Why I Despise the Mainstream (American) News Media

TV news reporter sticking a microphone into the bloody face of a first responder at a horrible tragedy in which many people died and were severely injured: “Sir! How did you FEEL when you realized you SON might be missing?” Not the exception but the rule.

Much of a 20 minute (after commercials) national network prime time news cast devoted to a study about “How women really feel about themselves”–at a time when North Korea is saber rattling with threats of nuclear war (among other world shaking events). Not the exception but the rule.

Constant changing of talking heads reading “news stories”–most of them looking like they just stepped off the pages of a fashion magazine. Not the exception but the rule.

Obsession with “missing people” who always turn out to be affluent, young, good-looking females. (See the current issue of JET magazine’s cover story “Missing & Black:Where Is the Outrage?”) Not the exception but the rule.

Total reliance on government sources for news about American military actions. Little criticism of the military except for sex scandals involving generals. Not the exception but the rule.

Interviewing talking heads insisting on sound bytes instead of profound, relevant (even if concise) commentary by scholars and real experts. Constant interruption of guests.  Always coming back to “How do you FEEL about….?” Not the exception but the rule.

Almost total ignoring of the rest of the world unless something affects Americans. Not the exception but the rule.

Treating criminal suspects as guilty until proven innocent (if even then). Then dropping the exonerated “suspects” rather than apologizing to them for ruining their lives. Not the exception but the rule.

Difficult, tangled, messy issues treated with bare headlines and a few relatively unimportant “facts” with little to no depth. Switching immediately from a really important story with world shaking significance to a “human interest story” clearly designed for viewers who otherwise wouldn’t be watching “the news.” Not the exception but the rule.

I could go on and on. The state of American “news media” is abysmal. And what’s worse, we’ve gotten used to it and don’t speak up about it. But, then, many of us deserve it. It’s apparently what we want–to be spoon fed simplistic headlines with no real explanation or investigation of the facts, to be entertained with human interest stories about cat ladies and men who jump into freezing water for “health,” etc., and shown funny clips from youtube, to be left ignorant about the rest of the world except when there’s “footage” of a disaster in some far off place we never heard of and will quickly forget the name of, etc., etc.

Years ago I watched, among other news outlets, CNN, and felt truly informed about world and national events. Then I moved to Europe for a year. When I returned I noticed a dramatic change in American news broadcasting and the change continued and got, in my opinion, worse. Now, it seems, the “news” air waves are filled with fluff and sometimes nonsense. A lot of it seems to me to be thinly disguised advertising (“A new type of facelift that costs less and hurts less!”) The line between infomercials and some network “news” stories is becoming difficult to discern. What justifies a five-to-ten minute segment on a news channel about a forthcoming movie (about which there is nothing really special)?

What has happened to real investigative reporting? I used to count on several very well known hour long “TV magazines” for that. They did a wonderful job of exposing corrupt politicians and businesses (and military waste). Now, for the most part, they are devoted to sensational stories about murdered women (always white, affluent and good-looking), sports heroes (still heroic or falling from their pedestals), and off-beat artists nobody outside of New York cares about.

Now I find myself turning more and more often (when watching TV for news) to BBCA.

Recently I spoke with an acquaintance who is dean of a large Christian university and pastor of an evangelical mega-church. He told me (and others) that he was recently contacted by a major national news television network and asked to provide a three  minute comment on “gay marriage.” He rightly refused. He explained to the reporter that the subject cannot be discussed with any intelligence in three minutes. Needless to say, they didn’t use him.

I believe television news, and, to a somewhat lesser extent but increasingly print news media, is being controlled by advertisers and ratings. There is almost nowhere to turn to hear or read journalism unbiased by concern for “what our advertisers will think” and “how our ratings will be affected.” Public television used to be the exception, but it is increasingly relying on a form of advertising (names of supporters mentioned often with brief commercials) and being controlled by fear of loss of government and private grants.

Is this just a pet peeve of mine? I don’t think so. It illustrates two larger social problems we face–the pervasive influence of money over everything and growing appetite (among Americans) for entertainment to the exclusion of real information. I have written letters to major national, regional and local news outlets about these matters and been brushed off as a crank. One newspaper editor took my complaint about changes on the first page of the newspaper seriously and admitted to me that they were due to the need to sell newspapers. (The change was to huge pictures of children, flowers and animals and articles about local people doing “interesting” and funny things and relegation of real news to inside the newspaper with shorter and more shallow coverage.)

