Mainstream Media's Paradise Lost

Over the past ten years it has become painfully obvious that the mainstream media's level of vituperation directed at conservatives has gone up exponentially while their willingness to accommodate and turn a blind eye towards the devastating policies of the Left (in particular President Obama) has never been higher.  There has always been a left-of-center bias among the vast majority of the media; however their actions over this period are not fully explained by that predisposition.

While the media has always been willing to go after and embarrass conservatives or Republicans as well as belittle their thinking, there was much more balance (in relative terms) earlier than there has been since 2001.  What has happened to cause such a shift?

Life, particularly since the 1950's and the dawn of celebrity journalism, has been very good for those initiated into the media fraternity.  The salaries were exceedingly good; book deals were always available as were interviews and participation on a variety of television programs, and celebrity status was particularly heady and just around the corner if one could pull off another Watergate expose.  The rush to journalism school became a flood for those who, while claiming they were entering into the profession in order to save the world, were seeking the status and income that supposedly came with the sheepskin.

One can imagine the amount of self-importance and narcissism that come with the access and ability to affect the culture and political life of a country while living the "good life."   As virtually all the newsrooms and media outlets were dominated by those of like-minded philosophies, all one had to do was acquiesce to group-think and be hired.

But the one constant of mankind is that change and adaptation is the foundation of all human activity.  Journalism and the electronic media were not exempt from that possibility; yet the members of this elite gathering were unwilling to acknowledge that any upheaval could happen within their private fiefdom. They were disinclined to understand that their inbred arrogance and bias would initiate a revolution in the dissemination of news and opinion in the United States.

First came national talk radio, exemplified by Rush Limbaugh, who was belittled and ignored as being irrelevant.  However he soon spawned hundreds of others who now dominate the AM airwaves and who among them attract a listening audience of nearly fifty million.  Then Fox News started up in 1995.  That too was dismissed and ignored (certainly that right-wing bunch could never compete with CNN).  Today Fox News so dominates not only the cable universe but the reporting of news on television in general that they beat their cable competitors combined by more than a 2 to 1 margin.

Then came the coup-de-grace, the internet and the social media outlets.  The average citizen could now access the news and opinion (regardless of philosophical bent) without the filter of the mainstream media.  The variety of outlets and use of the social media sites have grown by leaps and bounds, and with them the emergence of such movements as the Tea Party.

In that environment, the world has shifted beneath the feet of the old established media, and such icons as the New York Times, the Washington Post among a myriad of other newspapers have seen erosion in their readership by over 34 per cent.  News magazines no longer command an audience.  Newsweek was recently sold for a dollar and Time Magazine is a skeleton of its former self.  The legendary status of the network nightly news and Sunday talk shows has completely eroded as they have lost nearly half of their viewers.  Virtually all these entities are struggling to stay afloat and are doing so by drastic cost cutting and staff reductions.
 
With all this wreckage, the old career path and its attendant income and celebrity is no more.  The old lions of the media are now forced to work for much less, or move to predominantly left-wing internet sites and appear on unwatched shows on MSNBC.  The new graduates of journalism schools are faced with few or no prospects of the future they envisioned.

In the minds of many members of the mainstream media, the fault for this drastic turn of events lies with the conservatives and those ignorant masses in fly-over country, not with themselves.  Therefore they lash out more than ever against conservatives and Republicans.  As their basic mindset is to look to Washington D.C. as the fountainhead of all solutions, many expect their dilemma to be solved by those in command within the Beltway.  In order to ingratiate themselves with the existing political power structure and maintain their Left leaning audience, they are more willing than ever to say outrageous and unproven things regarding their perceived adversary.

Thus more than ever the mainstream media is disposed to move with a herd mentality as they did with the vitriolic attacks on George Bush or are presently doing in protecting Barack Obama regardless of his disastrous policies or personal failings.  Many voluntarily parrot the same phrasing and talking points delivered to them by either the titular heads of what is left of the media or the Democratic Party.  It can be expected that this will continue throughout the 2012 presidential campaign.  Nothing will be more important than the re-election of President Obama as the vast majority of the old media are convinced that now, more than ever; it is their jobs and livelihood at stake. There is no independence of thought when one's standard of living is at risk.

