Thursday, March 12, 2009

The Media’s Vested Interest

I came across two good opinions, published yesterday, that I would like to share regarding main stream journalists. Specifically, who do they work for? The framers of the Constitution put freedom of the press in the first amendment to protect access to the truth. Today, it seems the truth has been compromised by lazy, distraction journalism brought to you by any number of giant corporations with a vested interest in the status quo.

Cenk Uygur discusses the problem of access in his piece titled “The Real Problem with CNBC” Access as in “I didn’t like what you wrote about X topic, so I’m cutting you off.”

I have a close friend who works at a business news station -- and here is the worst kept secret in show business -- it's all about the access. If you piss off the CEOs or the companies, you're going to get a call from your boss. You have jeopardized our relationship with them!

That is very thinly disguised code words for -- don't ever say anything negative about a company we cover otherwise your job is in the trouble. The message is clear -- go along to get along. This isn't journalism. It's public relations by another name.

CNBC never did any exposés about the enormous risks these financial companies took. They never exposed the insanity of the derivatives market. And they never told their audience that the executives of these companies have been robbing their shareholders blind. Because they didn't see that as their job. They saw their job as doing whatever it took to keep Wall Street happy and playing ball with them.

Keep this in mind the next time you hear a story about socialist health care (insurance companies) or global warming myths (energy companies).

The second column comes from Glenn Greenwald at Salon.com titled “The mission of the Beltway journalist.” Greenwald discusses the media as being an obstruction to the truth. He cites Jefferson and compares those thoughts to reporters today.

Thomas Jefferson, in a 1799 letter to Archibald Stewart, wrote: "Our citizens may be deceived for awhile, and have been deceived; but as long as the presses can be protected, we may trust to them for light." And Jefferson later added:

Our first object should therefore be, to leave open to him all the avenues of truth. The most effectual hitherto found, is freedom of the press. It is therefore, the first shut up by those who fear the investigation of their actions.

With some important exceptions, our press corps does exactly the opposite of what Jefferson envisioned. Instead of "trusting to them for light," we have The Post's Richard Cohen demanding that political leaders be permitted to operate -- these were his words -- "with the lights off." And instead of wanting to "shut up the press" due to a "fear of investigations of their actions," political leaders now want to amplify and glorify the press as much as possible, since it's led by the likes of Ruth Marcus, David Ignatius and Stuart Taylor who are singularly devoted to blocking investigations -- not conducting them -- and ensuring that government wrongdoing remains concealed, not exposed. All you have to do is read what they say -- compare it to Jefferson's expectation of what the role of the press would be-- and see how twisted and corrupted our national media is.

The fact is, we are not getting the news and information we deserve from the sources that were once trusted. There is a vested interest to tell the story the way those in power would like it to be told, otherwise, the media would loose their meal ticket in the form of easy stories and big advertising dollars.

Stay smart! Work hard and seek the truth!

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