At the age of four, I became a news junkie. My first indoctrination was the Watergate hearings, which were on in place of my mother’s CBS soap operas. I listened to Walter Cronkite and Robert MacNeil when they explained the Senate Committee’s findings. Dan Rather and Tom Brokaw earned their stripes, as network correspondents. I watched Sam Ervin and Howard Baker and Fred Thompson, and I was hooked.
The mainstream media networks were trustworthy. Long before the cable news networks, ABC, CBS, NBC and PBS investigated, reported, and ensured the public got the news they were entitled to hear. Most importantly, they kept the government honest.
Uncle Walter would never steer me wrong.
In high school journalism, my teacher drilled home three important lessons: Triple source your stories, be objective and do not create the news. These lessons for reporting seemed self-explanatory, but over the years, the mainstream media has continued to change the rules, writing the stories before they happen. The New York Times has long since given up the grey ghost of sourcing, CNN moved into advocacy journalism during the 2008 presidential campaign, and it is obvious that the rest of the mainstream media is following the trend of yellow journalism.
Americans see President Obama openly fight Fox News, despite its overwhelming popularity as a cable news network. They hear that only the mainstream media speaks the truth, in an objective manner. The President insists voters cannot think clearly, when they are frightened. Jon Stewart has determined that more sanity, and less Glenn Beck, is required. The mainstream media elite, seeing that Americans are heading in the wrong direction, are hell-bent on changing the course.
Today’s mid-term elections have unleashed a torrent of unprecedented nastiness, from the misogynistic attempts to tear down Christine O’Donnell and Meg Whitman, to the appallingly negative ads of Jack Conway and Alan Grayson. Journalists, rather than report the news, have inserted themselves into the fray.
In Alaska, Senate candidate Joe Miller is fighting his political opponents, and the local CBS affiliate station, KTVA. In an incredible turn of events, the news director inadvertently left a voice message on Miller’s spokesperson, Randy Desoto’s voicemail. The message consists of reporters laughingly plotting how to make Miller’s rally more entertaining. The “reporters’” suggestions are not the traditional journalistic strategies, no; the strategy in that newsroom is to create a more interesting news cycle. Can a child molester be located, within Miller’s supporters? Of course! Can Miller get punched, and a quick tweet manufactured? Naturally! That’s a good one!