There is no good end to this downward spiral except to begin objectively reporting news and labeling opinion as opinion...something that has yet to penetrate the psyche of the media in this hyper-partisan nation they helped create.
Over the past ten years it has become painfully obvious that the mainstream media's level of vituperation directed at conservatives has gone up exponentially while their willingness to accommodate and turn a blind eye towards the devastating policies of the Left (in particular President Obama) has never been higher.  There has always been a left-of-center bias among the vast majority of the media; however their actions over this period are not fully explained by that predisposition.

While the media has always been willing to go after and embarrass conservatives or Republicans as well as belittle their thinking, there was much more balance (in relative terms) earlier than there has been since 2001.  What has happened to cause such a shift?

Life, particularly since the 1950's and the dawn of celebrity journalism, has been very good for those initiated into the media fraternity.  The salaries were exceedingly good; book deals were always available as were interviews and participation on a variety of television programs, and celebrity status was particularly heady and just around the corner if one could pull off another Watergate expose.  The rush to journalism school became a flood for those who, while claiming they were entering into the profession in order to save the world, were seeking the status and income that supposedly came with the sheepskin.

One can imagine the amount of self-importance and narcissism that come with the access and ability to affect the culture and political life of a country while living the "good life."   As virtually all the newsrooms and media outlets were dominated by those of like-minded philosophies, all one had to do was acquiesce to group-think and be hired.

But the one constant of mankind is that change and adaptation is the foundation of all human activity.  Journalism and the electronic media were not exempt from that possibility; yet the members of this elite gathering were unwilling to acknowledge that any upheaval could happen within their private fiefdom. They were disinclined to understand that their inbred arrogance and bias would initiate a revolution in the dissemination of news and opinion in the United States.

First came national talk radio, exemplified by Rush Limbaugh, who was belittled and ignored as being irrelevant.  However he soon spawned hundreds of others who now dominate the AM airwaves and who among them attract a listening audience of nearly fifty million.  Then Fox News started up in 1995.  That too was dismissed and ignored (certainly that right-wing bunch could never compete with CNN).  Today Fox News so dominates not only the cable universe but the reporting of news on television in general that they beat their cable competitors combined by more than a 2 to 1 margin.

Then came the coup-de-grace, the internet and the social media outlets.  The average citizen could now access the news and opinion (regardless of philosophical bent) without the filter of the mainstream media.  The variety of outlets and use of the social media sites have grown by leaps and bounds, and with them the emergence of such movements as the Tea Party.

In that environment, the world has shifted beneath the feet of the old established media, and such icons as the New York Times, the Washington Post among a myriad of other newspapers have seen erosion in their readership by over 34 per cent.  News magazines no longer command an audience.  Newsweek was recently sold for a dollar and Time Magazine is a skeleton of its former self.  The legendary status of the network nightly news and Sunday talk shows has completely eroded as they have lost nearly half of their viewers.  Virtually all these entities are struggling to stay afloat and are doing so by drastic cost cutting and staff reductions.
 
With all this wreckage, the old career path and its attendant income and celebrity is no more.  The old lions of the media are now forced to work for much less, or move to predominantly left-wing internet sites and appear on unwatched shows on MSNBC.  The new graduates of journalism schools are faced with few or no prospects of the future they envisioned.

In the minds of many members of the mainstream media, the fault for this drastic turn of events lies with the conservatives and those ignorant masses in fly-over country, not with themselves.  Therefore they lash out more than ever against conservatives and Republicans.  As their basic mindset is to look to Washington D.C. as the fountainhead of all solutions, many expect their dilemma to be solved by those in command within the Beltway.  In order to ingratiate themselves with the existing political power structure and maintain their Left leaning audience, they are more willing than ever to say outrageous and unproven things regarding their perceived adversary.

Thus more than ever the mainstream media is disposed to move with a herd mentality as they did with the vitriolic attacks on George Bush or are presently doing in protecting Barack Obama regardless of his disastrous policies or personal failings.  Many voluntarily parrot the same phrasing and talking points delivered to them by either the titular heads of what is left of the media or the Democratic Party.  It can be expected that this will continue throughout the 2012 presidential campaign.  Nothing will be more important than the re-election of President Obama as the vast majority of the old media are convinced that now, more than ever; it is their jobs and livelihood at stake. There is no independence of thought when one's standard of living is at risk.

There is no good end to this downward spiral except to begin objectively reporting news and labeling opinion as opinion...something that has yet to penetrate the psyche of the media in this hyper-partisan nation they helped create.