Friday, August 29, 2008
Part of me says, “Just flush ‘em away”
by Larry Geller
I wanted to write something about the meeting the other night with Bernie Lunzer, president of the newspaper union. I will try to do that tomorrow.
Today, though, I was thinking of how much our wayward press tries to influence the elections. Here we are, ending a disastrous eight years of George Bush, who is leaving us with a legacy of war, death and an incomprehensibly high national debt to repay. A great deal of “credit” for those eight years must go to the press. Just a minor example: Al Gore never said he invented the Internet, but the press was eager to repeat the story. WMD, the drumbeat to war, the lies of the New York Times and other papers, set us up to accept Cheney/Bush’s Iraq war.
The Times still keeps the faulty reporters on staff. They may not have read the mea culpa they printed. Other papers joined in cheerleading for the war. They’re still at it, and we’re still at war.
There’s plenty of work for Media Matters, FAIR, and other organizations that exist to point out the lies and inaccuracies we’re seeing in the media every day. Every single day. Let’s face it, the commercial press wants to influence our vote (we don’t let corporations vote yet, maybe they will one day).
So now it seems they are in trouble. The business model is failing as they lose advertising revenue. There are huge layoffs industrywide and shrinking news pages.
Sometimes I’m angry about that, because I believe that a vigorous and vigilant press is necessary for a thriving democracy. Sometimes I’m in denial, thinking that they’ll pull through this somehow. Sometimes I feel like accepting that we’re going to lose many of our daily newspapers because readers just want to be entertained anyway, and I watch as they invest in web entertainment sites (like Gannett’s Metromix) instead of supporting their newsrooms. Ok, kiss ‘em goodbye, it’s inevitable. No one has thought of a way out of the meltdown.
There’s even some grief involved, it’s sad watching a great institution brought low.
Denial, anger, acceptance: does this sound like a Kübler-Ross cycle going here, or what?
Today I’m in the anger phase. I say, flush ‘em away, sheet by sheet. They want McCain to be elected, and they will bias and distort the news, select and even falsify articles. Shamelessly. Just read any of the press watch sites.
As I read around the web, I notice here and there that some writers are not afraid to see our lying press go the way of the dodo. Here’s an article by economist Dean Baker:
The Post is complaining yet again that politicians are unwilling to deal with a Social Security shortfall that is first projected to hit in 2049, when John McCain will be 113 years old. To try to makes it case sound more compelling it refers to the date 2018 when the Social Security trustees project that tax revenues will first be inadequate to meet benefit payments.
Of course 2018 is completely irrelevant to the finances of the program. At that point the program is projected to have accumulated more than $5 trillion in government bonds. But the Post wants to scare readers to advance their Social Security agenda so they trot out 2018 as though it is a date that anyone needs to worry about.
The positive side of this story is that Social Security's finances look much better than the Post's. If it keeps making up scare stories about Social Security, perhaps the date of its demise will be hastened.
--Dean Baker [prospect.org, 8/25/2008]
Of course, conservatives need the Washington Post and other papers to promulgate their lies (usually the conservatives make them up and the press merely parrots them endlessly to us). Maybe this alone will keep newspapers alive in some form, though with declining advertising, it’s hard to see how that would be possible.
Which leads us to the web. If lying newspapers create websites to lie to us, who needs that? I wonder if web surfers are smart enough to realize that they are being used.