief investors. And since CEOs and other high-level types are often reimbursed in stock options, they’re raising their own pay and benefits as well.

            A rising tide doesn’t lift all boats equally, sadly. Not when the “tide” is driven by tax cuts for the richest.

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          9. If it were up to me I’d drop the Corporate Tax rate to 0 while increasing taxes on the bonuses Upper and Middle management receive to 90% to claw back the money spent on Welfare, Food Stamps and Medicare. I’d also peg the minimum wage to the productivity index and the bonuses given to middle and upper management including CEO’s.

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          10. As my father taught me decades ago: Corporations don’t pay taxes, the end consumer picks up that tab, as it’s built into the price of a product.

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          11. The problem is that the largest corporations pay millions of dollars to accountants and tax lawyers to take advantage of tax loopholes. So that they pay little to no taxes whatsoever while the smaller business end up paying higher taxes because they can’t afford high priced accountants.

            That’s why I would lower the fed top tax rate to 0. Even then those corporations wouldn’t lower prices as a result of saving millions of dollars because they would shift that savings into the bonuses for upper and middle management. Which is why I would target those bonuses with a 90% tax rate.

            Those corporations operating off shore factories would either bring those jobs back to the USA or face very High Tariffs designed to protect American businesses.

            In other words I’d create a very friendly climate for businesses operating in the United States; but, a very hostile environment for those American corporations importing products produced by Slave labor, child labor and sweat shops in foreign nations.

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          12. As so often happens (it’s simply amazing, I must say!), there was noise made early on Trump’s watch about cracking down on corporations stashing their cash in the Cayman Islands, etc., but where was the action? Naturally, David Green, your proposal would be squashed by Congress, faithfully serving their masters, those very corporate executives whose income you propose to tax severely. This is why I say The System is hopelessly broken and needs to be toppled. But that, too, is a pipe dream. It will topple of its own accord eventually, but today’s American is not ready to launch an actual revolution.

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          13. Oh there are those here in America ready to launch a revolution – they spent the summer rioting and looting.

            The question is are conservatives willing to confront and stop them?

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          14. Oh, that’s “rich”!! Leftists in this country are vastly outgunned by the Fascists, and the working class is in no way prepared to launch a revolution!!

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          15. The answer there is a resounding “No!” because the rioters and looters are the tools of the conservatives/GOP. They’re willing to let the country burn as long as their privileged enclaves remain intact.

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      1. The Shovel Ready Program was supposed to jump start the economy (that the Wall Street shenanigans brought down in 2008) by repairing, rebuilding and restoring our nations crumbling infrastructure.

        When the feminists got wind of it they went crying, wailing and gnashing their teeth to the white house demanding that the money be spent on women instead of the construction jobs needed to jump start the economy.

        Hence the Feminists and the Republicans (who reinstituted their boom and bust cycle with their economic policies during the Bush administration) are the reason our infrastructure is still crumbling to this day.

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          1. A reality-based alternative explanation would be that both Mr. Obama and Mr. Trump were making cheap political hay with their talk of dealing with our crumbling infrastructure. Obama was too busy helping his sponsors in the Health Insurance Industry, Trump is just basically full of crap and can’t even focus on one subject for more than a few minutes. Throw in the apparent human tendency to ignore festering problems until they become impossible to ignore–no better example than the Global Climate Catastrophe!–and the future looks pretty grim. Next time an interstate-crossing bridge, or a tunnel, collapses, the airwaves will be full of talk about “We’ve got to take action! Now!” For about 72 hours, that is, then the issue will return to the back burner.

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  7. David Green–You fancy yourself Independently Minded, but you a.) swallow most of the rightwing hokum; and b.) you are delusional if you think demagogue Trump was ever serious about “taking back” the manufacturing jobs American bosses shipped to China in past few decades. Pray tell us exactly how many of these jobs has Trump returned to US soil in the past nearly-four years of his incumbency?

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  8. I am rather aghast at the absence in these comments of the name Rupert Murdoch!! That bloody Aussie is responsible for the theft of the 2000 election in Florida; does anyone not recall that Al Gore’s victory celebration was getting underway when Fox “News” blew a whistle and screamed “Wait a minute! This thing ain’t over yet!”?? [Not to be taken as adoration of Mr. Gore, thank you!] It shouldn’t even be necessary to mention that Fox “News” is now essentially Trump TV, an unprecedented arrangement in history of our politics/media. Millions of our fellow citizens accept whatever Fox/Murdoch present as “facts,” as “truth,” regardless of little matters like reality. CNN became “the anti-Trump” after that organization was singled out for attack by name by Trump on the 2016 campaign trail and then early in his presidency. The NY Times got their hands on some of Trump’s secret tax information and published it, in the style of The Pentagon Papers. They’ll probably face prosecution by Mr. Barr before he departs office. The Times has been attacked by the right as being “super-liberal” since the Nixon years. You see, there are rival factions within the US Ruling Class, and the cracks in their pro-Capital wall of solidarity sometimes appear publicly. (Listen to the cab driver played by Mel Gibson in the movie “Conspiracy Theory”! He understood!) They are united in the insane notion of “American Exceptionalism,” but they don’t necessarily agree that this or that foreign country should be obliterated militarily, or via economic sanctions, at a given time. Just for a quick example of the basic solidarity, the “super-liberal” NY Times is very enthusiastic for the overthrow of Mr. Maduro in Venezuela. I imagine the far right still despises NPR as “super-liberal,” even though the Koch Brothers have largely bought that organization. NPR was never a real “alternative” news source, they just made something of an effort to actually present balanced reporting! The horror!

