Oregon writer, Rain Trueax, and Oregon painter, Diane Widler Wenzel co-author Rainy Day Thought. Diane generally posts on Wednesdays and Rain on Saturdays. There may be extra days or changes as situations warrant. Comments are always welcome and appreciated as it turns an article into a discussion.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

who's behind it?

This next issue is one that has concerned me a LOT this year. It has not been in a debate and often someone who brings it up can find their post censored in comments. It's the issue of where we get our news-- television, cable, print, radio, and social media. It is where supposedly we get our information. Specifically, this is about news dissemination in the United States.

Before this election, I thought we had so many places to get news that we could always find both sides of an issue. I thought where some sites presented one perspective, there'd be another with another side. I thought news meant journalism.

That was naive taking into account the history of news where the media has often driven public opinion to suit its own agenda. Yellow journalism is a way to get attention by sensationalism-- often to distract from real purposes. An example is when the Hearst newspaper empire wanted the Spanish-American War and created headlines that stirred up the populace-- especially using a ship destroyed in an explosion. Remember the Maine! became the battle cry. Who cared what actually caused that explosion. It was how it could be used. 

Through time humans have been manipulated by those who supposedly give them the information they need for intelligent decision making. It probably was true in tribal living also. Today though, didn't many of us think we were beyond that, and both sides would be presented?

When Hillary Clinton ran against Bernie Sanders, the DNC wanted her, and they did what they could to make it happen. I get that. It's the establishment protecting itself. Someone else though worked on Hillary's behalf, while they barely covered Bernie's speeches or his large crowds. Media glossed over or ignored that she couldn't fill even a small auditorium. Where she got constant positive coverage, he was ignored. 

The fix had been in to such a level that the head of the DNC had to resign in the middle of the convention. She was immediately added to the Clinton campaign and will doubtless be rewarded in a Clinton administration. But whether we should trust a party to be fair, shouldn't we have been able to trust the media to cover the full story and let Americans know both sides? Well, whatever we should have expected, it was not what happened.

At the same time, we had Trump who proved to be a showy candidate in positive and negative ways. His large crowds excited interest, and he got more media coverage than the other Republican candidates-- much of it often negative, but coverage is coverage. But the media often twisted headlines to mislead as to what Trump had actually said. Sensationalism stirs people up. Yellow Journalism does sell papers-- but it also directs the reader/viewer to a desired conclusion.

Then came the conventions, and two major candidates were left. Coverage on the two minor candidates, who would appear on most ballots, was minimal to non-existent. They were forced out of the debates because the polls said they didn't have the requisite number of followers.

For someone like me, who is not a leftie or rightie, as a writer, observing what came next was interesting in terms of human nature. As a citizen, it left me cold. The media bias became so obvious that eventually they admitted they were trying to direct voters to vote for Clinton. Probably for a leftie this seemed good. Can we trust Americans to sift through all that is out there? Why don't we make it easy for them by only giving them what we consider good for them!  Someone had to stop a dangerous candidate. So the headlines became even more distorted, and the fear talk covered with more vigor.

Along came the hot mic video followed immediately by women who said yep, he did it to me. Salacious details followed, and they were covered without question. Where Bill Clinton had the same accusations against him, those women didn't make the mainstream media's news shows. There was no alleged in the Trump headlines. Even though these incidents happened twenty or more years ago, you'd think they were today. It allowed the 'press' to wallow in sensationalism as if it was news. Trump had made it easy for them with his loose, boorish talk on the video.

And that might even be fair-- except when Wikileaks brought out unflattering things about the Clintons, it was treated as stolen words and not worthy of even telling viewers or readers. If someone got all their news from mainstream media, they would be told it was all about Russia trying to sabotage our election. Don't confuse your little heads with trying to find out what had been in those emails. We'd tell you if it mattered... So they ignore the Enquirer story but if it was against Trump, we know they would not.

News media people not only donated to Clinton but also slanted their headlines to make Trump look even more dastardly. Now he does help them out with his loose talk and lack of focus, but even when he doesn't, they make those headlines look as bigoted, misogynist, etc. as they can. How many people bother to read the actual stories?

