Dirty Laundry

I make my living off the evening news
Just give me something-something I can use
People love it when you lose,
They love dirty laundry

-Don Henley

Contrary to what some would have you believe, we have not reached a nadir in American political civility. The evidence is clearly visible in newspapers and pamphlets from the time of the Revolution, through the Antebellum and Civil War eras, Reconstruction, the Gilded Age, etc., etc. But, here at the end of the first decade of the twenty-first century, there is a very real difference in the discourse today. Let me explain.

In previous times, even when significant and influential segments of the news media flouted the special status granted to them in the First Amendment and basically became house organs for the governing party of the time, there was a healthy and equally vocal segment of the same media espousing opposing opinions. Today, that paradigm is breaking down, with potentially chilling results for the Republic.

Ask the typical person to name specific elements of “the news media” today. Virtually every outlet you’ll hear mentioned shares two salient characteristics: it soldiers on today, retaining positive reputation based on accomplishments of yore; and it can be demonstrated to be biased in favor of the current occupant of the White House and his party.

Yes, news organizations are as free to express their opinions as are the rest of us. However, to dispense those opinions and advertise them as fact — we need to call them out on it.

The real problem lies in the changes in media since the dawn of the Internet era, and a bit before that to the rise of talk radio. The “traditional” or “mainstream” media, including but not limited to CBS, NBC, ABC, CNN, the New York Times, the Washington Post, and most of the other conglomerate newspaper chains, speak almost in unison. Those naive enough to believe that these media giants’ status as “mainstream” equals “truth” close themselves off to any competing claims of truth. Thus we hear numerous memes imbued with “truth” status because some hyperpartisans have stated it to be so.

Here are a couple of examples from just the last week; these are only the tip of the iceberg.

A Congressman with a legitimate argument on the veracity of the President’s claims shouts his dissent in a way lacking in decorum; he is labeled a racist, his website is hacked with impunity, and calls are made to shame him in front of the House; meantime, multiple members of Congress have been more disruptive during multiple addresses of the last President, and they were lauded for speaking truth to power. Double standard?

Just the other day, our nation’s capital witnessed what is now being revealed to have been the largest protest march in the history of our nation. Unbiased, reasonably reliable estimates have put the size of the crowd easily into six figures and near seven, well on a par with the march that our community organizer-in-chief attended a decade ago. Other counts have ranged as high as 1.5 million or even 2 million, which if true would exceed the throng that gathered in January for the Inauguration. Yet, the MSM characterized the turnout as “tens of thousands.” Uh, yeah. Like fifty tens of thousands. And I will not even go into how the dinosaur media characterized the patriots who took the time to exercise their opinion authentically. I will defer that because, thankfully, this earth is populated with more than just dinosaurs.

ACORN. Van Jones. These and other stories are all but ignored. Mark Levin, whose book topped the New York Times best-seller list for weeks, can’t even get it reviewed by the Times.

Alternative media are covering these stories, and many others, in ways the traditional ones either can’t or won’t. Talk radio covers the ideological spectrum. Conservative talkers rule the ratings, and that in itself provides a good insight into the vox populi. But progressive voices aren’t hard to find on the dial; I even took a moment to listen to a particularly venomous one last week, and no, I won’t get started on her either.

Then there’s the Internet. Thank you, Al Gore! Everyone, even your humble commentator, has a voice. The discerning consumer of news has the full range of political perspective, left to right and in-between, available. And that’s the way it should be. Let the best ideas win.

But let’s not allow the MSM to dictate the terms of the conversation in demonstrably biased ways that seriously distort reality.
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