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  9. Having worked in the media world, I’ve developed some ideas about the press. First, by their very nature, ALL media outlets are biased. This bias is due to finite resources and finite real estate; that is, the room to print or post online, or the broadcast time available. Therefore, certain unwritten rules evolved, such as the famous, “If it bleeds, it leads.” With a folio of X number of pages per issue or X minutes on air, newspapers/magazines and news broadcasts simply cannot publish/show all the news, whether local or national. The choice of which stories to run with and which to ignore, then, by definition, involves bias. Publishers and/or desk editors quite naturally choose items which they believe will appeal to the largest number of readers/viewers. “Know your audience,” is the most important maxim. Coverage of a train derailment is going to crowd out notes from last week’s PTA meeting every time.

    The slant of the coverage is then controlled by the inclinations/beliefs/interests of the paper’s management. Was the train derailment due to the engineer’s carelessness, or was it the result of insufficient maintenance of the track, or failed signals? All of those conditions could have existed, but the decision as to which one receives focus is at the discretion of the powers-that-be at the newspaper or TV station. Those powers-that-be, in turn, can be influenced by advertising dollars and the local/controlling political milieu.

    Once upon a time, the evening news wasn’t supposed to be a money maker. That has changed, so that broadcasts must now be profitable, along with print and online outlets. The technical industrial magazine I worked on tried to sustain an ad-to-editorial ration of under 50%, meaning that the majority of column inches was devoted to articles and specialized information, not advertising. Advertisers knew that, and still wanted to reach the engineers, machinists, and industrial designers who were the magazine’s audience. Conversely, at the business journal where I was employed, which published news about local companies in general, it was perfectly acceptable to run more ads than useful information. Even then, the profit margin was very thin.

    All this to say that the type of publication determines its content, but because the media paradigm is becoming ever more dominated by a profit mandate, the press is certainly not “free” anymore, in any sense.

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    1. Clearly we have to “credit” Rupert Murdoch as an absolute master of “knowing what his audience wants.” Witness the “evolution” (Darwin just groaned in his grave) of Mr. Tucker Carlson from being a “reasonable conservative” to one of the foulest racist ranters on the airwaves.

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    2. Another aspect of this is why students today major in journalism. According to a friend in that world, they want to be celebrities themselves, which is best achieved by being subservient to those in power.

      Journalists used to be outcasts and misfits, so to speak. Their highest goal was truth-telling. Now it seems it’s just infotainment, just another lucrative career, assuming you play your cards right and keep the “right” people happy.

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      1. What you’re saying about the ambitions of those going into broadcast journalism may very well be accurate. Brings to mind Henley’s “bubble-headed bleached blonde.”

        My experience with journalists has been in the realm of industry magazines and news journals, which, of course, are vastly different animals from their broadcast cousins, albeit with the same stated goal of informing. The young people I met in the print world tended to specialize in an area of coverage, such as education, healthcare, or a given industry, and were motivated by curiosity and a desire to know what was next, along with love of the subject matter. They were looking only for a decent paycheck, because fame in that world is exceedingly rare.

        All that said, media organizations as a whole are sensitive to advertisers’ wants and concerns, naturally. And organizations such as that owned by the Murdochs exist solely for propaganda purposes, which means they’re NOT engaging in actual journalism.

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        1. Ratings, ratings, ratings. That’s what advertisers are concerned with. I guess Fox “News” must have very high ratings, gained by peddling the most preposterous rightwing drivel imaginable. As I’ve been saying all along, there was an audience for this, and for Trump, already in place when The Donald decided to launch his campaign in 2015. Such is the state of our society today.

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          1. Right you are, Greg. Higher ratings = more views by an audience = more face-time for commercials. Same goes for print reads and online clicks. Fox has a winning formula for generating those results. They bet on a very low common denominator in this country, and it has paid off spectacularly.