I think we, as a whole society, are becoming sheep. The dumbing down process is moving toward the vanishing point (of knowledge) quickly. Not long ago I watched an old movie called “Idiocracy.” It’s pretty crass, even silly, but prophetic anyway. Recently I attended a high school graduation. Several hundred “commenced” in robes and received something on the stage much to the wild applause and noisy celebration of family and friends in the audience. The problem is that even the program stated that “some” of those commencing were receiving “certificates of attendance” rather than diplomas. Nobody would tell me how many or exactly why. But clearly, whoever they were, their families and friends congratulated them with loud cheers even though they were only receiving a piece of paper acknowledging they met minimum attendance requirements. They will no doubt go out into the world claiming to have “graduated from high school” when, in fact, they did not. This is becoming common practice.

I recommend you watch the movie I mention above–not for entertainment (it’s not very entertaining in my opinion) but for the portrayal (if extreme and unlikely) of a future dystopia (partially already here now) resulting from a radical dumbing down of society, a celebrating of ignorance (“I want a president I can sit down and have a beer with!”) and a general attitude of anti-intellectualism and preference for entertainment over serious information.

  • Bev Mitchell

    Roger, rest assured this is not just your pet peeve. Anyone who wants a more well rounded, honest, balanced, self-critical summary and analysis of the way the world is working uses the internet. This takes work, and involves a lot of separating wheat from chaff, but there is excellent stuff out there. The corporate media have their own masters, agendas and bottom lines, so the results are predictable. Watch them in order to know what they are leaving out and to see what their masters want you to know and think. The parallels with Orwell’s 1984 are legion.

    It would be interesting to know which online sources your readers rely on for their knowledge of world events and analysis thereof. I’ll show you mine……..

    • rogereolson

      Yes, by all means tell which which you rely and why. I have not found what I consider a reliable news source on line. I think (!) I am pretty good at detecting bias and so far all the news sources I have found seem biased. I’m under no illusion that there might be a purely objective one out there; all I’m trying to do is find one (or more) that is relatively objective and not blatantly biased.

      • Bev Mitchell

        First four caveats.

        1. There is no such thing as an unbiased source- every decision maker has an agenda. There are some media decision makers who allow a wider range of opinion than others, but multiple sources will always be required. Same thing for decisions on what ‘raw’ news to report (where to point the camera).

        2. For a world level view of news crucial to the USA, one must go well beyond US sources.

        3. The most efficient way to be informed is to read. TV and radio are generally too limited and slow, given the size of the task. Occasionally there are great special reports. Like the Bill Moyers interview with Glenn Greenwald on PBS released April 26 on the big “Why do they hate us?” question.

        4. Consumers of news are as biased as purveyors, analyzers and commentators. For example, I notice that all the really good commentators largely agree with me. ;)

        With all this in mind, here are the sources I try to at least scan for international level material almost daily.

        Washington Post
        The Guardian UK
        Haaretz (Israeli English language daily)
        Le Monde International
        Anti-War.com (one-stop shopping for stories mainstream media will rarely mention)
        Huffington Post (less often and on the watch list for potential drop).

        Commentators (alphabetical order) who have a good understanding of the big picture and who have a new article up every few days:

        Glenn Greenwald at The Guardian on National Security Issues

        Tom Engelhardt http://www.tomdispatch.com/ (a regular antidote to the mainstream media)

        Pepe Escobar at Asia Times http://atimes.com/ Escobar is a well informed, irreverent commentator on world affairs, particularly Asia and the Middle East. Definitely not unbiased.

        Robert Fisk at the Independent, London (he lives in Beirut)

        Paul Krugman at the NYT

        Paul Pillar at The National Interest http://nationalinterest.org/

        Some of these sites, and all of these commentators, will likely be anathematized by many conservative Christians because they are often highly critical of the way things are being managed by the western establishment. But then, there is much to be criticized.

    • James

      It is not the Orwellian nightmare, Bev. Long ago Neil Postman, in his Amusing ourselves to Death , wrote “Orwell warns that we will be overcome by an externally imposed oppression. But in [Aldous] Huxley’s vision, no Big Brother is required to deprive people of their autonomy, maturity and history. As he saw it, people will come to love their oppression, to adore the technologies that undo their capacities to think…What Orwell feared were those who would ban books. What Huxley feared was that there would be no reason to ban a book, for there would be no one who wanted to read one.” What we are dealing with is Huxley’s Brave New World, not Orwell’s 1984.

