Watching television news can be hazardous to your mental health. In fact, I'm starting to believe the cable guides should put warning labels on the local and cable news outlets: Warning! Overexposure to these stations can cause depression for those people who believe in common sense and truth. Watch at you own risk!
What am I talking about, you ask? Several items on the local and national news lately have me wondering where we are headed and what will happen when we get there? As regular readers are aware, one of my biggest concerns is the abortion issue and what it says about our society and culture. Another area where I've inserted myself (unasked, I will admit) is the current debate over gun control.
Amazingly, these two issues have media attention stories that allow me to weave both into the same article. Actually, it's not amazing: with today's media there is an almost endless supply of fodder for someone who is always on the lookout for media hypocrisy. The examples today can be quickly examined for bias and hypocrisy but what they portend for the future terrifies me.
In the gun control corner: The NRA ran an ad recently against the current rash of proposals for more gun control in the wake of the Sandy Hook shootings. The ad mentioned the fact that the President's children were protected by armed guards yet they wanted other children to go to school in gun-free zones with no protection. The ad also called David Gregory (host of Meet the Press) and the President hypocrites for their questioning the wisdom of armed guards for the general public's school systems while sending their kids to schools with armed guards.
Provocative ad? Absolutely. Over the line? Here my position may bias my judgement but I am not writing this to argue the merits of the commercial- just to examine the media reaction to it. And the media reaction was fast and furious (an inside joke wasted on those who ignore the more objective media outlets). Over three hundred articles or news stories managed to get in print or on the air regarding this story and whether it was in good taste.
Now to the abortion corner: The Center for Reproductive Rights released an ad titled, "Happy 40th Anniversary Baby" starring Mehcad Brooks (stars in Necessary Roughness) in front of a fireplace, rose in one hand, wine in the other and wishing "baby" a happy 40th anniversary in a sexy voice. What 40th? you might ask. Well it was made to celebrate the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the historic decision striking down abortion laws across the country.
Provocative ad? Absolutely. Over the line? Once again, my position may bias my opinion so I will leave it to the reader to figure out where I stand. (Hint- read some of my previous articles.) Again I'd like to examine media reaction to an ad that is at least as controversial ad the NRA's. Or should I say non-reaction.
As opposed to the three hundred plus stories analyzing the NRA ad, Fox News was able to find only four (that's right FOUR) stories regarding the Happy Anniversary ad- AND THEY ALL APPEARED ON FOX NEWS! So I guess we know where the mainstream media stands regarding provocative ads- way to the left. Now the question I want to ask is "what does this all mean?" (Hillary might ask, "Does it really matter?")
Here's what I'm afraid it means and why I'm afraid for the future: There is an unquestionable agenda that much of what is referred to as the "mainstream media" is pushing in the way it reports the news. Advocacy journalism has an important role in society, but so does objective reporting. Unfortunately, objective journalism is in short supply today and that, I fear, will not be a good thing in the long run.
As people are constantly exposed to this advocacy journalism clothed as objective reporting the line between fact and opinion will continue to blur. As I mentioned in my last article facts are losing their import as money, fame, spin and volume crowd facts out of the national discussion. When facts become secondary to the discussion, smooth talking politicians, newscasters, movie stars and others can lead in directions that may not be healthy for the country.
One example is our debt situation. I have written that if something isn't done we could face economic collapse unless we get this debt under control. The fact is we spend one trillion dollars more than we take in in taxes yearly. At some point this will translate to interest rates that will spike and eventual inflation. This may have started in 2011 when Standard and Poor's downgraded the US credit rating for the first time in history.
The laws of Economics aren't subject to popular opinion so as our credit rating drops the interest rate on our borrowing will eventually have to rise. Rising interest rates will fuel inflation and eventually the economy will slow down. Add in the trillions of dollars in unfunded mandates for Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid and sooner or later you have Greece on steroids.
Sadly, all attempts to discuss these issues have been met with resistance from those whose livelihood is dependent on continuation of the status quo. This is beyond a partisan issue as both Democrats and Republicans have had their snouts in the public trough for so long they all seem invested in continuing this fools' game. As long as we continue to ignore facts for who has the smoothest delivery and the best spin and, as long as we allow the media to drive opinion at the expense of objectivity, I fear for the future.