Media: You Can’t Handle the Truth Sep07

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Media: You Can’t Handle the Truth

Yes, I’m back!  After a little Summer break, this blogging momma is ready for Election Season!  Hopefully you all enjoyed last week’s Republican National Convention as well as this week’s Democratic National Convention!  I will be commenting on the two candidate speeches via my Facebook page, if you’d like to follow along.

 

Earlier this week, I read through Andrew Cohen’s piece, Why Do Americans Hate the Media?, from The Atlantic.  I have often thought about why I am so frustrated with the media, but it’s good to hear that I’m not alone.  As I mentioned in my last post, much of mainstream media solidly leans to the left – from the smiling anchors at Good Morning America to the goodnight crew at Nightline.  But do I feel at ease and well informed after watching a more conservative leaning Fox News program?  No.  Why?  Because both sides are clearly biased and editorializing a significant portion of their content.  So much so that I find myself wondering what parts are true and which parts are spin. 

What ever happened to the idea of journalism as reporting the facts with no commentary?  When I was growing up, it seemed like the News section was for facts and the Editorial section was for opinions. The readers or viewers knew what they were getting and could form their own opinions.  Unfortunately, the modern media has polarized itself so aggressively, America is completely disenchanted with the entire enterprise.

Mr. Cohen argues that the news media has jumped into bed with politicians and their organizations and sees their political affiliation as part of their news “brand”.  To summarize, he blames the high level of promotion and schmoozing at events like the Republican and Democratic National Conventions:

By hosting these parties, by marketing their product, by branding their coverage, by buying into the concept of the politician as celebrity, the “watchdogs” are essentially saying to their flock: “Look at how well connected we are with the wolves we are here to protect you against!”

I only partially agree with his view on this because I think it’s important for there to be venues where news media and politicians can interact.  It’s harder to write a scathing article or tell a lie about someone that you’ve met face to face.  The same is true when working with someone – you are more willing to find solutions or compromises when there is a personal connection.  I think there would be a lot less gridlock in Washington DC if our politicians were willing to be more “human” and less ideologically polarized.

The real issue at the heart of why Americans hate the media is that much of the media and political figures have lost their moral compasseswe don’t believe we can trust them.  This is evident in the growing number of political “fact checking” organizations out there (FactCheck.org, Politifact.com, The Fact Checker, just to name a few), sifting through TV ads, speeches, debates, and press releases. There is no shortage of manipulated (or even invented) statistics, quotations taken out of context, or shamelessly hypocritical attacks coming from many of our politicians. There was a time when the News media served the purpose of fact checking.  Not so anymore, apparently.  In the race to “break” the story first or capitalize on a controversy, reporters would rather ask for forgiveness later than “waste” time verifying facts now.  And don’t forget about that political “brand” they are trying to support.

For Christians, the Bible has a lot to say about lying or hiding the truth.  “A false witness will not go unpunished, and he who breathes out lies will perish.”  Proverbs 19:9.  “Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another.”  Ephesians 4:25.  Unfortunately, not everyone is playing by God’s rules.  Distorting the truth is simply a means to an end for many people. And because we live in a fallen world, these people often succeed.

With Election Season in full swing, I am going to start praying for those members of the media who chose their professions with an honorable commitment to the truth, that God would bless their work and that the truth would be shared and heard by many.  I am also going to pray for the politicians who chose to run for office because they truly wanted to improve our country, our freedoms, and the lives of Americans.  I pray that God would give them a vision of His Will for our country and grant them victories as they battle for what is right.  I hope that you will join me in lifting up these men and women who are certainly in a lonely minority.