      • Bev Mitchell

        James,

        You may be thinking of Animal Farm. In any case, the location of the author does not limit the application of the truths observed. You may also like the 1985 British movie “Brazil” which, in a slapstick manner, chronicles the life (and death) of one poor Archibald Buttle, victim of a typo.

        “…to forget whatever it was necessary to forget, then to draw it back into memory again at the moment when it was needed, and then promptly to forget it again: and above all, to apply the same process to the process itself.” Winston Smith. from the quote section of snmoop.com

        But you are right, we have sufficient evidence to consider both Orwell and Huxley prescient. :(

  • jon Altman

    National Public Radio is a blessed exception.

    • rogereolson

      For the most part, yes. Unfortunately, I don’t listen to the radio much. I used to, but I bought an ipod and now listen to books when driving and running, etc. Is there a particular news program on NPR that you think is especially reliable (fair, objective, somewhat in depth, not aimed at a particular demographic, etc.)?

      • Jon Altman

        Morning Edition and All Things Considered

    • Laura

      While NPR does have a lot of great information, they definitely also have a distinct bias that is most evidently present in the information or opinions that they omit (key word). I’d listen to them to hear a more-balanced liberal view on a certain subject and then listen to some other conservative source for whatever information NPR left out. Of course, all that to say, NPR does bring up very interesting stories that most other news sources do not. I won’t say they are an exception to media bias, however.

    • earl simmons

      Unless you have a conservative point of view, of course!!!

      • Kenny Johnson

        I hear this complaint from conservatives a lot, but as an avid NPR listener, I just don’t get it. Certainly, I have my own bias (I lean to the left), but when NPR tackles an issue in their news programs, I feel like they try to be very balances. In fact, often times during when they read listener feedback on All Things Considered they will read 1 comment accusing of them of bias one way on their report and another comment accusing them of bias the other way on the SAME report.

        My own feeling is that those who lean far right see a bias that doesn’t exist, because NPR isn’t going to give a lot of attention to what is essentially a non-story that conservative “sources” like Beck are trying to spin into something they aren’t.

  • J.J.

    Spot on. It’s all about the money (ratings & ads). I think the advent of the 24hr news networks have made this all the worse. They have to create news & controversy to fill air time 24 hrs a day. I also think they’re much to blame for the polarization of politics in this country.

  • Tom

    I think unprincipled commerce and particularly unprincipled businessman are the most evil thing we have with us today. There is nothing sacred with them. I use to think politicians were the most unprincipled of people but even a corrupt politician still espouses love for his nation and at least maintains the guise of upholding certain principles that are foundational to the country.

    A unprincipled businessman…nothing is sacred. They will sell out their country, their principles, and even their religion, if they have one, for the sake of the dollar.

    I think you hit it right on the head in this post. Ratings and money are what networks are after. On the people’s side, the majority of people these days just want to be entertained. All sides are complicit. Just a few years ago all of the hallowed, storied college football conferences were broken up for bigger television contracts. On the surface they tried to talk about it as a good move for the school, more exposure to a national audience, etc., etc. But everyone knew it was about money.

    Now money has completely infected the news networks. I too noticed last week how many times they asked people, “how do you feel, how did you feel.” It’s like the reality T.V syndrome has affected news coverage. The line between news and entertainment has been blurred. I guess it’s because entertainment sells. One thing I always notice is how anchors of one network attack other rival networks outright. At the bottom of it is a ratings war which translates into more money for the respective networks. The news coverage comes at you so fast and at the same time we want to be entertained. Often times we just let your guard down and say “oh well.”

    Money corrupts everything. That’s why it’s so sad when you see part of evangelical Christianity going down this path with big block buster events, book tours, speaking engagements. and huge productions, etc.. We are so infected with this mentality that I don’t know how we will break free from it.

  • http://www.logosencounter.com Matthew

    A beautiful critique! Thank you. I have increasingly taken to NPR for news while listening to the radio. They strike me as doing investigative reporting of events and trends that matter. I’ll have to pay more attention to BBCA, as well. In recent blog (http://www.logosencounter.com/2013/04/dialogue-and-delusion-psychosis-and-art.html), I reflected on how the tendency to extremes may be a significant factor in the polarization of our national political scene (though blog is mostly about the similarity between psychosis and the blippy, soundbite proclamations of memes; I think there is a strong correlation between the topics).

    Do ou have any thought about how we might find or create a way out of this black hole?

