I just saw another proclamation that says because it’s Bernie Sanders this clip or that that would never be shown. I watched the clips and I’ve seen it before enough that I can say it with Bernie Sanders. Why do I bring this up? Too many people judge the media based on their perceptions rather than what is really happening. That makes facts less power a and gives opinion more power. I see it time and time again. Bernie supporters think he isn’t covered. If “positive” news is relayed the person who does the relaying is in the bag for Hillary. I’ve seen the opposite said as well. There is a strong reaction when someone in the media relays facts. These days they are berated, called horrible names, threatened, sometime with rape or death. I’ve noticed one tangible example. Political journalists are very reluctant to say that Bernie Sanders is functionally out of the race. They note that Hillary Clinton stayed in the race in 2008 but they won’t tell you she was leading in the popular vote at that time. This is my opinion but it feels like fear and reluctance to get a negative reaction drives a skewing of what and how the news that is reported.
There is also a clear skew to the coverage of Donald Trump that is unhealthy for the country. The media gripped upon his bigoted statements and outraged him right to the Republican nomination. Rather than focusing on facts and refusing to show the racist, xenophobic, misogynist remarks they played them consistently and expounded on how awful they were. There was little airtime or space for anyone else. When he says that “we must deal with the Muslim problem” they cover the rightful outrage at the statement but they don’t dig into the real question. What is the Muslim problem? We all know about ISIS but how does that relate to banning 1.2 billion people from the country. What problem is that solving? More white men are involved in mass shootings that fit under the description of terrorism in the U.S. than any Muslims.
Other clear examples, four people died in Benghazi and their lives have essentially been valued above all other American lives by the Republicans. As have the few others that the Republicans have deemed worthy. I say that not to diminish those lives, but they should not have a greater value either. They have spent millions for no true reason. It is clear that their lives could not be saved. It is also clear that there was not a cover-up. The worst thing that happened was that it wasn’t clear if a video may or may not been a direct cause of the attacks. That is it. A little boy playing in a park was shot by police officers. There is clear evidence that he was not given time or space to put down his toy gun. Demonstrations and outrage and the facts that his death were not given the justice that his murder was due. In both cases the media should focus on the facts. In either case, and in all cases when someone comes in and simply lies about something they should be called on it.
Another example, this one that relates to science which frequently these days is treated with the same importance as opinion. Accelerated climate change has been treated with a remarkable lack of regard to facts. From the beginning science was ignored and scientists were accused of making up a global crisis for research dollars. There weren’t many people who questioned that base assumption. There was such a voracious political response against climate change, and the fact that it required a federally led response, that it was effectively diminished. Any possible response was delayed and now we are left with a changed world. Facts were ignored. People with no scientific background were given equal footing with scientists. Science became a “bipartisan issue”. Not the policy, the science itself. It snowed, there were snowballs on the floor of the Senate, it was rarely refuted with science and facts. Little distinction was made between the science and the policy, opinions and lies.
How many times have we seen that? It is hard to think of a time where facts and opinions and flat out lies are not mixed together. It’s not impossible. Rachel Maddow reporting on Flint, MI is an example of good reporting that was focused on the issues. She says it well that we need to support local newspapers, or what she is actually saying is that we need to support news. We can’t ask for all of this for free and also that we need to hold our media accountable.
When someone says that President Obama is not respected around the world, maybe we should believe the world and not the person whose opinion that is. When someone calls the President an emperor or a dictator because of all of his executive actions maybe the fact that he has fewer executive actions than any other President in our lives should be the actual truth. It goes on and on.
We need to make the facts important and not let our feelings and interpretations of what is being reported overtake those facts. Don’t threaten someone for presenting facts. Don’t try to pressure them to say something else. Hold the media to a standard that is facts and not the “truth that you want to hear.” We have to stop the crazy spiral we are in that gave birth to a Donald Trump who can say anything.