Skip to comments.Term Limits for the Media
Posted on 08/19/2012 5:55:21 AM PDT by Kaslin
Years ago, working for a pro-term limits group, I was asked by a reporter what was meant by a clumsily-worded statement in our press packet announcing that we provide information about term limits for the media.
The reporter was fixated on the phrase term limits for the media and, well, sorta panicked. Term limits are popular, after all. I jovially explained that for people laboring in the media we would provide information — that is, studies and press releases and backgrounders and stuff . . . about term limits for politicians.
In other words: relax, reporters; we werent launching a campaign to limit your tenure on the beat.
Sometimes, when witnessing political agendas getting in the way of decent journalism, I recall the specific discomfort of that one reporter to the very idea of term-limiting the media, extrapolate that state of mind, and . . . enjoy.
Two months ago, I noted in my Common Sense e-letter that much of the news media and left-of-center political punditry didnt much seem to care about their ability — or the publics right — to see the tens of thousands of Fast & Furious documents Attorney General Eric Holder still refuses to make public.
Whether Congresss request for documents is purely partisan and politically motivated or completely justifiable on the merits, how does a journalist not want to see the material? Whether one thinks the information will be of little import or amount to an ammo dump full of smoking guns, how does a reporter not want to see it? Whether the gun-walking operations operated by the federal government were mostly effective police work or the stupidest arming of ones enemies ever imagined, how does a columnist not want to see the actual emails and memos and other documents associated with a program that went so badly astray . . . or with any cover-up?
We need to find out the facts. The public has a right to know.
So we can make better decisions regarding our government going forward.
Isnt all this loosely associated with the purpose of journalism?
Not according to MSNBCs Chris Matthews, whose response to the battle over executive branch transparency wasnt to urge the release of the documents, but to suggest that those interested in seeing them were racist. Because President Barack Obama and General Holder are African-Americans.
For this or another reason, much of the media has effectively ignored the story.
Then, last week, the journalistic maxim if it bleeds it leads was mysteriously repealed. Its already been a blockbuster summer for news, what with several highly publicized mass shootings. Now comes a gunman with a political ax to grind, smack dab in the middle of the great culture wars that drive the 24-hour news cycle, walking into the capital office of a powerful political group; he opens fire.
Floyd Lee Corkins II entered the lobby of the Family Research Council headquarters, made a statement about not liking the groups policy prescriptions, and reportedly shot Leo Johnson, whose duties include functioning as the groups security guard. Johnson, though hit in the arm, subdued Corkins and prevented a potential mass murder. Not only a great security guard, but a real hero.
As if the story werent interesting enough, it turns out that Corkins had spent the last six months volunteering at the D.C. Center for the LGBT Community, an outfit politically at odds with the Family Research Council, which opposes same-sex marriage and believes homosexual behavior to be sinful. Along with the gun, Corkins had 15 Chick-fil-A sandwiches in his bag.
Its not that there was zero coverage for a news story combining gun violence, the guts of our political culture wars and an honest-to-goodness hero, but . . .
The story got 20 seconds on The CBS Evening News. Still revving from their Olympic coverage, NBCs Nightly News spit out all the details in just 17. The story led off ABCs World News for two-and-a-half minutes. But none of the three senior TV networks reported the information about Corkinss political connections, leaving any such motivations vague.
Two stories in the Washington Post on the days following the shooting made no mention of any of the summers other shootings, as if the incident ought not be considered when covering other such mega-news events.
Thankfully, there was no death count at the Family Research Council shooting. Maybe thats why the media coverage seemed so understated. But, then again, it is hard not to wonder to what degree partisan motivations, the press playing politics, might have resulted in reduced coverage for a crime committed against what they may view as a politically incorrect victim.
Of course, the political affiliations of deranged murderers, or just wannabe killers, are not usually very instructive. One bad apple doesnt spoil the whole bunch. The point isnt to play up the shooters to smear the innocent, but for major media outlets to report the news evenhandedly, including violence committed against their political opponents, and to pursue the truth of what our government is doing, such as on Fast & Furious, even when the outcome might not further their various political agendas.
As much as they might deserve it sometimes, we cannot constitutionally term-limit media folks, whether they be journalists, TV reporters, or mere talking heads. And I wouldnt want to — for one, they dont really have terms. Instead, we can push reform as customers by watching, listening and reading those profit-seeking media companies that do a better job.
It would help if Republicans who appeared in the MSM took a more active role in calling the media out for their blatant bias. Some people already do this (Newt, John Sunnunu, etc.) but the mere fact that the four debate moderators are all far-left fanatics is an indication that the GOP is actively allowing this to continue. The media supports the Left and we allow it.
The problem is that a strong majority of supposedly "Republican" or even faintly Conservative media-ites are just token alternate-viewpoint flunkies for the Liberal MSM.
They meekly provide the "loyal opposition" sometimes stepping up to the front line and shake their shields in mock battle. But they NEVER follow through by throwing the spear. They covet their daily/weekly 'token opposition' role on TV and newsprint too much to do any serious battle - [gasp!] they might lose their gig!
When was the last time you saw one of these word-warriors ever step up to the line, face the enemy, shake his shield, scream and shout, then turnabout and lift his kilt to show his ass to the enemy - then run full tilt to do real ideological battle. Hardly ever, if that.
“The media supports the Left...”
Cutting to the chase, the Republicans need to realize that the MSM is an effective oligopoly of about a dozen corporations that control newspapers, TV, movies, magazines, books, radio, a big chunk of the Internet, music, and the newswires.
And this oligopoly is as bad, or worse, than a monopoly.
As a basic business lesson, large corporations of this kind tend to either “vertical integration”, controlling all production and distribution segments of a particular media, in this case; or “horizontal integration”, in which they have a large number of ‘parallel’ but different businesses, like some radio stations, some book publishing, and some Internet.
But these oligopoly corporations do both. The end result are “pyramids of control”, with perhaps a dozen people totally in control of content both in their primary media, but also in all their conglomerate media.
And so a dozen companies, each with a dozen board members, means that 150 people or so determine what 350 million people can see and hear. And if they politically and philosophically agree with each other, the level of bias in the MSM is ridiculous.
Granted this is a simplified view of the situation, but one that asks the simple question: Is it time to break up the MSM?
- O'Sullivan's First Law:
- All organizations that are not actually right-wing will over time become left-wing. . . . The reason is, of course, that people who staff such bodies tend to be the sort who don't like private profit, business, making money, the current organization of society, and, by extension, the Western world. At which point Michelss Iron Law of Oligarchy takes over and the rest follows.
- IRON LAW OF OLIGARCHY:
- First defined by German sociologist Robert Michels (1876-1936), this refers to the inherent tendency of all complex organizations, including radical or socialist political parties and labour unions, to develop a ruling clique of leaders with interests in the organization itself rather than in its official aims. These leaders, Michels argued, came to desire leadership and its status and rewards more than any commitment to goals. Inevitably, their influence was conservative, seeking to preserve and enhance the organization and not to endanger it by any radical action. Michels based his argument on the simple observation that day-to-day running of a complex organization by its mass membership was impossible. Therefore, professional full-time leadership and direction was required. In theory the leaders of the organization were subject to control by the mass membership, through delegate conferences and membership voting, but, in reality, the leaders were in the dominant position. They possessed the experience and expertise in running the organization, they came to control the means of communication within the organization and they monopolized the public status of representing the organization. It became difficult for the mass membership to provide any effective counterweight to this professional, entrenched, leadership. Michels also argued that these inherent organizational tendencies were strengthened by a mass psychology of leadership dependency, he felt that people had a basic psychological need to be led.
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