    • rogereolson

      We need to speak up to the news outlets’ managers and to advertisers and let them know we don’t appreciate the dearth of solid news coverage and the move toward entertainment and advertising under the guise of “news.”

  • http://www.tillhecomes.org/ Jeremy Myers

    Yes. Despicable. As you point out, news isn’t news any more; it is entertainment.

  • John

    Great post Roger,I didn’t think I was the only one.

    I always think of “The Closing of the American Mind” a 1987 book by Allan Bloom. It describes “how higher education has failed democracy and impoverished the souls of today’s students.”

    Another great book by Thomas Sowell “Inside American Education” 1992 From Publishers Weekly
    “The American educational system, from grade school to grad school, is bankrupt, teachers are incompetent and schools cause social maladjustment, moral confusion and alienation, according to this blistering indictment by Sowell, a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution.”

    These were two great books I read years ago as my children were in the education system and I feel lucky I had a heads up on what was really going on in the schools.

    Thanks again for a great post pointing out this dumbing down of America

    • rogereolson

      But I don’t blame all teachers or school administrators. I blame mostly parents and lawmakers. Surely it wasn’t teachers who wanted students who only attended without learning to be given “Certificates of Attendance” instead of diplomas at graduation ceremonies and allowed to “walk” as if (to all outward appearances) they were graduating from high school. I believe it was parents putting pressure on lawmakers–including appointed education officials in state governments.

      • Tim Reisdorf

        There’s an old saying, “Those who can, do. Those who can’t, teach.” I wondered how that phrase got started and how it has persisted for so long. When I took a couple years of education classes to get my teaching license, I found out. I would second Sowell’s book.

  • traveller

    Your assessment is quite accurate. In addition to the BBCA you might consider Al Jazeera English which will soon be available on many US cable providers. In addition it is possible to stream their programs over the internet. Many of their programs are very in depth and done extremely well. They also report on many stories around the world that are never even heard on other outlets. When they have discussions there are always opposing views and the conversation is civil.

  • Bob

    Excellent post that describes why I have stopped watching television news altogether. My primary news source has become The Economist and that has helped me see the world from a much larger perspective. Television is fundamentally an entertainment medium that reduces everything to the trivial with little sense of proportion. Trivial matters are seen as important and important matters are reduced to trivia.

    • rogereolson

      Very well said. Several people have recommended The Economist to me. But the title scares me! “Economics” is “the dismal science,” you know. :)

      • Rnold86

        The Economist’s title is misleading. It isn’t full of treatises about economics and it certainly isn’t written by economists. The tone can be a little tedious at times, but you get global news which we can’t say for most English-speaking (i.e. American) media.

  • Steve Rogers

    Word!

    • rogereolson

      What does that mean? Is it like “Amen!?”

      • Steve Rogers

        Short for good word. Amen works, too.

  • James Petticrew

    Every time I am in the States and see Fox News etc I end up thinking despite all it’s faults the BBC isn’t too bad

    • rogereolson

      I even like the BBC’s version of Law & Order better than ours. (Not that I watch it much. I’ve only seen a few episodes.)

      • James Petticrew

        It panned over here. See if you can catch Broadchurch, excellent British detective drama

        • rogereolson

          To the best of my knowledge, it isn’t shown here. I watch BBCA for good detective dramas. I wondered why L&O didn’t show her anymore. Too bad; it was way better than our version.

  • Tim Reisdorf

    Roger,
    You make an excellent case for turning off the TV. I’ve lived without a TV for a dozen years without regret. My favorite “news source” comes from the web aggregator” Real Clear ____ (Policy, World, Markets, Politics, Science, Religion, Tech, History, Energy, Defense, Sports). Some of your posts have been linked on the RealClearReligion site. Very impressive!
    Tim

  • Joe Canner

    Thank you for a critique of the media that doesn’t equate “Mainstream Media” with “liberal”. This post gets to some genuine and important issues that many news outlets get wrong, regardless of how politically biased or unbiased they are.

    I would also add to the plug for NPR. Some conservatives find them too liberal, and they do occasionally lean that way, but I have conservative friends who listen to them regularly. They are generally not sensationalist, they are well-balanced, they cover stories from all over the world, and include stories that are too obscure for profits-obsessed MSM outlets. I listen to Morning Edition and All Things Considered on my commute (and also on Saturdays), but also occasionally Diane Rehm, MarketPlace, The World (NPR+BBC), and This American Life. For the lighter side, on the weekends there’s Car Talk, Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me, Whad’Ya Know, and Prairie Home Companion.

