Inspection- Our Media is Driving Us Mad

by Ken Carman

 Our media is literally driving us mad.
  I can hear it now…
  “You mean the liberal media? …the right wing media? …media owned by big biz?”
  No, just “the media.”
  The fact I even have to go where I have to go next shows the sickness our media has infected society with. But if I had to blame one side or the other, yes, I would blame the right: but not for the reason you might think, or as much as some on the left would demand. And not “blame” because there’s any specific skew: you can’t have media without at least some skew because humans have opinions, prejudices, points of views and directions they prefer to look. Reporters have editors and program directors, editors and program directors have bosses, bosses have owners and influences, and demands, don’t stop there.
  Yes: there always will be some “skew.”
  No, the reason a lot of the blame is pointed at the right is their insistence, years ago, on dismantling objectivity. I remember the arguments I had quite well, on debating sites, in the classroom: everywhere. Mostly “arguments” with folks on the right, but some on the left bought this “all or nothing” nonsense.
  I remember the blank stares I’d get when I’d respond to a supposed “logical” debating point…
  “There’s no such thing as objective media.”
  …with…
  “Yes, but the goal has never been having an objective media, it’s been trying to be objective as possible.
  And, from now on, I’ll try to keep this discussion as “objective” as possible… at least for an opinion-based column. I’d expect better from an actual reporter, any actual news source.
  The problem is not necessarily FOX, or MSNBC, or CBS, or ABC, or CNN. The problem is, if you look at the collective damage caused by this “no objective media argument,” is that it has been used as an excuse to discourage even the attempt to be more objective, encourage purely partisan media. “Dismantled” while mixing entertainment with what passes as “news” these days.
  We no longer have a collective “news” media. We have many different media outlets telling stories the way one partisan side or another wants them told. Or at least covering the news so half arsed, so unevenly, it’s hardly “news” at all. In part because covering, telling, the most important news stories well: or at all, might offend one partisan side or another, an advertiser or some special interest group. Usually not just one, but more than just one of the aforementioned very persnickety, overly self righteous and super sensitive groups.
  When humanity began we passed on stories by the fire, each telling more elaborate, more skewed than the last version of the same story. We have gone back to that method of storytelling only, in some cases, it’s worse…and spread at an incredible speed due to the vast improvement of communications.
  A few milder examples….
  …outrage at a Muslim temple supposedly to be built on the site of 9/11 that was intended to be a nest for Islamic fanatics. Problem being it wasn’t going to be built on the site of 9/11, and it wasn’t supposed to be some sanctuary, or plotting place, for Islamic fanatics. Indeed: other faiths were to be welcomed.
  …photo shopped upside down book being held by Bush on 9/11.
  Here’s one more example: current. The Obama administration was openly mocked for claiming what happened in Benghazi was, in part, due to anger over a video. Recently captured ringleader of the attack, Ahmed Abu Khattala, has confirmed it was revenge for that video.
  Now here’s what going to happen. On the rightward skewed networks… (“networks” is dated terminology, but let’s go with it) …there will less coverage of that statement. When, or even if, they do mention it it will be with talking heads who will dismiss it because of who he is. I have no doubt some will even at least hint at some conspiracy theory, like the claim this capture was timed to help Hillary. On the left you’ll have far more coverage and outraged talking heads: mad that the right won’t admit to their error. Will they ever address timing with anything other than snark? Probably not, even though they were willing to go on and on about it during Bush II.
 There are plenty of examples from all over the political spectrum, I’m sure. In the end, no matter what you believe, we won’t have “news.”
  No, we’re not allowed to have nice things. All because we’re not supposed to have any “objectivity.” The only other answer is not an ounce of objectivity at all. It’s as if we had the attitude, “Well, since we can’t keep our children perfectly safe, why bother doing anything?”
 Is Al Jazeera an exception? Well, does it matter? The same no objective news meme’ has labeled AJ as that network that’s a mouthpiece for terrorists, so I wouldn’t be surprised if the American numbers on AJ make the past tense Current look good.
 One certainly can argue this kind of collective media creates mental illness across the country where narcissism, and living within oneself to the point of being a psychopath, results in us suffering from an odd form of psychosis. An “odd form of psychosis” because it includes drone-like group think. Folks think their group is the one filled with creative thinkers, the only ones truly “awake.”
  News programs: real news programs, should be a service to the citizenry and report news… not just what suits one specific audience best. They should be marginally profitable at best, often somewhat of a money sucking hole that stations make up for with advertizing and actual entertainment.
  Actual entertainment… you know: fiction?
 The attempt to maintain objectivity is what used to keep a respectable distance between fiction and news. The attempt to be objective helped keep news “networks” from being filled with specific audience, advertiser, targeted Goebbels-like propaganda. The attempt to be objective helped inform the public what’s happening in their world without trying to turn them into one sided talking point zombies.
 Yes, dear reader, brains are being eaten here, and those who have trouble thinking for themselves are the main course.
 Deregulating the media didn’t turn out so well, did it? Seems there’s a downside to many forms of media being owned by a few companies.
  I don’t see any of this changing soon. After all if going the wrong way on an interstate made people rich we’d all have cars headed at us from whatever direction that suits their fancy. And that’s exactly what we’ve been doing. In a moment where fiction addresses reality, it reminds me of the folks in the car talking to John Candy and Steve Martin in Planes, Trains and Automobiles.
  “You’re going the wrong way,” and to make one last comment “re:” the next sentence, “You’re going to kill someone.”
  And that’s what happens when news is abandoned: people become so ill-informed that bad decisions are made over and over again and, too often, far more than one someone gets killed. A lot more. No matter what your fav topic, or cause, an overly skewed media only makes it worse, and creates much more carnage than should have ever happened.
  “You’re going the wrong way,” indeed.
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Inspection is a column that has been written by Ken Carman for over 30 years. Inspection is dedicated to looking at odd angles, under all the rocks and into the unseen cracks and crevasses that constitute the issues and philosophical constructs of our day: places few think, or even dare, to venture.

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Ken Carman and Cartenual Productions
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