Tuesday, April 21, 2009

A Question Of Moral Courage - Or I Want Truth And Not Spin

Each day I read through my newspaper and online news sites and one thing seems to always stick out in my mind and that is that the shrillest voices are those on the extreme right followed at a somewhat distant second by those on the extreme left. I use the term shrillest because those seem to be the voices that grab the headlines day in and day out and take up the most space. The following are some of my thoughts on these shrill voices and sometimes not so shrill voices.

Growing up as a young boy when radio was still in it's heyday and television was beginning to make its serge into the American living room I remember sitting around a radio and later the television and listening and watching with my parents and grand parents. It was always a family time that I very much enjoyed. After the programs ended we would often have lengthy conversations about what we'd heard or seen. As a child I not only listened to the radio shows that I loved like The Shadow and The Lone Ranger and later watched like the Life of Riley and Ozzie and Harriet but I also listened to and watched news programs. Yes even back then I liked to listen to and watch the news. You remember the broadcasters like Walter Winchell, Edmund R. Murrow and Walter Cronkite or maybe Chet Huntley and David Brinkley. But my point is that we would listen and watch as a family and then talk about what was reported to us.

When comparing the news programs I listened to and watched back then with today's "shows" I immediately recognize that back then we didn't get nearly as much news but we got what I think was "real" news. Looking back on those programs it seems to be that they were filled with much more real and factual information and much less "opinion" or "slant" or "take" or the infamous "spin". Sure there were smut sheets and rag news papers and yes some of the reporters would sometimes try very hard to put color in their language but then I think it was because with the radio you couldn't see it and with the early television it was black and white and they didn't "tape" the news so the reporters put more effort into describing the events and describing them accurately. It just seems to me that back in the day you knew much more readily the difference between the smut and the news. Today this is no longer true. Even the "big" three networks no longer stick to just reporting the news. It has become apparent that they have become more interested in sensationalizing and creating entertainment to gain eyeballs than in "reporting" the news. The big networks and cable outfits are successfully blurring the line to the point where the average citizen can hardly tell the reporting from the opinion. It seems it is no longer about presenting news facts to the reader, listener, or watcher but more about sensationalizing, entertaining, and converting or changing the mind of the individual.

It's my thought that the citizens of this country are no longer allowed to read, hear, or watch the news and come to their own conclusions but must be proselytized. They are no longer left to make their own decisions but are told if they don't believe this or don't think that then they must be unpatriotic, weak, soft, or they don't believe in God, or are not so intelligent as everyone else.

I believe it is apparent that during the buildup and invasion of Iraq the media went after the sensational story and failed miserably to dig and report facts. The results have been painfully and disastrously evident every since. Today the media is once again embarking on that same path. They cannot simply dig for the facts and report on the rescue of the Captain of a pirated ship but they have to make it a test of a new President. It can't be simply reporting on the facts of the G20 summit it's got to be sensationalized and made to look like the Presidential debut and a test of the President as a diplomat and the President is pandering to the French or kowtowing to a communist dictator or accepting gifts from enemies of the country. These failures to conduct proper investigation and reporting on the part of "news organizations" and "news and cable networks" is in my mind unconscionable and shows an absolute lack of moral courage. Have the courage to tell us why the President went there and not conjure up mystical reasons. What were his stated goals and how did he do in achieving those goals? Was his purpose to open up a line of dialogue or to sign a treaty? There's a big difference.

I think most Americans are quite capable of listening to and watching real news programs and coming to appropriate conclusions. For instance, I might say that no, the action at sea was not a test of the President. It was a piracy incident that was taken care of appropriately by the United States government (paid for by your welcomed tax dollars). Yes the President had to make some decisions which he did and yes some military personnel had to do their jobs and they did and yes thank God the Captain and his crew were brought home safe but, it was not a test. It was real life and everyone involved did their jobs. That's all it was. Will there be more piracy incidents, yes. Will the President have to make decisions and the military carry them out, yes. That's all there is to it. Will it, over time, develop into a pattern and then we will see the whole picture that is the foreign policy of this President and this nation, yes but let's just report the facts and then let the American people make up their own minds.

You might ask why the title of this post is "A Question Of Moral Courage"? That is because I believe that if you have News in your name it is a question of moral courage, or lack there of, on the part of the news media to report the just the facts. To dig and know all of the facts and present them to the citizens of this nation as simple facts for them to draw their own conclusions. Show us pictures, tell us what happened and who said what. That's why we're watching.

If you're not a real news organization then label yourself what you really are "entertainment" just like Jon Stewart or Steven Colbert. It's my thought that the difference between Stewart and Colbert and the Fox "News" organization and its ilk is that when Colbert and Stewart tell their rare comedic lie they tell you they are lying and that's at least honest. They don't pretend to be real news organizations.

So my bottom line is this. If you are just a 7 day a week hard copy print blog or a 24/7 broadcast TV blog then have the moral courage to admit it and then those who are interested in being converted can read or tune you in. Otherwise take the News out of your name because your not.

Those Are The Sergeant Major's Thoughts on That.

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