There is no singular grip on the daily choices of what is deemed newsworthy but despite claims of fair and balanced since October 7, 1996, American media scooping and spreading of dirty politics manure, has never soiled without prejudice – even before the infamous presidential campaign of Andrew Jackson v. John Quincy Adams, there were newspaper duels between our second president, and the newspaper proxies of our third.
One major change, however: those who decide what is seen and heard by, We the People, have evolved from local newspaper publishers to Wall Street titans, and their moneyed, and not so silent partners, framing both content and presentation.
Who do you think chooses what we see, hear and read?
Do you believe Dick Morris, Megyn Kelly and Rush Limbaugh answers would differ from Arianna Huffington, Rob Kall, Joy Reid, Chuck Todd and Chris Matthews?
Noticed the universal deaf ear media pros employ when anyone from a POTUS wannabe to a multi-million-dollar coincidence explanation, challenging the 2016 reality show of, if it bleeds ratings it’s headlined with the efficiency of a Rachel Maddow research team?
In my forty plus year career in media and arts, I’ve worn several hats, but as a director, talk show host and radio news producer, I, like most, attempt to inhale the hourly avalanche of information from a millennium of sources, then choose not only what is aired, posted, shared and published, but guests, questions, even use of adjectives, adverbs – everything from pre to post production.
I host two radio talk shows, one with a Conservative audience and one with Liberal listeners – believing not only in the necessity for, but the pragmatism of, United We Stand.
To the degree we talk, listen, comment and relate to differing POVs, we survive and thrive as an informed, multi-cultural, society. Nonetheless, whether media pro or political junkie, what we read, watch and write is testimony to our upbringing, values, education, experiences and even geography — determining our politics.
Most Americans probably neither answer polls nor indulge in radical extremism. Our collective communication comfort zone probably hovers within 20% of either Left of Center (championing the equality and justice for all, including women and minorities) and Right of Center (championing less leveling the playing field through government regulations) – deserting the Center for Moderates and Independents if they so choose – and there’s the rub.
Arguably, our national derision and conflict resonate from the degree we immortalize the lie we and media professionals tell ourselves: that somehow it is solely the subject – the politics of weather, the shame of corporations, institutions and individuals profiting from mass incarceration, the denial of full citizenship rights for those who have paid their debt to society or the shooting of people who look like the Rev. Dr. William Barber and sound like Khizr Khan – that dictates what leads our 24/7 news cycle – and not an addicted audience craving another hit, nor performers chasing the redundant ambulance for a ratings high.
We deserve better, to do better and vote to be better than those, who, since The New Deal, have been festering to shatter their shadowy shield and like a mushroom cloud, rupture unity, to extinguish the promise of peace and light of human decency.
From Nixon and Reagan, to CIA GHW Bush locked and loaded by Bush/Cheney Open Carry militias — perpetuated, un-aborted, in Koch-heads Mitch McConnell & Paul Ryan — is the birther of narcissistic, misogynistic, racist products, worshipped on the tea stained altar of projecting one’s sins onto those far less treasonous.
Reason is our best defense against clichés, political ads, media hype and mob-rule making choices for us. Our power remains: only we get to choose what we think, and how our vote reflects who we choose to be.