The Horse Race, The Media and Malaise


One U.S. cable network  claims to have  “the best political team in the business,” another  says it’s  “the place for politics,” and yet another calls itself “fair and balanced,” when in fact, it’s the official mouthpiece of the Republicon Party.   Conservatives chronically gripe about “liberal media bias,” the “liberal media elite,” yet their “News” outlet of choice is far and away the most slanted, the most biased of any of the cable bigs.  But since their SLOGAN says it reports…we decide,  since they CLAIM to be “fair and balanced,” it MUST be true.  After all, it’s on TV.

While ideologically different and at times, polar opposites, there is common ground among cable news operations.  I still can’t park my remote at any for extended periods because they all suffer the same malaise, just in different ways.  And Fox is so extreme that it seems a sick skit.

What they have in common is a constant quest for ratings that drives their shared penchant for rooting out the most superficial aspects of a story, sensationalizing those, then submitting them in reports that pander to the voyeuristic “train wreck fascination” that pervades our pedestrian public.   Somewhere along the way, market researchers convinced all of them that Americans have an unquenchable thirst for politics–but to put on finer point on that,  for political competition and sordid stories.

Why differentiate?  Governance is forged by politics.  The activities, performance, ideas, ideals, problems that face us and the policies devised to address them, all of which culminate in our alleged democratic system are inextricably linked to and riddled with politics.

Yet the public has little interest in or patience for issue-related reporting on the machinations of sustaining a democratic republic. We like the horse race… the endless mud, the insults, slogans, sound bites, consultants, posturing, odd bedfellows, lies, scandals, betrayal, broken promises, dashed dreams, imperfections, polls and the winning. Everyone wants to win. When they do, the next day, they’re working on how best to win again. The press has downsized–eliminating what used to be a costly network of foreign bureaus. As a result, real news is much to come by.  We see crimes, crises, disasters, war, sex, but often miss genocide and ethnic cleansing, (unless they in some way play into our market-driven economy).

In the last presidential election, candidates started running TWO YEARS ahead of the event.  The press has been speculating on who will run in 2012 since even before Obama became president.  Why must we do this?  In doing so, we miss information on current events that are literally changing our world.

I’m no fan of mass media.  I once respected it. It had credibility.  It tried to get it right. Today, right doesn’t seem to matter, only “first”.  Get there first with a story–even if it’s totally erronious. Don’t find credible sources. Use “Some people say,” like Fox News does, to impose your own slant, without pinning it on you. A lie repeated is a lie remembered and fewer Americans question the info we receive.  Eventually, lies win out over truth, even if refuted–simply because they’re repeated like mantras.

I’ve always produced videos. Early in my career I’d get into playful arguments with friends who wrote for print about how they couldn’t compete with motion media.  I’d say the only advantage print has over TV is that you can wrap fish in newspaper.  Little did I suspect that such what seemed to be such an absurd statement would ring true in my lifetime.  Newspapers are dying. Real reporting, for the most part, is in grave jeopardy–the public doesn’t seem to want the truth. Instead, they want conflict, public shame, blood n guts.    I’m going to miss newspapers.  And I can’t even feel good about TV’s dominance over print because it purveys pure shit.

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