What's going on? We have a media that seems determined to only tell Americans what they think they should know. Often they go off on a story like kneeling for the Anthem to cover up other stories that might actually matter. I think they managed to divert attention to something like Benghazi when the real story of interest, in terms of a leader, is why the US became involved in the Libyan civil war, why the Obama administration, encouraged by Hillary as Secretary of State, backed rebels to destabilize a sovereign nation. Another question has been raised as to whether it involved guns to Syrian rebels that ended up in the hands of ISIS? Benghazi was a tragic event, but the whole issue of our involvement in Libya is a question of judgment, not bad luck. Sometimes it looks like Republicans also like to divert attention from the real issues, but should the media be helping either major party do this?

Mainstream media outlets have more or less ignored [Standing Rock and the Native American protests]. The few reporters who have tried to cover the story have been arrested and threatened with long jail sentences. On the other hand, the Malheur takeover got a lot of coverage. Anyone who thinks about it a bit can probably figure out why. The thing is for me it's led to less trust of the mainstream media.

There is an agenda in the news today, and it's not to tell us what happened. It's to indoctrinate and manipulate us to think what they want us to think. With major mergers like AT&T buying Time Warner, fewer and fewer people control not only the news but entertainment. Universities, through lucrative grants, are often indoctrinated also with the 'proper' view on like economics. Who is behind this? Not likely the Clintons, as they obey their masters, who pay them handsomely and remain in the shadows. Hillary didn't get paid those big bucks for speeches without some expectation of return.

The following is a thoughtful link on what has been stirred up; but unlike its author, I wouldn't blame this all on Trump. It's been here since Obama got elected-- and before. Media thrives on anger and fear. Never forget that when you give it time in your life. The problem is-- how do we keep track of what is actually happening and more importantly find out why?

What disturbs me is what can we do about it? It's not like we get to vote on fair and balanced news coverage. When the news says what we want to hear, is that all we care about? Just remember-- next time it might go against our interests (frankly, it already does) and we won't be so happy at the manipulation and limited coverage when it's our ox being gored.


Harold/AQ said...

Of course, you're right, and I have no idea what to do about it. Ever since News Departments were lumped in with Entertainment Divisions it's been about ratings and ad sells, and news be damned.
I still browse for news from offshore providers and bloggers, but the nature of man is we experience and relate things through our own filters. Especially when it comes to commentary - which I usually wish they'd leave out - it seems that inevitably the bias of the reporter must show through. I wish they'd put the camera on the subject and let me be the judge but that's not why they pay a commentator so I'm going to have him or her telling what they think I saw and heard.
So we see the lurid played over and over ad nauseum and we see and hear nothing that might offend advertisers. Serious mindful viewers aren't really their target demographic anyway.

Rain Trueax said...

Yes, and it takes a lot to get beyond them, Harold. Like how many Americans have read the wikileaks to judge for themselves whether they matter? A few and they are not so thrilled with the Clintons gaining more power. Some of us will have to vote for her anyway, based on the issues, but at least we do know. Many don't want to know.

joared said...

I think a lot of news media caters to a different level of viewers than they once did before news departments began to be expected to be profit makers, too. Many other factors come into play, also, but, to some extent, the media is also responding to what much of today's populace wants. I don't think a lot of people want to spend much time engaged in critical thinking.

Rain Trueax said...

Which explains the 60 second soundbites. In the case of this election though, they've gone beyond that to deliberately weight their stories. For those on the left that might seem great. But news should not do that whether you like it or not. They are assuming if people truly understand all the ways the Clintons have profited from their public life and private foundation that they might not vote for her. I think they might given the alternative but at least they would know what they were getting. As it stands, she says right wing conspiracy and lefties close their eyes. The revelations of how Bill and Hillary got those huge speaking fees from those who would want favors in the future should be taken into account when voting. The mainstream media has no right to put out all the bad on the one side and ignore it on the other.