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News Media Bashing: The Bashing Goes Both Ways

In response to Politics and News Media Bashing

The bashing goes both ways.

A few weeks ago after Fred Thompson gave a speech to thank his supporters in South Carolina, Chris Matthews of MSNBC could not wait to jump in on the last word of Mr. Thompson’s speech to state how much of a “waste of time” it was. The worst part was that he, like so many in the media these days, was smirking about his comments. It was evident he thought his commentary was quite clever.

As supporter of Mr. Thompson, I was deeply offended. I thought it was a very nice gesture for a candidate, any candidate not just my pick, to politely thank the people who worked for him and those who voted for him. And even though it was obvious at that point that Mr. Thompson would soon be pulling out of the race, I felt Chris Matthews comment was a stinging smack in the face to Thompson, his staff and supporters. The idea Mr. Matthews conveyed was that expressing thanks is a waste of time.

His comment felt very politically motivated.

Of course, I am not in Mr. Matthews’ head and do not know what he was thinking at that point in time. But I have a strong idea had it been Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, or any of the other Democratic presidential contenders making this same speech, this comment would not have been made.

I generally don’t watch MSNBC because I’m a conservative and tend to like Fox News more than most of the other media outlets. Not that holding conservative views automatically mandates I watch Fox News. Neither does holding a liberal point of view necessarily require someone to only watch CNN or MSNBC. My perception is that Fox News is more conservative-friendly. On this particular day I was on a treadmill at the gym and somewhat locked into watching and listening to politics on MSNBC, a college basketball game in which I had no vested interest, or something akin to a rerun of BET’s Hell Date. Maybe Hell Date would have been more entertaining, but I chose politics.

However, for as much as I enjoy Fox News, I recognize that “fair and balanced” is balanced a great deal of the time toward the conservative point of view. I often say Fox News is balanced in the ‘right’ direction – pun intended.

As a former media person and an aspiring blogger, I know and fully understand that if a person passionately believes in something, it is virtually impossible to write a story that does not reflect those values and beliefs. Each word chosen often has an alternative expression. That alternative expression, while meaning the same thing, carries different connotations and feelings for those who hear or read those words. For example, when discussing abortion, do I choose to say that someone is pro-life or are they anti-abortion? Even the order of those word choices in that question can color a person’s perception of what I am attempting to convey.

Nonetheless, I still believe that when writing and reporting the news, it is just that – the news. There is a time and place for sharing personal opinions about the news in an editorial forum.

I am appalled by the way the some (but not all by any means) in powerful positions in the media now try to unashamedly shape our views. Even more, I am disgusted by the dismissive attitude that certain individual reporters as well as the “powers-that-be” have toward stories they see as unimportant. You can find this regardless of whether they represent the liberal, conservative or moderate point of view.

When did the media change from simply reporting the facts to assuming their audience is interested in their personal opinions? Or is it that they think “the rest of us” are not well enough informed to make intelligent decisions based on the facts? Do they think we need their “star-powered” opinions to help us sort through everything?

In journalism classes 20-something years ago, I was taught that a journalist was expected to avoid inflammatory rhetoric. I was also taught to try to avoid injecting blatant personal biased into what I said and wrote. My job was to write and report the facts and leave my personal feelings out of it as much as is possible. I was also taught to fairly represent both sides of a story, giving not only equal time but equal respect.

I believe the root of the problem is a basic lack of respect not only for the story being covered but for the audience as well. And it is a problem not just in the media. This lack of respect is a huge problem in general in our society. Many people are far too interested in expressing their own thoughts, projecting their feelings and keeping their schedules to bother with having respect for anyone else. They would rather keep their agenda in tact than to think of how their words and deeds affect others.

Media in a free society is a reflection of the society that surrounds it. Unfortunately, instead of being leaders and rising above this type of behavior, our media is reflecting some of the worst of our society. No wonder so many around the world seem to have so little respect for us as a people. We apparently have little respect for ourselves or each other. Until we as a society find a way to reject our self-centered attitudes, our media will continue to be a mirror of this type of behavior.

Copyright © 2008 by One Write Angle™
All rights reserved.

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Categories: News, Politics
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