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      2. And if you want to be on the air on Fox “News,” you better have really attractive legs. See recent movie “Bombshell,” about the Meghan Kelly affair at that network. Interestingly, as the story was told in that movie at least, Roger Ailes (brilliantly played by John Lithgow) despised Rupert Murdoch (played by Malcolm McDowell)!! But clearly they agreed on the “need” to steal the 2000 election on behalf of the Neo-Con Cabal.

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  10. Clearly. And with the methods of tracking every digital click, knowing what an audience wants becomes easier to discern all the time. It’s scary how much information can be gathered. My former company signed up with a research firm that could tell my bosses how many of our readers used ABC Bank, for instance. Such data could then be used, of course, for advertising pitches. “Hey, XYZ Bank, wouldn’t you like to get the same share of our readership as ABC Bank does?” Frightening.

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    1. “The Federalist Papers” were originally published in various leading newspapers to encourage open discussion of how the young republic should be constructed and ruled. Doubtless a large percentage of the general population were neither literate nor educated enough to fully grasp their content. So we were subject to the will of the elites from the outset! But at least it was an honest, open debate about very important matters, including war and peace and other matters we today call foreign policy. As the decades went by, there were publications beholden to this or that political party and the economic interests they represented, but I don’t think anyone would have dreamed of a relationship like that of Trump with Fox “News.” In today’s environment, it would be a fantasy to think a genuinely independent (pro-actual-democracy, what a concept!) media operation could be launched that would gain a self-sustaining audience. Someone like Mr. Bloomberg could afford to launch such a thing, but again, could it build an audience?

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      1. I think that, yes, it could build an audience, because there is a subset who still value actual news and rational discussion. Would it ever be self-sustaining? Doubtful. The marketing plan would have to be daring, innovative, and global. And Mr. Bloomberg would have to be willing to support the effort for the long term. As in, for years, until the thing caught on among aficionados.

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        1. I just took Bloomberg for an example. I doubt he has the personal inclination. Though, of course, he already owns something of a media empire, focussed on the financial markets.

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          1. Agree about Bloomberg and realize he was an example. But actually, if he were as devoted to the public interest as his recent presidential candidacy would suggest [cue the laugh track], he would undertake such a news outlet as you suggest. I know that his financially oriented offerings are well respected; whether or not they’re free of political bias, I have no idea, as I don’t follow them. For all I know, they could be as conservative and anal-retentive as WSJ.

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          2. I may be off on this, just a factoid I feel like I picked up somewhere, but I think the price for having a “Bloomberg monitor” on one’s trading desk is about $5000 per WEEK. Streaming proprietary info and views, is what those “boxes” do.

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          3. Ingenious way to create a revenue stream, then. OTOH, they had to build the confidence in their brand to charge that sum, and they have to continue to deliver. A flat $5000-per-week expense is going to be one of the first things to go if a business is making cuts, unless it’s damn well worth it.

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          4. Price of a Bloomberg monitor could be researched, but whether it’s $5K a week or “only” $5K per month, this is chickenfeed for the finance industry big boys like G-Sachs, Morgan Stanley, etc. And all written off as legit business expenditures, naturally.

            Liked by 1 person

    2. rs, read the linked opinion piece by Hughes and Blotcky. I’ve read several other such articles that outline the Orange Menace’s psychopathology, written by eminently-qualified clinicians. I personally have no doubt that they’re correct. However, publishing a headline that flat-out says the Occupant is a mentally ill narcissist who’s incompetent to govern….that’s a whole ‘nother matter. Absent a thorough, one-on-one examination by someone board-certified to make a judgment, such an assertion would bring immediate libel charges. No media vehicle would want to face that storm of legal backlash. And as we’re talking about responsible journalism, making such an accusation without ironclad proof would, in fact, be completely irresponsible, no matter how bizarre CheetoHead’s actions are. As an attorney once said to me, “What you know and what you can prove are two different things.” I believe the same sentiment has been echoed on any number of TV shows and in movies.

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      1. I don’t care for lawyers in general, and libel laws or no, I have been stating for many months now that Trump is MENTALLY DERANGED. I don’t need no stinkin’ degree, just my own eyes and ears.

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        1. I’m not arguing that the Occupant is mentally stable. Neither am I a fan of lawyers. But the fact remains that printing a headline without objective proof is irresponsible and paves the way for sustainable libel suits, which no media organization would risk. To get such proof, I believe the only recourse would be for the Cabinet and Congress to open a 25th amendment hearing, and we all know how likely THAT is.

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  11. Someone like Mr. Bloomberg could afford to launch such a thing, but again, could it build an audience?
    Sadly, in these times, fake news spreads faster than truth on social media ( which have taken over the function of “providing information”!! ) and ideologues threaten physical harm to those they do not agree with…. so not likely.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Yes. And Mark Twain said it so well: “A lie can travel halfway around the world before truth can get out of bed.” And now, of course, the lies travel essentially at the speed of light!

      Liked by 1 person

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