I am going to resist the urge to respond to some of the “in the moment” op-eds and letters to the editor that have popped up over the past few weeks.
Sticking to my commitment not “to respond in the heat of the moment,” I will engage in conversations of racism, gun control, individual responsibility and all other “crises,” since by your emails and pokes you are waiting to “hear from” me on these issues. However, these conversations will only happen when we can guide the conversation with a sense of self-control (yours and mine). What I would like to discuss is the media and you, once again.
I used to be a voracious consumer of the news, not so much now. As a child, I was fixated on the evening news and Sunday morning roundtables, fascinated by the intellect, strength of words and passion for “the truth.” I would read any newspaper and current events magazine I could get my hands on, believing I was being taken on an honest journey, with the journalist as my trusted guide. However, all too often the journalist was more like the character Satipo, the guide at the beginning of “Raiders of the Lost Ark.” Instead of throwing me the whip (metaphor alert: the whip in this tale represents the facts), too many journalists simply said “Adiós, señor.”
I took at face value that what was being reported was done so fairly and objectively, and those involved at every level of delivering the news to me did so with clarity and a 360-degree perspective. Life has taught me my youthful belief was based on a false narrative, one glamorized by movies and books that held up the press as tenuous truth seekers, unaffected by anything other than the facts.
The reality is the press never lived up to that expectation and never will. They are human. They have opinions, beliefs and support causes like the rest of us. As such, they are no more noble than any other profession. The professional calling many had when they entered journalism was still rooted in “their perspective” of the world.
I would like to say maybe most in the media just can’t see how biased they are, but I know that is not true. For as much as some in the media accuse President Trump, or for that matter many people with an opposing view, of being blind, deaf or both on the “conversations” we should have as a nation, they are just as guilty of being short-sighted and tone deaf.
The original intent of a free press was to serve as the guard dogs of our constitutional-republic, barking when others can’t see or hear trouble lurking in the shadows. Maybe that is what I used to think, but now the media is nothing more than an annoying dog that barks over and over again. After a while, we tune out, ignoring every bark, including the ones that do alert of real danger.
Most in the media will roll their eyes and dismiss my observations. The media, like the consumers of their products, have nestled themselves comfortably in their own silos. They don’t care what people in the other silos have to say because they know they are right and the people in the other silos are wrong. There you have it, the reason we can’t really have conversations. This isn’t a new development in mankind, this is an age-old issue.
To some I must sound arrogant, but I am not. I am merely someone who used to take at face value what the media told me. It is not fake, but it is told from a perspective tainted by individual beliefs or opinions from the cloistered social groups that far too many of us align with; shaped by the careful selection of words, sentence structure and phrasing that is not false, but nuanced in a way to guide the traveler in a certain direction. How do I know this? Simple, I am in fact a member of the media, but don’t hold that against me. I stumbled upon this endeavor by happenstance.
I am not a conspiracy theorist, nor gullible. For those who think I am just chastising the “left-leaning media,” you are wrong. The whole industry is running amok because the media is an industry. However, I have a hard time “bashing” those who represent the “right-leaning media” in this country, when for decades those who believed they were neutral, but clearly leaned “left,” failed to look at every story objectively. I would be a millionaire if I had a dollar for every time someone in the media said or wrote, “but this is different,” when the facts were almost identical, except for usually one detail – the political beliefs of the “accused.” This is not just my opinion. For as much as the media loves to tout polls that show people distrust politicians, they better look in the mirror. People are losing their faith in the press, even if the press chooses to ignore this, sometimes blaming the audience instead of themselves.
I am ready to have an honest, intellectual, spirited debate on many topics. I just know that on a whole, the press in our country today is neither prepared nor equipped to guide us on that journey.