    • rogereolson

      Didn’t the “Car Talk” guys retire? I love This American Life. Great stories.

  • K Gray

    Mainstream news is a problem, and money as usual has influence.

    But I see two more pervasive influences: “correct” conventional wisdom + fear, and the politicization of everything. Correct conventional wisdom sets a narrative and promotes it by story choice, editing, omission of certain material facts, adjectives, headline writing, etc. The narrative – the agenda – is often something on which journalists and columnists may agree, but they may never have checked with the silent majority, voters. Any opposing view — no matter how fact-based or substantive — is derided or marginalized as ignorant, outdated or ‘mere politics.’

    When the correct agenda is achieved – usually legislation of some sort – THEN opposing information may come out, but it’s called “unintended consequences” or “unexpected.” It’s a surprise! Everyon knew it except followers of major media. Witness today’s front page NYT coverage of the USDA’s Pigford settlement. This has been covered on the internet for years, but whistleblowers could not get major media attention. It is not a politically correct story. It’s embarrassing. And it’s also years after-the-fact, when the facts were available.

    It takes unflinching moral courage to question correct conventional wisdom, and one must be prepared to be reviled.

    The second factor – politicization of everything – refers to story-writing increasingly follows a D-said-R-said paradigm. You read each side’s political soundbyte more than facts and information about the issues. NPR has this problem.

    An informed citizenry needs more information and less, commentary, politics, propaganda, and narrative. Some journalists still willing to ask real questions include Jake Tapper and Sharyl Atkisson.

  • Al Cruise

    My question is where are all the tens of millions of evangelicals on these issues such as Missing and Black, etc, Jesus said what you do for the least you do for me. Shouldn’t these issues be addressed in depth over the pulpit . Or have our sermons become just like the news media you talk about, lacking in real truth, instead going for mindless theologies trying to one up each other.

  • Tony Pounders

    I appreciate a critical reflection on American commercial news media coming from a theologian. I haven’t watched commercial news in several years. I prefer reading to television, as a general rule. Many seem to think we are living in what Orwell predicted, while others, like Neil Postman, think we are really living in what Huxley predicted. Perhaps it is a bit of both.
    Jean Baudrillard, who gave us hyperreality and simulacra, suggested that the war in Kuwait never happened or wasn’t real. He was, of course referring to the way commercial news media handled the event. We only saw and only heard what the news media decided we would see or hear. But what we saw through the news media was not the real war in Kuwait. Bottom line is that large corporations own the mainstream commercial news media, thus the MCNM will not say or do anything to contradict or jeopardize the interests of those corporations.
    Some may disagree, but I recommend John Pilger, Chris Hedges, Noam Chomsky, Howard Zinn, Amy Goodman, etc. They have the same concerns that you voice in this post.
    Perhaps, like Neo in The Matrix, it’s time to wake up and hear, “Welcome to the real world.” Well, I suppose we could all go on and on.
    Thank you Dr. Olson!

  • Dean

    Completely agree with the article, Roger. TV news is only about ratings and money. It’s disgusting. I too listen to NPR and read my news. The 24/7 TV news networks are agenda mills rather than reporting venues.

    • rogereolson

      Yes, I also. But I watch TV news occasionally just to remind myself how awful it is. Truly. I do not rely on it at all for news. But it’s kind of like watching a train wreck (to us an outdated metaphor)–you can’t take your eyes off it. But I do. But then I go back and watch again and say to myself (and my patient wife) “Oh, yes, that’s why I stopped watching TV news.” But I think this is a major social problem. Most people get their news from TV and radio (talk shows) and print media headlines (and first couple of paragraphs of stories). They then remain largely ignorant of what’s really going on in the world.

  • rumitoid

    I have heard both the Left and the Right complain about the news media, as if it were a homogenized single entity. Republicans called into doubt all pollsters, fact-checkers, and the venerable and well -trusted institution in charge of growth as being left wing-biased. MSNBC has several hosts that can be labeled biased to the Left only because they give facts and careful analyisis which refutes Right Wing claims (and hysteria). Can truth feel safe and right in any label of Right or Left? If those identified as Conservative or liberal bring forth facts about some controversial event, should it be considered biased?

    How can anyone consider themselves for the best governance that allows for the label of Conservative or Liberal? I feel these labels naturally exclude a just and wise result.

