It would be all too easy to confine the failures of the mainstream media to Fox "News", the place where journalism went to die but to any aware news consumer, that would be in itself misleading and unfair. Fox just presents itself as a big, easy target because of their refusal to report the news in a nonpartisan fashion. They're just more unabashedly blatant about it than other networks.
But we've been seeing over the last several decades the mainstream media playing the part of war cheerleaders, the material witness that never seems to be where it's supposed to be to tell the full story. And the failures of the MSM to report the news fully and accurately extends far beyond television. It's also crept into the once-trusted venues of newspaper, magazines and radio.
When we began letting corporations, especially defense contractors and media giants, own networks, the slow but steady destruction of the news was all but inevitable. Eric Boehlert in Lapdogs and Norm Solomon in War Made Easy are two especially damning indictments on the neverending failure of the media to report the news the way it ought to be reported. If the media did their job, we wouldn't need people like Boehlert or Solomon or Media Matters or Newshounds or Buzzflash or... Well, you get the idea.
Every year, someone has to publish a list of the top 10 or 25 news stories that were never or hardly reported on. In fact, it's a book series. TV networks and stations would claim there's only so much news that can be fit into any one news cycle. Yet they utterly fail to explain why the Balloon Boy and Anna Nicole Smith's and Michael Jackson's deaths or Britney Spears shaving her head qualifies as real news and why we shouldn't shove such trash to Entertainment Tonight to make more room for real news.
The incomparable and indefatigable Michael Collins in Egypt and the False Dilemma reminds us of the MSM's latest failure. He begins,
The people of Egypt have had enough of a failed dictatorship masquerading as a democracy. As events unfold, we're seeing a cautionary message entering the corporate media coverage of this event. Having never exposed the dire conditions that prompted the massive protests and demands for change, we're now told that this could negatively impact oil supplies, the stock market, and anti-terror efforts. No foundation for the claims was provided but they're repeated regularly on CNN, the NBC's, Fox, and the print media.
Thus, a false dilemma is created for the public: support the right of people to determine their own fate or protect your safety and the current standard of living, as it were.
Indeed, precious little context is given for the protests in Egypt and Tunisia and next to nothing about those in Jordan and Yemen. The spectacle is everything and if you have enough spectacle, especially when it's tinged with human blood, who needs context?
The overwhelming impression given to the cautious and cynical news consumer is that telling the unvarnished truth about a tyrannical regime with whom the United States and its corporations have longstanding ties is akin to biased, slanted, gonzo journalism. Obviously, that's not true. Despite what faux conservative Stephen Colbert asserts, the truth does not have a liberal bias. As we all know, it's supposed to have no more bias than a mirror.
Plus, over the last several decades, we've seen an uncomfortable reverse mitosis of what used to pass for real, hard news and the infotainment that appeals more and more to the reptilian part of the human brain (most vividly delineated by the Balloon Boy who wasn't in his shiny balloon). It appeals to the curiously peculiar racist American mindset that only cares about missing children, teens, murder victims and runaway brides as long as they're white and good looking.
For every Pat Tillman there are 100 or more LaVena Johnsons. Tillman, a smart, handsome and very white NFL safety, was branded a war hero, one whom the DoD claimed was killed in combat. LaVena Johnson, a young black girl stationed in Balad Iraq, was dismissively ruled a suicide in spite of a mountain of evidence all but proving that she was robbed, beaten, killed and immolated to destroy the evidence.
The mainstream media fawned all over George W. Bush when he pissed and moaned that the worst moment of his so-called presidency was when Kanye West told the truth about him in one of his milder public outbursts: "George Bush doesn't like black people." Meanwhile, the press had long since given up on Susan Lindauer, the first major American casualty of the USA PATRIOT Act, someone who was falsely and illegally imprisoned, persecuted and financially ruined for simply doing her job.
While the press gleefully reported that war criminals Paul Wolfowitz and Paul Bremer were being awarded Presidential Medal of Freedom by their crime boss, the aforementioned George W. Bush, they yawned and strenuously ignored the likes of Bunny Greenhouse (who is black), Sibel Edmonds and other whistle blowers for simply doing their job.
While the press gathered around their self-made glitter surrounding Julian Assange, the glamorous international provocateur, they all but had forgotten about Bradley Manning's inhumane treatment. The only reason we know these names is because of the better political blogs, another necessary antidote to a failing mainstream media that puts corporate interests above that of the nation's need to know.
Back in World War Two, we had a word for this kind of misleading, criminal censorship and cherry-picking. It's "propaganda", the kind of thing that Hitler's right hand man Goebbels was responsible for (his official title was even "Minister of Propaganda"). At least the Nazis were up front about what they did and what they were.
You ask Roger Ailes why his network is so biased in favor of the Republican Party, why, he'll quiver his jowls in righteous indignation, call you a liberal rabblerouser and a Nazi and claim that Fox "News" is "fair and balanced."
But the pseudo-intellectual DNA can be traced back to the Nazi Minister of Propaganda and well beyond him. The only difference is Goebbels was more honest, upfront and ballsy about it than his little bastards in latter day American newsrooms.