Everything I know is wrong again

Just about everything I know about print and broadcast journalism I learned from watching movies or TV. Though I’ve seen It Happened One Night, His Girl Friday, Citizen Kane, Sweet Smell of Success, Network, and All The President’s Men, I know almost nothing about how Things Really Work.

Here’s what I thought I knew:

Newspapers and television news departments compete with other newspapers and television networks for the largest audience share. Whoever has the largest audience can charge the highest advertising rates. The name of the game is to scoop the competition, grab the headlines, get a byline, and keep bringing in those advertising dollars.

That’s obviously not the case at all.

For almost 14 years the national print media and the three major networks have consistently overlooked one of the biggest scandals in the history of journalism:

The FOX News network … Lies.

Rupert Murdoch plowed 100 million dollars a year for five years to build a cable news network that intentionally lies or distorts the truth to millions of Americans.

I know … I know … why devote air time or copy space stating the obvious?

Because It’s News!

Anytime anyone sinks a half billion dollars into a media entity that masquerades as a news organization but is instead the propaganda arm of Right Wing Corporatism … as Darren “Kolchak” McGavin would say, “That’s News Vincenzo …. NEWS!

If the major newspapers and ABC, CBS, and NBC had been hammering FOX News over every one of their blatant lies or distortions of fact, the present day FOX News audience would be primarily made up of people who are voluntarily incontinent.

MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow and Keith Olbermann slam FOX News regularly. At best MSNBC has fewer than a half million viewers. Liberal talk radio takes on FOX more often but … to how many people? Currently, there are fewer than 100 U.S. commercial radio stations carrying liberal talk programs. Each weekday there is over 10 times as much conservative talk as progressive talk. A tree falling in the forest, or a Right Wing Lie exposed only makes an impact if there’s an audience.

6 years ago Robert Greenwald co-produced and directed the DVD, Outfoxed – Rupert Murdoch’s War on Journalism. The film is an overwhelming condemnation of Fox’s skewed practices and argues that Fox News has been engaging in what amounts to consumer fraud. Greenwald’s documentary was like Edward R. Murrow’s See It Now program on CBS that led to the political downfall of Senator Joseph McCarthy in 1954. But Outfoxed wasn’t produced by any of the Big 3 Networks. For some reason covering a cable news network that lies constantly to their audience while pumping out conservative propaganda isn’t newsworthy.

Every night over 20 million people tune into ABC, CBS, and NBC for the nightly news. That’s an audience almost 20 times larger than FOX News garners. Then why does that little pipsqueak of a network wield such power?

How do out-of-context edit jobs flogged by Andrew Breitbart and broadcast on FOX News cause ACORN to be defunded and Shirley Sherrod to lose her job? Why does anyone take the work of a thoroughly discredited Andrew Breitbart and a thoroughly discredited FOX News seriously?

In February 2008 FOX News broadcast a video of Michele Obama’s speech with one word edited out.

What she said, “… for the first time in my lifetime I’m really proud of my country.”

What FOX broadcast was, “ … for the first time in my lifetime I’m proud of my country.

The edited video made it look like it took her husband’s political victories for her to be finally proud of America. An unedited quote would obviously show that she has been proud of her country … but now she was really proud.

At the time I called three journalism professors at the University of Washington, an anchor at a network affiliate, and asked them what would happen in the newsroom, or the classroom, if anyone edited a quote to change its meaning.

They responded:

Changing that one word drastically alters the meaning … It’s an ethical violation. Obviously not a mistake.

I teach my students to Never Alter Quotes. If I found out about it … I’d flunk them.

I have never worked anywhere where that is acceptable.

There would be Severe Consequences. In the newsroom I’d outright can his/her ass

By the way … I first found the edited video that aired on FOX at Breitbart.tv. That slimeball has a history of collaborating with FOX News. 20 million Americans would have known that already if newspapers and television news departments did their job.

The competition for news that drove reporters and editors in movies doesn’t exist in Real World Journalism. The only conclusion I can come to is that we’re not seeing competition … because the daily news is delivered to us by The Cartel. A group of Corporate Elites of which FOX News has full membership.

This might seem to be a disturbing development but I wouldn’t worry about it to much.

The overwhelming success of Health Care and Financial Reform leads me to believe that a similar Media Reform will put everything back to right in no time.

In the meantime I guess we’ll just have to put up with the next Breitbart/FOX News collaboration when they zero in on someone or some other organization to delegitimize, defund, and defang by lying their asses off because as sure as God Made Valium … Help is unquestionably on the way.

Everything I know is wrong again August 31, 2010


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