By now, everyone knows what they will see if they watch Fox News. The 24-hour news channel has been so shameless in pushing a “conservative” agenda that right-wing viewers can always count on hearing the BS they want to hear. The real danger to those of us who would like to know the truth is in the craven incompetence of news sources that present themselves as impartial, and sometimes even those that have a reputation for liberalism.
I recently commented that the Associated Press is now spewing anti-Obama propaganda disguised as “analysis.” I don’t think this is the result of some huge conspiracy; I think it is caused by the degradation of journalism. We journalists once prided ourselves on our objectivity. We tried to present the facts fairly and if we were called on to disclose our conclusions, we tried to be logical and impartial. Those old-time editors did not put up with reporters who wanted to vent their personal feelings. Like Jack Webb on Dragnet, editors wanted the facts, just the facts.
Today, I came across an article by Sebastian Jones in The Nation that leaves me feeling deep despair for my former trade. Here’s an excerpt:
President Obama spent most of December 4 touring Allentown, Pennsylvania, meeting with local workers and discussing the economic crisis. A few hours later, the state’s former governor, Tom Ridge, was on MSNBC’s Hardball With Chris Matthews, offering up his own recovery plan. There were “modest things” the White House might try, like cutting taxes or opening up credit for small businesses, but the real answer was for the president to “take his green agenda and blow it out of the box.” The first step, Ridge explained, was to “create nuclear power plants.” Combined with some waste coal and natural gas extraction, you would have an “innovation setter” that would “create jobs, create exports.”
As Ridge counseled the administration to “put that package together,” he sure seemed like an objective commentator. But what viewers weren’t told was that since 2005, Ridge has pocketed $530,659 in executive compensation for serving on the board of Exelon, the nation’s largest nuclear power company. As of March 2009, he also held an estimated $248,299 in Exelon stock, according to SEC filings.
Moments earlier, retired general and “NBC Military Analyst” Barry McCaffrey told viewers that the war in Afghanistan would require an additional “three- to ten-year effort” and “a lot of money.” Unmentioned was the fact that DynCorp paid McCaffrey $182,309 in 2009 alone. The government had just granted DynCorp a five-year deal worth an estimated $5.9 billion to aid American forces in Afghanistan. The first year is locked in at $644 million, but the additional four options are subject to renewal, contingent on military needs and political realities….
These incidents represent only a fraction of the covert corporate influence peddling on cable news, a four-month investigation by The Nation has found. Since 2007 at least seventy-five registered lobbyists, public relations representatives and corporate officials – people paid by companies and trade groups to manage their public image and promote their financial and political interests – have appeared on MSNBC, Fox News, CNN, CNBC and Fox Business Network with no disclosure of the corporate interests that had paid them. Many have been regulars on more than one of the cable networks, turning in dozens – and in some cases hundreds – of appearances….
For the complete article, click:
Click on » Slide Show: The Faces of the Lobbying-Media Complex for information on the illustration above.
What’s most disturbing to me is that, while I expect Fox, CNN, and other corporate-owned news sources, to give me the Big Business slant on things, I expect a liberal bias from MSNBC. Yet because of the incompetence of the producers and others employed in today’s news gathering, shows like Hardball often wind up channeling hardcore conservative propaganda.
In today’s complicated world, misinformation and disinformation shower us like bacteria, spread by accident as well as design. Even when they don’t intend to mislead us, the media are often tricked into conveying messages they should know to be tainted.