Media Sneakiness… Don’t Look Now

I used to believe that the Wall Street Journal was an objective paper — as objective as any paper can be.  No human-created thing is ever going to be totally objective. I understand that. I wish it were different, but it’s not. OK.

But one of the things that happened in the 1990’s and 1st decade of this century is that media conglomerated.  A few TV stations bought out other TV stations.  Big radio bought out local radio, and some big newspapers (The New York Times, for instance) bought out smaller-but-still-big newspapers (The Boston Globe, for instance).   Underneath it all, some corporations bought out all kinds of media.  Rupert Murdoch’s FOX is one of those corporations. They own things like tabloid-style newspapers (the New York Daily News, I think)  and things like that, that look tacky, pander to our lowest instincts and can never spell the entire word in the headline: “Prez to Dems: We Win!”

FOX,  which proclaims itself to be “Fair and Balanced” is anything but.  I’m sure, if you think there’s a liberal media bias, FOX looks more balanced because it’s closer to conservative.  But I’m not convinced there IS a liberal bias if there ever was one.  Walter Cronkite’s power did not come from being a pundit or a flaming liberal. It came from his at least trying to be objective. So, when he said Vietnam was a mistake, we — as a country– believed him.

Also, when I was a kid, the local TV station would have opinion pieces from the General Manager of so-and-such station.  At the end of the piece, they would say “responsible opposing viewpoints are welcome” and — every once in a while — some local guy would present his view of the issue and challenge the station’s viewpoint.   In other words, if there was a “liberal bias”, you had the right (some would say responsibility) to correct it with your own.

But, every once in awhile, I’ll watch FOX News in the morning at the local diner or whatever and I’m astounded at how much “spin” they put on their news. OK,  fair enough. If I don’t want to watch it, I don’t have to.  (BTW, my favorite TV show these days, “Bones” is on Fox and it’s great, so I don’t have a problem with the whole network, just the “News” side.)

But in the same way that no self-respecting Red Sox fan could handle the news that Boston’s best paper was owned by a NEW YORK conglomerate, (even if it’s considered the best paper in the world by many), I can’t handle the idea that the news synopsis I used to read during my college radio years is actually run by the same people that can’t — or refuse to — spell “president”.

Someone posted an article on Facebook about president Obama’s supposed dishonesty. It was from the Wall Street Journal.  I couldn’t imagine a Newspaper article saying such things about a president’s character, until I realized who was publishing this opinion.  If the Wall Street Journal were actually the objective paper it used to be, I would really be worried about our president. But now, because it’s not, I’m worried for our president — and our country.  Not to squawk too loudly about a view different than mine,  but impuning a president’s character is another example of the way we treat actually respectable people.  It’s not like he’s a leader or anything. He’s a celebrity and we can say anything we want about celebrities.

The problem is that there’s a huge difference between Jon and Kate’s marital problems (which don’t impact me one whit) and our president’s policy on foreign trade or global warming (which does).  In blurring the line between famous-for-a-reason and famous-because-they’re-famous, we’ve lost any sense of who is truly important and worthy of respect.  Obama is an accomplished man. Jon and Kate are famous people.  It’s important to know the difference.

In the same way, the New York Post looks like it was written for people who don’t think while the Wall Street Journal looks humble and objective. It doesn’t scream and it can spell. It’s fairly thick and takes a certain level of reading — more than 3rd grade or something.  But it’s not either humble or objective when it can exacerbate a situation with Letterman, then Leno, then Obama as though they were all the same type of people and it can do so pretending to be objective.

I have read articles on media giants taking over our media by buying each other out, leaving only a few standing with power. I couldn’t keep track of who was who and nodded off. I knew what they were saying might be important, but I just couldn’t do it.  Now, though, it might seem too late. The only thing I can tell you is that the Wall Street Journal is not what it seems to be.  Nor was the Boston Globe, but I think they’re not owned by the Times anymore.

In any case, take your news with a grain of salt, maybe a pound of salt.

Responsible opposing viewpoints are welcome.




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