When I was younger we didn’t have social media or alternative news sources, rather we had network TV news. Channels like CNN and Fox and the local stations (channel 6 ABC Action News). They would deliver breaking news and more. We didn’t question it; we took it as truth. Looking back at the news from when I was teenager compared to now, it’s mind-boggling how they managed to get away with so much for so long.
Fun fact: 6 companies own at least 90% of all the news outlets where the world receives American news. The six are Time Warner Inc, General Electric Co., News Corp., The Walt Disney Co., and Viacom Inc. (1) Back in 1983, according to Benjamin Bagdikian, there were over 50 corporations that controlled information. (2) Shouldn’t that have worried anybody? How did this happen? We can thank President Bill Clinton and the Telecom Act of 1996. The Telecom Act in theory was supposed to foster competition among media companies; instead it allowed a massive amount of consolidation.(3)
The major media-particularly, the elite media that set the agenda that others generally follow-are corporations “selling” privileged audiences to other businesses. It would hardly come as a surprise if the picture of the world they present were to reflect the perspectives and interests of the sellers, the buyers, and the product. Concentration of ownership of the media is high and increasing. Furthermore, those who occupy managerial positions in the media, or gain status within them as commentators, belong to the same privileged elites, and might be expected to share the perceptions, aspirations, and attitudes of their associates, reflecting their own class interests as well. Journalists entering the system are unlikely to make their way unless they conform to these ideological pressures, generally by internalizing the values; it is not easy to say one thing and believe another, and those who fail to conform will tend to be weeded out by familiar mechanisms. — Noam Chomsky, “Necessary Illusions” (4)
In a sense Noam Chomsky was dead on about how the news on your TV was more a bastardized version of commercials and bias. Why? Because the news doesn’t care about how unfair or how biased it is. I want you to look at CNN, Fox News or MSNBC, look at 6ABC or whatever your local news station is. I want you to count how many stories actually show a semblance of actual opinion or find actual criticism about current world issues or even coverage of current world issues. You’d have a better time finding that pot of gold at the end of a rainbow.
Let’s look at the most widely covered and blaringly obvious example of credibility loss and outright disinformation of an issue; the Palestinian conflict of recent months. Most MSM (yes I’m using buzzwords here) claim that Hamas was often times the instigator or acted even worse than the Israeli Defense Force. If you’d watched the news on TV, you’d have thought everything from human shields to hidden weapons caches and tunnels were being used to facilitate terror against the noble citizens of Israel. Boy were these guys wrong: there’s overwhelming evidence showing none of those things even remotely occurring.
The MSM decided to gloss over anything that shows Israel in a negative light, or even try to fix or retract anything that had been proven wrong later. The biggest item was the removal of NBC reporter Ayman Mohyeldin from covering the Israeli offensive. This was done without any reasoning whatsoever or according to NBC officials “security concerns” (5). Though he was returned, still the fact it was done led to speculation of bias.
Going to domestic matters and media credibility, let’s turn to Fox News and its coverage of a galvanizing incident: The Michael Brown shooting in Ferguson, Missouri. Most accounts concur that a police officer shot an unarmed young man. Fox News ran the fact that the officer involved in the shooting suffered a broken orbital fracture as a result of an attack by Michael Brown. This supported the narrative of Brown attacking the cop and it being a justified shooting (6). Here’s where it gets interesting: the day after CNN actually blew a hole in that narrative/injury item saying there was no valid evidence that the police officer suffered those wounds (7).
So why did Fox News lie about this? Was it for ratings? Was it to serve an agenda? This isn’t the only thing though — not only did they run with a false report of the officers injuries, but they try to smear the deceased’s name by showing a video purportedly showing where Brown was a suspect in a cigar store robbery (8). So what interest does it serve for Fox News to do these actions? What did this kid do to have Fox News release a video which actually tried to make a justification for the police officer?
Since the mainstream media can’t be trusted to tell the truth without bias or without a hidden agenda, how do people actually stay informed? Recent polls show that Americans have the lowest level of trust in the mainstream media (nearly 18% trusted television news) (9).
So how do a growing number of Americans in this day and age stay informed? Through use of social media and independent journalism. Independent journalism rose to counter the main narratives of big corporate news. Since there’s no accountability to a corporate entity or the big 6, there’s no bias or personal agenda, in which reporters and news people have to twist facts to fit the bigger picture.
Another possibility is the rise of social media such as Twitter and Facebook. Here we can be living witnesses to what actually happens. The biggest recent examples were the Twitter coverage of the Palestine conflict and the Ferguson protests in Missouri. Sometimes Twitter outpaced MSM; often Twitter conflicted with the narratives made by all the conventional resources. One can only imagine what could have changed if this technology was available through fundamental points in our history.
In the end, what matters is that mainstream media, despite everything it’s done, the corporate sponsors, the spin zones, the outright awkward political commentaries. From everything to pundits and attractive looking people on the news media, the breaking news graphics to the outright lies told and the misdirection thrown left and right. The mainstream media is a dinosaur and what killed it was technology and the human desire to learn the truth and to see through lies.
As for my personal opinion, my advice is to question everything, wherever you dear reader get your news from, question it. You don’t even have to go and become an expert on the subject but take 5-10 minutes and look up the same article on a different source. The answers you may find might astound you.
Content posted to MyMPN open blogs is the opinion of the author alone, and should not be attributed to MintPress News.