I was taught and practiced ethical journalism. For 11 years with an Internet pulpit, I have made ethical journalism my number one concern.
Surely, dear reader, there is no reason to explain, after millions of words on the state of journalism today, how media which have fallen into prostitution can harm democracy.
After a long and distinguished journalism career. a white-haired editor friend told me, “Journalism is a whore riding a black horse.” The black horse being printer’s ink. How prescient he was!
Comes John Cory of Reader Supported News with a perspective on journalism today so plain and simple I post it here for my readers’ delight. Permission to republish is “freely granted.”
Running on Bullshit
By John Cory
Reader Supported News
25 July 2010
In the 1976 film “Network,” Howard Beale explains why on the previous evening's broadcast he had announced that he would commit public suicide on the air: "Well, I'll tell you what happened: I just ran out of bullshit ... So I don't have any bullshit left, just ran out of it, you see."
That is not a concern for what passes as our modern media because bullshit comes with a golden microphone and silver-framed teleprompter. Bring your own pooper-scooper.
The media narrative of the Shirley Sherrod event began with, "racist discovered at NAACP," then promptly shifted to, "oops, my bad," and then to, "what's wrong with this White House and why is the President afraid of FOX?"
On Wednesday's ABC Nightline Cynthia McFadden introduced a segment about the kerfuffle Andrew Breitbart had stirred up. Kerfuffle? That sounds so harmless.
The NY Times ran an editorial that began: "The Obama Administration has been shamed by its rush to judgment," and ended by noting that this time, Glenn Beck was right.
Howard Kurtz gave cover to FOX and Breitbart by glossing over the whole incident and ending with, "Still, one fact is indisputable. It was Vilsack, not Breitbart, who kicked Sherrod out of her job."
Rachel Maddow on MSNBC chided the White House for continually falling for these FOX News stunts, and Keith Olbermann interrupted his vacation for a Special Comment on the whole Sherrod affair and lectured Obama about standing up to the right-wing FOX noise machine.
Let's be blunt here, the media is not interested in journalism or news or context or factual reportage; it is interested in what sells - and that my friends, is bullshit.
CNN is a slogan generating "news" organization. "Keeping them honest" is the term most often used while uttering the phrase "both sides do it," as protection against accusations of being part of the "liberal media."
MSNBC has positioned itself as the anti-FOX with its so-called "liberal/progressive" evening lineup that punches back at the propaganda of FOX. It is Keith versus Bill-O and Rachel versus Hannity or whomever she can snark and giggle at. It is the World Wrestling Federation of "I know I am but what are you!"
In other words - bullshit. Lethal repugnant odious, but oh so shiny bullshit.
It is time to re-read Gene Lyons' "Fools For Scandal: How the Media Invented Whitewater." It is time to remind ourselves that the NY Times and Washington Post were cheerleaders for war with Iraq and Afghanistan. The networks quivered in near orgasm over the chance to embed with troops and roll across the desert in glorious full battle-rattle. The "media" attacked Michael Hastings over his reporting on Gen. McChrystal and whined about the need for friendly access to the military, and at the same time complained that BP restricted their ability to cover the Gulf oil disaster. BP was being mean!
The truth is, had BP oil been used as a lubricant for a celebrity sex scandal, the media would have broken through the security lines and rushed the bedroom for photographs. But of course, the oil was only used to lubricate the screwing of America, so nothing to see here - move along.
Our "media news" outlets are nothing more than carnival barkers and hucksters. They are the last real manufacturer left in this country. They manufacture sensationalistic fear while selling conformity to the great, unwashed American consumer. They sell tribalism and all the products that go with it.
In other words - bullshit.
The Sherrod affair was never about racism. It was blowback for attacks on the Tea Party - that manufactured coalition of hate and anger supported by conservative corporate largesse - just like that other media creation - Sarah Palin.
All the media did was yell: Fight! Fight! Someone called someone else a racist and then someone else showed that the other someone was a racist, too, and both sides do it so - we're just keeping them honest. See?
Breitbart won the prize his kind desires most - headlines and media profile.
MSNBC and FOX got to punch and blame each other, so that's a win.
The American people lost. They lost an opportunity to have an honest discussion about people and racism, about institutional racism, about the progress and redemption of race in our society. But at least they were entertained for a while. And isn't that what it's all about, really, a little entertainment between job losses and military suicides and the 100 bank failures so far this year and, oh yeah, having to talk about that scary race thing?
One night Howard Beale ran out of bullshit. Howard Beale is a fictional character.
So is our modern media.