The Main Stream Media's March Toward Irrelevance

Prudent information consumers quiescently acknowledge that the daily platter of world events often served us even by the best of media sources, consists of, at best, an incomplete diet. Unfortunately this diet has steadily become unhealthier and less adequate, given the curious mutation of today's Main Stream Media from what once (very long ago) was counted upon as a reliable source of information, into strictly a venue through which ideologies wage battle.

This present scourge of shameless bias in the MSM tends to rear its ugly head whenever there is a frenzied immersion into a particular story -- and a conspicuous and unexplained dearth of interest and serious analysis of other stories, or sometimes different facets of the same story which arguably possess equal or greater import. A cursory review of the vast differences in treatment from the MSM between the Sarah Palin resignation and the Sotomayor hearings provides an eloquent sampling of this peculiar syndrome.

Unfortunately an inwardly harbored bias is not always easily detected without the help of some candid prompting from external forces; personal introspection is of little help, unless one is thus persuaded to admit its presence in our own judgment. And even then it involves the further step of seeking to correct it, which most MSM reporters are naturally reluctant to take, as it implies that they have not lived up to the most basic expectation of their vocation, namely honesty. Such honesty, when authentic, is what traditionally kept them from being tempted to clutter their dispatches with random editorial musings.

Most emphatically, news reporters should not be in the business of dispensing opinions. Not least of all because most information outlets already devote whole sections to that healthy form of free expression. But mainly because the masses still depend on the MSM to provide an undiluted account of affairs to which they would otherwise have very little if any access at all.

Proponents of the Fairness Doctrine disingenuously point to this malaise as legitimate grounds for advancing the dubious necessity of compulsory balance in reporting. The latter is the less honorable cousin of coerced charity -- another malformed offspring of today's tolerance movement. But both are highly injurious to the cherished freedom of private ideological affiliation, and not nearly as effective as the voluntary broadening of one's mind, availed of an unprejudiced conscience.

Coerced so called "fairness" in a democracy is no substitute for free, unvarnished reporting. Unlike the former, the latter is arguably more hospitable to serious explorations of alternative perspectives. It is honesty, not intimidation, that today's MSM is in dire need of. As a corollary to this pressing need, it is vital to the proper functioning of a free society that media outlets also operate independent of the system of governance which they monitor.

Yet the MSM may collectively decide -- as it appears to have done in the era of Obama -- that they do not need to abide by this principle. If so, they should also remember that bias is a two-edged sword, and -- barring some type of comprehensive reformation -- one upon which it is destined to mortally impale itself. Mainly because the Press can no longer call itself free when it chooses to enter into bondage with a partisan polity, which is one step short of becoming a full-fledged advocate of the system which instead it is called to diligently keep on vigil.  

Once this has fully become the pattern, the press will have no moral obligation to report the unadulterated facts, and will be guided only by its own ideological bias, which will inevitably prevent it from discerning the folly of thinking that it alone has the prerogative to decide which facts must be given an airing and which ought to be omitted.

For obvious reasons, this would be antithetical to a democracy. A biased media should be considered a virtual oxymoron, because it is a media that can not be trusted. When a reporter -- who is duty bound to serve society by supplying information -- cannot be trusted, his profession has, in a word, become irrelevant, and at best shares commonality with other unflattering, popular social stereotypes like the used car salesman, the ambulance chasing lawyer, and the libidinous politician.

It is a tragic state of affairs, when news reporters and journalists have forgotten -- or perhaps they were never taught in the first place -- how elementary it is to simply report nothing but the bare facts. Consider how much more complicated in comparison the same task becomes, when we work to drape the facts with our own opinions, or when reporters try to knead the same facts into conforming to a specific ideological mold.

