Originally published in October of 2013
With the already caustic and demoralizing rhetoric that is coming out of Washington being elevated to (hard to believe) new levels via the Shutdown, a short departure from healthcare policy discussion seemed like it could be in order. I copied the video below off of the Michael Smerconish web site. If you haven’t caught Michael’s program on Sirius/XM’s POTUS channel, it’s definitely worth a listen.
I don’t know who compiled the video, but it’s a short and poignant demonstration of the role media plays today in perverting the exercise of constructive and productive political dialogue and debate in the interest of entertaining us (i.e., the nature of their business model).
We could argue until the cows come home whether election campaigns drove media toward spiteful irreverence or the media has been driven by candidates’ inherent egos and desire for power – but either way the result has been manifested in the most threatening domestic scourge this country has faced since slavery. I know that’s a bold statement, but watch the video and just watch what’s happening right now in Washington – that’s right, nothing!
What makes the media threat especially troubling is that it is like a cancer: you can’t just start hacking away at the parts you don’t like without risking a primary tenet of democracy, that being of course the freedom of speech. But in what I think is a sardonic twist of irony, we seem to have the same culpability empowering the media that we have in empowering stagnant governance: in both cases way too many of us are too damn lazy to exert the personal effort needed to make a difference. We complain about government but don’t take the time to be informed voters – or don’t vote at all (roughly 4 in 10 eligible voters didn’t vote in the 2012 election). And we complain about media programming, but somebody must be watching and/or listening to warrant advertising expenditures supporting that business model, right?
So here’s what I would like to offer. Regardless of what side of the aisle your allegiance lies – or wherever your political beliefs may fall along the ideological spectrum – I believe just about all of us are sincerely interested in the truth. And I think most of us agree as well that modern media programming in the name of entertaining us has done more to obfuscate the truth than help us find it.
Part of the blame lies with the media because they seek to package facts in entertaining sound bites. I am reminded of a quote by the late author, Shelby Foote, who once said that, “people make a grievous error thinking that a list of facts is the truth – facts are just the bare bones out of which truth is made.” If you seek the truth, don’t ever assume that it can be given to you even if you ask in the nicest way possible.
A good part of the blame we want to put on the media belongs to us. We need to take ownership for defining the truth and not abdicate that responsibility to broadcast journalism because we prefer to be entertained. Without wanting to wax metaphysically, truth only exists because of the individual’s desire and willingness to find it – not because someone else has already created it for us.