In today’s American politics the media has become a major target for every politician who doesn’t like what the media is reporting about them. And while the media does say a lot of things about a lot of people many lose sight of that being exactly what the Founding Fathers wanted to happen. That’s why they established the almost unabridged right of the media to do what it does best, be critical of politicians and government.
You’ve probably heard that, “power corrupts and total power corrupts totally.” It’s one of the basic truths about government and our founders knew that preventing total power was imperative. The Constitution establishes three competing branches of government along with a system of “checks and balances” to help limit power of each branch. Our free press has been called the fourth branch of government and given the role of being a set of eyes that exist outside of government and having the freedom to report on what government is up to.
Regardless of how the candidate and his loyalists try to spin it, yesterday Donald Trump broke yet another moral, ethical, civil, and possibly criminal taboo, he suggested the “Second Amendment people” may have to take Hillary’s future in their own hand. This isn’t the first time someone on the fringe has suggested, “Second Amendment” solutions to rid the nation of those they don’t agree with. But it is the first for someone running for the presidency.
This morning I came across a Facebook post by long-time journalists Dan Rather on the significance of Trump’s suggestion that violence may be the only way to stop Hillary. Here are Rather’s words.
For a several years I’ve used Snopes.com and FactCheck.org as my go to sources of getting at the truth of all that smells bad on the Internet.
Recently a friend posted a meme containing a supposed statement by former presidential candidate Michelle Bachmann. Supposedly Bachmann said that the dinosaur bones found in museums weren’t real because they weren’t dirty. She also claimed they weren’t real because they were wired together and that real animal don’t need wire to hold their bones in place.
As much as I wanted to learn that she had really said that it wasn’t to be. I did a quick check on Snopes and learned the claim was totally bogus. The next day someone posted that they no longer trusted Snopes because it had been indicted on fraud charges. Once again I detected a foul aroma so I ran that through a couple of fact checkers and as I suspected, it resulted from a bogus email that made the rounds on the pipes of the Internet.
They say that one’s senses weaken as they ages. In my case I’m less able to smell my own farts. Funny thing, however, I can still smell the farts of others.
You either have to be my age or have paid attention in your history classes to know how Senator Joe McCarthy pulled numbers out of his hat regarding the communist threat inside America. He never showed anyone his proof and the size of the threat changed with every audience he addressed. On one day he might claim having a list of 100 names of government employees who were card-carrying members of the communist party. On another occasion the list may be 27. It was totally manufactured and it has been rumored that in the beginning McCarthy didn’t even know what communism was. He just realized it was something people feared and that he could use that fear to further his own ambitions.
FACTOID: By the end of the 2012 election it was clear that a brother couldn’t catch a break. By that time at least 89 Obama bashing books had found their way to the shelves of the nation’s book stores. Obviously there’s money in unmerciful criticism but some historians argue that what Obama has faced was also faced by founding fathers George Washington and Thomas Jefferson.
While I write a blog I can make no claim to being a journalist. I can, however, be critical of professional journalist for what the choose to be news and for their motivations. In this century much that claims to be journalism misses the mark for one important reason, It fails meeting a standard set by Walter Lippmann in the late 1800s, “There can be no higher law in journalism than to tell the truth and to shame the devil.”
While many excel at shaming there is too often little truth that goes into defining who the devil is or in discerning what is true. I recently heard a broadcast journalist say the cable news channels drive the news today and they are less interested in telling the truth than in building an audience. Democracy relies on an informed citizenry and in the days of Edward R. Morrow it was a journalist’s job keep the voter informed by filtering out that which was merely sensational from that which was necessary to be informed. In today’s 24/7 world of cable news the emphasis is on reporting the sensational in order to build the audience. Roger Ailes, the head of Fox News, has proudly made clear that Fox is not in the news business, it’s in the ratings business.
While Fox News is not alone, it is the master of choosing the devil and then making up whatever truth is needed to shame.
By the magic of Netflix I’ve been watching lots of foreign TV, mostly British. While I still have problems with colloquial verbiage and accents I’m getting better. For example, I now know that to nick in England is to steal and the local police station is also called the nick. Even so I find it imperative to turn on closed captioning to get me over the frequent humps. I’ve also watched a number of programs filmed in a language other than English but with English subtitles.
For the most part I’m doing okay with the dialects and accents of the British Isles and keeping up with reading the subtitles of Scandinavian languages. The Swedes and Danes speak slow enough that I can read the subtitles and still keep up with the on-screen action.
Where I’ve had the most difficulty and given up was a TV series from France and a PBS production of Shakespeare’s Henry IV. While I love hearing the French language the pace is simply too fast for be to read the subtitles and stay with the visual happenings. I’m so busy reading subtitles I don’t have time to even learn the faces of the characters. I’ve not attempted anything in Spanish which I’m pretty sure would be even faster.
I’ve been getting what little cable news fix I need from Al Jazeera America for several weeks now. Except that it is not televised in High Definition I am loving it. It is everything that CNN use to be, straight news, international coverage, minimum of talking head pundits, and occasional in-depth segments focused on a single subject.
I have been especially attentive to bias and haven’t found any. It may be owned by a Mid-East Islamic government but I haven’t detected any bias in that direction. I doubt there can be a totally unbiased source of information but Al Jazeera gets pretty close.
For years I’ve known what Al Jazerra is but have never seen one of its broadcast other than clips shown on other networks. In the morning headlines I came across an editorial piece about a woman’s Tea Party mother who has taken to watching the new Al Jazerra news network and likes it above most others. I read the story and it harkened back to the days when CNN and HLN actually reported the news and were worth subscribing to cable service to get. Currently we get our TV via satellite and don’t know if our provider is carrying the Al Jazerra channel. But as soon as I hit the publish button for this piece I’m grabbin’ the remote and going surfing.
If you are as fed up with cable news as I am and wish death to all pundits, you need to read this story. Click HERE.
The early days of HLN and CNN were wonderful. HLN gave us a recap of the headlines every half-hour while CNN provided more in-depth coverage and special features. Unlike today, these sources actually reported the news. What they’ve morphed into, however, is possibly the most derisive force in modern history. Today, cable news exposes us to 24/7/365 assaults on our emotions that does little but divide us even more. One of my former students recently wrote, “Sherman’s only mistake was not burning down CNN as he went through Atlanta.” Well, add MSNBC and FOX to the list and give it a big AMEN!
On Mother’s Day one or more thugs opened fire on a street parade in New Orleans, spraying the crowd with bullets, and wounding at least 17 people. I don’t recall it being a story on the Nightly News or receiving any major news coverage. Most of what I know has come from incidental headlines found on the Internet. Why the outrage over Newtown, CT or Aurora, CO but almost nothing above a whisper when 17 innocent people are the victims of gun violence in NOLA? Makes me wonder if race is playing a part.
When president Obama won the election in 2008 gun sales in America soared. When re-elected in 2012 sales shot up again. It seems like the paranoid gun crowd just can’t get a grip on reality after the election of the nation’s first African-American, Muslim, Godless, communist, socialist, Fascist, foreign-born, unpatriotic, white people hating president.
I don’t know when or where it began but for sometime now the heavily armed paranoid crowd has been ranting about how the US government is buying up all the ammunition preparatory to carrying out its plan for a left-wing liberal dictatorship that will declare the end of 2nd Amendment rights and enslave, “We the People.” Continue reading Yet another bullshit conspiracy theory→