The Media Giveth. And the Media Taketh Away.


What better way to close a long and tedious year by taking a stab at the media, a group of influential,
highly opinionated, grandstandingmed_Pamelas_Mug_copy55
demagogues who largely will do anything for a story (present company excluded please).  And once they’ve seized upon a story by appealing to people’s emotions, instincts and prejudices they become frightening manipulative and dangerous.

Please note that while the print media is not immune to these superlatives, the electronic media far and away holds the monopoly on kerosene journalism.

Grayden Carter, esteemed editor of Vanity Fair, said recently: “The Washington press corps has mutated into a pious, overpaid class of political touts and scorekeepers with little grasp of real-world problems or life as it is lived among ordinary people in the vast sweep of America beyond the Beltway.” My God he gets the point!

Mainstream media will create a hero one day, and destroy them the next. And once a talking head grabs hold of something that seems to buzz in the minds of the vulnerable public, the rest of the flies take flight, beating the subject, and often the fallen hero, to death.
John McCain’s “maverick” image was created by the press, and for sometime kept him in favor with them, even forgiving him for not knowing all the facts or having a temper that flared in public on occasion. Now it seems McCain is a has-been and few can remember his once great appeal.

Today’s media darling is Sarah Palin who brazenly shot, killed and sat on her dead caribou recently on her ‘reality’ show.  Whether the right or the left love her politics, she’s been given a status far and above her level of intelligence or understanding of America. They’ve gone so far as to make her ordinary daughter into a media star just by her association with her mother.

Despite Palin benefiting from the national media’s attention, she has a predominantly adversarial relationship with them. She is forced to constantly berate the press corps in order to stay in the spotlight, no doubt a clever effort to manipulate her popularity with conservatives who stood strongly behind her during the campaign.

Sarrah Abulughod writes in a media commentary:  The depiction of women in the media has been the topic of countless articles; deliberators have filled many pages of text since the first person flipped on their television set and saw June Cleaver vacuuming in pearls. Some take the stance that there has been a drastic change since then, that we have come a long way with powerful characters like
Murphy Brown.

Women have made plenty of progress and indeed, full equality has allegedly been achieved. But the media strives to resurrect sexist stereotypes of women by a calculated deployment of their faces, bodies, attire and sexuality. If Palin were not attractive, she would have fallen from grace immediately after the election.

Who in the public arena has not been the victim of a story that was perhaps unsupported or unauthenticated and published anyway by certain media outlets? Vicious rumors and wild accusations from “journalists” who care more about their own agendas than they do about the truth have ruined many a reputation (our own Senator Bob Packwood among them).

And yet, the national media will break someone down and the next day give them a voice they don’t deserve.

On any given day mainstream media has given us the likes of New York’s Elliott Spitzer, former governor of New York until his resignation in 2008 after being caught in a high-priced prostitution ring. But today he is a political commentator and the co-host of a talk show on CNN.   Dick Morris, a longtime friend and advisor to Bill Clinton, was a darling of the media until it was revealed that he too was involved with a prostitute. Today he is a media commentator and writes a weekly column for the New York Post and appears regularly on Fox
News Channel.

For 37 years beginning in 1967, Marv Albert was the voice of the New York Knicks on radio and television. Albert became the focus of a media frenzy in 1997, when he went on trial for felony charges of forcible sodomy. Consequently, NBC – for whom Albert worked for over 20 years – fired him shortly before the 1997-98 NBA season. Ah, but NBC brought Albert back less than two years later, and he was the network’s main play-by-play man for the 2000-01 and 2001-02 NBA seasons.

Other well-known ‘hooker friendly’ celebrities are embraced and accepted by the media frequently. But perhaps it’s how the media has reported the fallen economy that has the biggest impact on our lives. We don’t have to watch those bad boys’ redemption, but we do want to know what’s going on with our nation’s economy.

If the media doesn’t have a temporarily fallen celebrity to berate — and embellish, they may be forced to turn to mortgages, jobs and taxes. But will they report the whole story or zero in on just the bad news?

On CNN you’ll hear that the housing market is going to bounce back soon and your property values will stabilize, while if you turn into Fox News you’ll be surprised to hear that a recovery is most unlikely and in fact you may wait another decade before seeing an increase. On one station it’s the Republicans who will save us with tax and regulatory policy changes and yet, flip the channel and it’s the Democrats, with their extended unemployment benefits and stimulus funds, who will help the economy.

It’s hard to believe any of it, because there’s so much prejudice and manipulated data in the media that reporting is rarely based on the facts (if they are to be known at all).

Journalists and news producers within the mass media have the ability to select which events and stories are reported and how they are covered. This media bias implies a pervasive and widespread manipulating of the news. Oftentimes reporters leave out facts in order to embellish a story. On another level a biased presentation can come from the ownership or managerial staff of the news source, the preferences of an intended audience and, perhaps even worse, pressure from advertisers.

What to do? We can’t recommend that you stop reading, watching and listening because you don’t want to live in your own private little bubble. But we do suggest that you take it all in, stir it up a little and decipher it the best you can.  And be skeptical by checking sources on anything that sounds suspect.

The significance of media communication lies in the continuing circle of messages, your response and what rhetoric you believe – it’s never-ending and it’s always connected. From our biased point of view, we think that local news is more reliable and trustworthy, with less agenda than a national press corps.  pha


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Founded in 1994 by the late Pamela Hulse Andrews, Cascade Business News (CBN) became Central Oregon’s premier business publication. •

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