The other night as Scott Pelley tried to lull me to sleep with yet another “kitten rescued from a tree story,” it suddenly occurred to me that watching the nightly news on the major networks is a huge waste of time. With all the destruction and deceit created by right-wing extremists in this country, it is obscene that CBS, NBC, and ABC focus such large blocks of time to celebrity gossip, cute puppy stories, heartwarming human interest (e.g., the blind person who succeeds in college), and other “news stories” meant to assuage my fears, curry my favor, or make me overlook systematic dismantling of democracy. I’ve come to the conclusion that nightly news broadcasts are nothing more than light entertainment, used by corporate sponsors and owners to sell me financial services, cars, and computer widgets. Real journalism is dead. The days of Walter Cronkite editorializing about the futility of the Vietnam War, Harry Reasoner denouncing segregation, and Howard K. Smith exposing Nixon as a criminal are long gone. And the insidiously deceptive part is that the things they will not tell you are the very things which are tearing democracy to shreds. Here are just a few of the things which go unreported by ABC, CBS and NBC.
1)The Proliferation of Guns and Gun Deaths in U.S.
In 2014, approximately 35,000 people died by gunfire in the United States. It is estimated that 2015 deaths will exceed that number. The Center For Disease Control reports that gun violence costs American Taxpayers over $500 million annually in direct hospital costs. Yet you will not hear these stats on the nightly news, because these cowardly “journalists” are fearful of NRA and right-wing backlash.
2)Scandal-Free Obama Admiunistration
Over 130 members of Ronald Reagan’s administration were either accused, indicted, or convicted of crimes. The two Bush administrations squandered our national treasure and countless lives with needless wars; billions of taxpayer dollars which funded those wars are still unaccounted for. War criminals like Dick Cheney, Colin Powell, and Don Rumsfeld have been given a free pass. On the contrary, the Obama administration has been absolutely scandal-free. Yet the contrast between his administration and others goes unnoticed in print and broadcast media.
3)Illegitimacy of Extremist Right-Wing Views
If Scott Pelley were broadcasting the nightly news in Berlin in 1933, he would hide behind the veneer of fairness and present the Nazi party viewpoint alongside the democratic stance. This analogy applies today, as right-wing extremism is presented as a legitimate opposing view on all issues. Even when right-wing politicians take ridiculously hateful positions, these positions are given equal time. A dumbed-down American public construes these positions as legitimate.
4)Right-Wing Presidential Candidates’ Lies and Scandals Go Unchallenged, but Hillary Clinton Gets Incessantly Hounded About Non-Issues Like Benghazi and E-Mails.
Carly Fiorina lied about seeing a video of an aborted fetus with a beating heart lying on a clinic table somewhere. No video exists. Planned Parenthood does not harvest human brains and limbs and organs for profit. Yet these lies, and a thousand others, are not exposed by the mainstream media. Viewers who believe everything they see on TV get a warped sense of reality.
5)Where the jobs went
Outsourcing (or offshoring) is a bigger contributor to unemployment in the U.S. than laziness. Since 2000, U.S. multinationals have cut 2.9 million jobs here while increasing employment overseas by 2.4 million. This is likely just the tip of the iceberg as multinational corporations account for only about 20% of the labor force.
When was the last time you saw a front-page headline about outsourcing?
6)Upward wealth redistribution and/or inequality
In 2014, 10% of the people held approximately 88% of the net worth in the U.S. The top 1% alone held 40% of all net worth. The ultra-rich are hoarding all the wealth. Soon nothing will be left but scraps for the poor. These statistics are nonpartisan and available to all reporters. Why aren't they discussed in the mainstream media?
7)How ALEC is destroying democracy
ALEC stands for American Legislative Exchange Council. Sounds innocuous enough, but don't be fooled. This organization, perhaps more than any other, is killing the democratic system. It is funded by the richest right-wing corporations and individuals in the country, who have bought and paid for most, if not all, right-wing politicians. ALEC drafts its own legislation and then demands that its whore-bought Republicans pass it. Need legislation drafted? No need to go through a lobbyist to reach state legislatures anymore. Just contact ALEC. Among other things, ALEC is responsible for:
• Stand Your Ground laws
• Voter ID laws
• Right to Work laws (union busting)
• Privatizing schools
• Health savings account bills which benefit health care companies
Many legislators don’t even change the proposals handed to them by ALEC. They simply take the corporate bills and bring them to the legislative floor. They're meeting in Chicago this weekend. Maybe the "liberal media" will send some reporters. But don’t hold your breath.
8) The number of bills blocked by Republicans in Congress
The filibuster has been used a record number of times since Obama was elected President. From 2008-2012, 375 bills weren’t even allowed to come to a vote in the Senate because Republicans threatened the filibuster. This is more obstruction than occurred in the Reagan, Bush I, and Bush II administrations combined. In 2013, during the first 6 months, Congress has only passed 15 bills that were signed into law. The GOP has also succeeded in holding up 79 of President Obama’s picks to the U.S. Circuit Court and Courts of Appeal. They’re blocking these appointments regardless of qualification.
Where's the coverage? Where are the reporters asking why nothing is getting done?
Where does one go for hard news and good, old-fashioned muckraking journalism in America today? You got me. Adlai Stevenson once said, "The free press is the mother of all our liberties and of our progress under liberty"; and Thomas Jefferson wrote, "The only security of all is in a free press. The force of public opinion cannot be resisted when permitted freely to be expressed. The agitation it produces must be submitted to. It is necessary, to keep the waters pure."
Without a watchdog media exposing corruption, hypocrisy and the dismantling of democracy, we will devolve into a totalitarian state, run by and for the powerful few. Maybe this is what it was like in 1933 Berlin; we’re closer than ever to fascism.