THE UNHEALTHY COUNTRY
By Harry Freedman
Compared to the rest of the civilized world, America is extremely unhealthy. Far too many of us are overweight, out of shape and eat too much junk food. And even though we know what we take in our bodies has a direct affect on how we feel and how long we will live, we still find it difficult to stop. There are too many bad choices in the supermarket, too many fast food joints, and not enough time to prepare food that is healthy. Or so we tell ourselves.
Unfortunately, we ingest our news in much the same manner.
There are too many bad choices and not enough time to dig down enough to learn the difference between truth and fiction. So many of us now believe that fake news is real and real news is fake.
So let’s take a little look at our media diet.
The most universal attack on the media is that it’s liberal. And, truth be told, I would agree that more reporters are inwardly liberal then not. Why? Well, they are out in the field seeing the problems of our nation first hand. They see the kids being separated from their parents and the madness in our leadership.
But most good reporters have gone through journalism school and despite their personal feelings; they still try to report objectively. Many reporters also work for TV networks owned by billionaire corporations who care more about profits then the news.
So CNN covered Trumps’ candidacy like it was the second coming, so Trump got billions of dollars in free coverage and the networks got millions in ad revenue from increased ratings. CNN also puts together panels of talking heads that include virtually every political persuasion, regardless of past track record to attract the maximum number of viewers.
In that sense they’re very much like USA Today, which will post an editorial in favor of preventing man-made global warming, right next to a column from an oil executive arguing that global warming is caused by natural cycles of the sun.
They put them both up as if they are equal. But one is a scientifically based editorial about a problem guaranteed to have a catastrophic impact on our kids and grandkids lives, while the other is an industry sponsored propaganda piece designed to confuse low information readers. And sadly, USA Today is easy reading for low information readers. Too easy.
Because real news wasn’t always designed to be easy. In the early days of TV, news was understood to be a financial loss leader so Walter Cronkite didn’t have to worry about ratings. He only had to worry about getting to the very crux of an issue, no matter how long it took or how much it cost.
Today, the news, like almost everything else in our society is about profits. So the news mostly covers the short-term superficial symptomology of our society’s ills like murder, drugs, and gang violence. It covers elections as if they were sporting events and the Kardashians as if they are royalty. It does not do nearly as good a job at covering the actual underlying problems or long-term solutions.
But as bad as it is, there has never been any actual proof that it is fake. There has never been any proof that it creates BS out of thin air or makes up nonexistent facts.
Many years ago, when I wrote for a weekly newsmagazine in Miami Beach I saw first hand that the publisher, and not the reporters, controls all the content. So even if a reporter or columnist has their own independent viewpoint on something, the publisher/owner is always the final arbiter of what makes the paper.
Which brings us to Fox News and Rupert Murdoch.
Fox news changed the landscape, as did the NY Post. The New York Post took the tabloid style of the National Enquirer but pretended to cover real news, but with a consistent slant aimed at stirring up prejudice, bigotry, and anger, all the while glorifying big business, while taking snarky aim at liberal (“well-educated”) elites.
Fox revolutionized TV news by turning it into soap opera with winners and losers and heroes and villains. The heroes of course, are always the common sense working man, while the villains are usually the overly intellectual liberal know-it-alls who will never understand the common sense working man. All the while, Fox has consistently supported policies that hurt the working guy and help the billionaires and other then Shephard Smith, they are all pretty much completely in lockstep.
They are also replaceable. When Bill O’Reilly got kicked out after years of sexual harassment payoffs, frat poster boy Tucker Carlson took his spot without missing a beat in the ratings.
Fox news has changed reality for an enormous number of Americans. They chipped away at the legitimacy and credibility of the “mainstream media.” And they’ve done a great job of weakening truth because they are experts at diversion, innuendo, deflection, and simple outright lying.
They are also very entertaining. They have created deliciously spicy junk food news, with the perfect amount of snark, slander and emotional additives to put McDonalds’ French Fries to shame for merely having only salt and emulsifiers to make them more addicting.
So over the years, they supported W invading Iraq. They are against civil rights, women’s rights, clean air, clean water, and even safe food. They are all for corporations being allowed to donate unlimited money to election campaigns and against those same corporations being asked to pay a living wage. They are against health insurance for regular people and they favor trillion dollar governmental deficits for billionaires, but scream about any money for social programs including for the first time, Medicare and social security.
The biggest argument made by conservatives or those few left in the middle is that all the news outlets are the same. FOX is to the right and MSNBC is to the left and CNN is slightly to the left. But Fox will in fact promote stories that aren’t true or focus on others to divert your attention from the real stories that they don’t want you to see.
There is plenty to dislike in the mainstream media but to the best of my knowledge, CNN, MSNBC, The New York Times, and The Washington Post have never deliberately posted fake news. They may have strong editorial opinions but whether you agree with them or not, they come from the basis of facts.
They mainstream media is being attacked by a President, who if not in direct collusion with Russia himself, is certainly in collusion with Fox, which is nothing more then a weaponized propaganda machine designed to confuse us and wear us down on making any effort to search for the actual truth. Whatever else you think of the mainstream media, they are one of the last bastions between us and dictatorship.
242 years of Democracy is on the line. When you vote this November, vote carefully. Peter King thought that our Nato allies need to be knocked around once in a while and that President Trump’s actions on Russia were “perfect.” Lee Zeldin has never met a Trump policy he didn’t love.
Our local Republicans are the feeder system into what is happening nationally. Don’t let Rupert Murdoch make your decisions for you. He is a billionaire who prays on prejudice and class anger and he does it to convince you that poor people and minorities and “well educated” elites are your problem, rather then an Australian billionaire who pulls your strings through his puppets at Fox News, The NY Post and The Wall Street Journal.