This, in a nutshell, is the essence of bias, the terminal diagnosis of today's Main Stream Media, from which it unremittingly slouches towards a self-inflicted demise. If you listen carefully, you may even hear its last gasps as it -- slowly but surely -- dissolves into oblivion.
Prudent information consumers quiescently acknowledge that the daily platter of world events often served us even by the best of media sources, consists of, at best, an incomplete diet. Unfortunately this diet has steadily become unhealthier and less adequate, given the curious mutation of today's Main Stream Media from what once (very long ago) was counted upon as a reliable source of information, into strictly a venue through which ideologies wage battle.

This present scourge of shameless bias in the MSM tends to rear its ugly head whenever there is a frenzied immersion into a particular story -- and a conspicuous and unexplained dearth of interest and serious analysis of other stories, or sometimes different facets of the same story which arguably possess equal or greater import. A cursory review of the vast differences in treatment from the MSM between the Sarah Palin resignation and the Sotomayor hearings provides an eloquent sampling of this peculiar syndrome.

Unfortunately an inwardly harbored bias is not always easily detected without the help of some candid prompting from external forces; personal introspection is of little help, unless one is thus persuaded to admit its presence in our own judgment. And even then it involves the further step of seeking to correct it, which most MSM reporters are naturally reluctant to take, as it implies that they have not lived up to the most basic expectation of their vocation, namely honesty. Such honesty, when authentic, is what traditionally kept them from being tempted to clutter their dispatches with random editorial musings.

Most emphatically, news reporters should not be in the business of dispensing opinions. Not least of all because most information outlets already devote whole sections to that healthy form of free expression. But mainly because the masses still depend on the MSM to provide an undiluted account of affairs to which they would otherwise have very little if any access at all.

Proponents of the Fairness Doctrine disingenuously point to this malaise as legitimate grounds for advancing the dubious necessity of compulsory balance in reporting. The latter is the less honorable cousin of coerced charity -- another malformed offspring of today's tolerance movement. But both are highly injurious to the cherished freedom of private ideological affiliation, and not nearly as effective as the voluntary broadening of one's mind, availed of an unprejudiced conscience.

Coerced so called "fairness" in a democracy is no substitute for free, unvarnished reporting. Unlike the former, the latter is arguably more hospitable to serious explorations of alternative perspectives. It is honesty, not intimidation, that today's MSM is in dire need of. As a corollary to this pressing need, it is vital to the proper functioning of a free society that media outlets also operate independent of the system of governance which they monitor.

Yet the MSM may collectively decide -- as it appears to have done in the era of Obama -- that they do not need to abide by this principle. If so, they should also remember that bias is a two-edged sword, and -- barring some type of comprehensive reformation -- one upon which it is destined to mortally impale itself. Mainly because the Press can no longer call itself free when it chooses to enter into bondage with a partisan polity, which is one step short of becoming a full-fledged advocate of the system which instead it is called to diligently keep on vigil.  

Once this has fully become the pattern, the press will have no moral obligation to report the unadulterated facts, and will be guided only by its own ideological bias, which will inevitably prevent it from discerning the folly of thinking that it alone has the prerogative to decide which facts must be given an airing and which ought to be omitted.

For obvious reasons, this would be antithetical to a democracy. A biased media should be considered a virtual oxymoron, because it is a media that can not be trusted. When a reporter -- who is duty bound to serve society by supplying information -- cannot be trusted, his profession has, in a word, become irrelevant, and at best shares commonality with other unflattering, popular social stereotypes like the used car salesman, the ambulance chasing lawyer, and the libidinous politician.

It is a tragic state of affairs, when news reporters and journalists have forgotten -- or perhaps they were never taught in the first place -- how elementary it is to simply report nothing but the bare facts. Consider how much more complicated in comparison the same task becomes, when we work to drape the facts with our own opinions, or when reporters try to knead the same facts into conforming to a specific ideological mold.

This, in a nutshell, is the essence of bias, the terminal diagnosis of today's Main Stream Media, from which it unremittingly slouches towards a self-inflicted demise. If you listen carefully, you may even hear its last gasps as it -- slowly but surely -- dissolves into oblivion.