Thursday, June 19, 2008


I distrust what I read in most newspapers and see in most media outlets. This was not always the case.

In my old age I've come to realize that critical thinking skills are as rare as accurate reporting. I have, unfortunately, narrowed the list of reporters and columnists I trust down to a very few...And I'm fact checking those. It's not that I toss them away when they make a mistake. Not at all, because everybody does...even on extremely rare occasion, me. It's being open to realizing a mistake and publicly correcting it that is the virtue.

In this day of highly researched political marketing technique, the truth is as elusive as an Ivory Bill's probably out there but nobody seems to be able to find it. A distant squawk and a couple of knocks and people start yelling all sorts of inferences that turn out to be wild speculation. They're everywhere, they're everywhere!...Only they aren't. There's a few of them out there, maybe, just enough to keep things stirred up, and the stuff that's just made up will have to pass as reporting.

The same thing is at work in modern day media. One poor old tired locally elected party official says something rather stupid, ill informed, and down right wrong, and off they go. Poor Fred Hobbs is a sick man, and by that I mean physically as well. He's obviously out of his depth, which is a nice way of saying clueless. For him to be elevated to the national political stage over his "terrorist connections" remark does poor old Fred an injustice. It is like calling up a retired minor league third baseman to pitch in the playoffs. Not only does he look like a fool but it gets stink all over every body else on the team, which is obviously better than that.

The travesty of the media uproar is the greater sin, however, as they took the controversy from the idiotic, ignoring the actual question of what constitutes a terrorist, and ratcheted localized stupidity all the way up to "Everybody who ever met me is a racist." Give me a break, will ya media? Are the reporting skills and editorial capabilities so lacking that this is what you feel you owe your reading public?

Congressman Lincoln Davis was off in other places but also got tarnished by the speculative nature of Hobbs' blathering, even to the point of getting blasted by Harold Ford, Jr. This is nuts. Davis actively campaigned for Harold Ford, making public appearance after appearance with him. Speculation is that Ford has taken advantage of the uproar because he has his eye on the Tennessee Governor's mansion and sees Lincoln as a rival. (Way to treat your friends, Harold... I've got YOUR back, too.)

The media then proceeded to veer off in all sorts of ridiculous directions that simply bore no relationship to anything grounded in fact. Lincoln, who has been busy with his actual job as a Congressman, "Blessed" Harold's heart for being such a loyal friend, Beecher issued as succinct a statement as one can by calling the terrorist flap "idiotic", and reporters, seeing the well of this manufactured story drying up, rushed back to talk to Fred Hobbs, who comes off as ever more pitiful.

I'm tired of this farce.

I wish reporters would move on to something that really matters, like offshore drilling policy, the Iraq War, or whether or not Cindy McCain is plagiarizing recipes for her cookbook. The trustworthiness of reporting in America always takes a dive during election year and that's too bad. This is exactly when we need good information and factual articles.

But with the Republican presidential candidate, as well as the party as a whole, being so incredibly weak that they will have to ratchet up the "Fear and Smear" campaign tactics in order to have a chance of only being defeated by a landslide, the American Media seems to be "Reporting for duty, sir."

If the early signs are any indication, we should put on our hip boots.



PS: I know some very good reporters and media people. Too bad the other 90% give them a bad name. Here's my vote for quote of the day:

I actually think we’re in a very serious situation here. If we’re not careful we’re going to have nothing but a morass of information that’s relatively mindless, and no one will be watching the store. That’s dangerous. Someone has to watch those folks in power, regardless of their power. The role of journalists is that watchdog role. The two most expensive and endangered species of journalism today are international journalism and investigative journalism, and you’ve got every major news organization shutting down bureaus around the world. This has been a difficult time for investigative journalists, so somebody better come up with Plan B.

Charles Lewis

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