  • rumitoid

    I have heard both the Left and the Right complain about the news media, as if it were a homogenized single entity. Republicans called into doubt all pollsters, fact-checkers, and the venerable and well -trusted institution in charge of growth as being left wing-biased. MSNBC has several hosts that can be labeled biased to the Left only because they give facts and careful analyisis which refutes Right Wing claims (and hysteria). Can truth feel safe and right in any label of Right or Left? If those identified as Conservative or liberal bring forth facts about some controversial event, should it be considered biased?

    How can anyone consider themselves for the best governance that allows for the label of Conservative or Liberal? I feel these labels naturally exclude a just and wise result. Not only that, I feel such labels are worldliness and at enmity with God.

    Naive, right? How can we avoid these labels in the ‘real world”? If we truly understood what it meant to be “a citizen of heaven,” “a stranger in a strange land,” foreigner,” “alien,” and an “ambassador 0f heaven.” The compromise many make with the world in their involvement with politics is what, I feel, Jesus would call the lukewarm.

    Truth is not conservative or liberal, and as such speaking and living the truth is not political; it is simply faith.

  • http://www.darrylschoeman.com Darryl Schoeman

    Dear sir. Thank you for writing this. Art Katz once said that he wrote a letter to a particular orginisation complaining about something. He went further stating that he did not believe that anything would come about of his letter but that it needed to be written none the less. To paraphrase Edmund Burke, it is exactly because good men don’t do anything (write letters) that evil prospers. Well done for writing this particular post and your personal letters. God bless. Darryl.

  • Timothy

    This is a problem elesewhere too. The news on the BBC in UK is increasingly shaped by the need for drama rather than information. And this is quite apart from the annoying level of bias in the presentation.

  • Andy

    I second what K Gray says above: politicalization and sound bytes. A reason NPR is better is that they take more than 20 seconds. Their interviewees are usually given time to respond in paragraphs instead of half-sentences , and without interruption.

    But I think the real learning comes from books. I think the internet tends towards surface-thinking via hyperlinks just like sound-bytes do. How often does the typical webpage viewer stop to read a long article? Even your site is best accompanied by the books and articles you refer to (and thank you so much for bringing your views and thoughts to ordinary people like me who don’t have good access to the articles of your profession).

    I pick up the Economist at the airport, sometimes. I want to cite Thomas Sowell’s books as an example of books informing follow-up reading on related news events. I am fiscally conservative and pretend I have come to my views based on the “logic” of Sowell and others. I have two thoughts when you make economic comments. First, that I need to hear and consider what you are saying, especially as from a theologian I respect and who offers balancing views. Second I wish you would read a Thomas Sowell book or two.

    • rogereolson

      Thanks for the suggestion.

  • Jerrine Regan

    I agree that it’s all about the advertising. I don’t usually watch the evening news anymore, but to get updates on the Boston bombings I watched Brian Williams on NBC. What I was amazed at was how he would give 3 minutes of news then the station would go to commercials for 5-6minutes continuously throughout the 30min. broadcast. No wonder people are getting their news via the internet!

    • rogereolson

      Yes, the barrage of commercials is another reason to avoid television news. Increasingly I pre-record programs so that I can fast forward through the commercials, many of which are simply insulting to viewers’ intelligence. (E.g., “You have a right to be unlimited!”)

  • K Gray

    On foreign events, I find that Reuters covers facts that don’t make it into the AP. Most such facts are inconvenient.

    I also wanted to speak up for journalism. Newspapers are fading, cutting budgets and staff; maybe broadcast news is, too. This is in a time when news is more easily faked and/or manipulated. Presidential press conferences are practically nonexistent. Federal agency heads or cabinet members issue vague and confusing statements, only to change them a few days later. Twitter feeds are hacked. Data is misrepresented, whether intentionally or not. ‘Fact checkers’ do little more than disagree with someone’s stated opinion or prediction. Even ‘victims’ are sometimes fake (e.g., when the human-interest story ‘victim’ of a budget cut is actually a political operative or serial defaulter or asset-hider – and this fakery ends up hurting the cause of true victims).

    The major media simply can’t do everything. But I wish they didn’t appear so…lacking in traditional skepticism.

  • Rick mcnamara

    James is correct-postman was discussing orwell’s 1984 , not animal farm. Postman’s book was published in 1985 and it is still worth reading today. Some mass media classes
    require it. Very few students now enter college having read either Orwell or Huxley–or much of anything else.

  • Jerome Ellard

    How about the Christian Science Monitor?

    • rogereolson

      I’ve always wondered if the Church of Christ, Scientist believes the Christian Science Monitor is real. :)

  • Rene

    Yes.


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