The Media: Not so much fake news as shallow, less than objective journalism

It might be said that the media is not well-rounded for it often beats the same subject almost to death.


Donald Trump, in his war against the media, accuses its members of peddling fake news.  He calls reporters and TV hosts crooked, unfair, troublemakers, liars and bimbos.  In his mind, except in those cases in which they commend him in some way, which would be a rarity indeed, they are the dregs of journalism.

While Trump’s insults aimed at the mainstream media are often referred to as outrageous the fact of the matter is that this media is most certainly not above criticism, not by any means. Here are some of the reasons why it falls short of representing the best of journalism.

Take CNN or MSNBC cable news, and let’s just forget Fox News as it is more than boring and painful to watch. On any given day tune into most any one of these news shows and what you will likely see and hear is the very same news repeated over and over. That’s understandable to a point but you would think that in the evening, when they have the most viewers, that their programming would vary between the individual shows and hosts to a larger extent; that’s hardly the case.

One show looks and sounds like the other. Only the hosts and the panelists are different.

Recently I was checking to see what might be happening on CNN and MSNBC and the subject of the day was Paul Manafort, Trump’s former campaign manager. All I heard time and again was how he apparently has been informed by the Mueller investigative group that he will be indicted for some crime, possibly money laundering and/or tax evasion.

It might be said that the media is not well-rounded for it often beats the same subject almost to death. We see the same experts come on board the shows; former generals or admirals, so-called terrorism experts, reporters from the NY Times, Washington Post, other news organizations and a wide array of websites. Of the many panelists, there is a steady stream of former prosecutors, former FBI officials, or former national security advisers.

These TV news organizations simply do not cover critically important issues in the depth required by objective journalism; to a great extent they do not go below the surface and initiate in-depth discussions of the major aspects of any given issue using experts in the field in question who know it inside and out.

Watching these shows on a daily basis, as some people most certainly do, is like watching the same movie consistently throughout the year.

You can watch these news shows 24/7 and you will not increase your knowledge about the monumental health care problem that is plaguing this country. You won’t hear the details relative to its greatest shortcomings and how they can be alleviated; details on the massive wastes of taxpayer money, the failure to include all Americans.

If these cable news organizations were doing a real service to this country and its people they would include the best minds in the medical field, from hospital administrators to medical specialists, the American Medical Association and other medical organizations, to discuss all the facets of this problem and put forth solutions. They are doing no such thing and that’s clearly journalistic deficiency.

Here is a list of critically important issues that the American people rarely, if ever, see or hear about from this mainstream media.

  • America’s endless wars.
  • Deadly drone attacks on Somalia and Yemen.
  • The growing, powerful alliance of Russia and China.
  • North Korea: the background of how this crisis has developed over many decades.
  • The extent of our festering national infrastructure problem
  • NRA, gun violence in America, gun safety initiatives.
  • Climate change; the pros and cons of this controversial issue.
  • What’s happening in Eastern Syria where U.S. and Russia are heading straight into a military collision that easily erupts into an all-out war; see this insightful article by Mike Whitney.
  • Afghanistan; the war with no end.
  • The Anti-war movement in America; how it has been silenced.
  • The great degree of inequality of wealth and income in America.
  • The 1%, Corporate America and their control over this government and nation.
  • Militarism of police forces in America’s cities and towns.

Why is it that we never see some of the very best experts on world affairs who actually do practice real journalism, who go below the surface, dig deep to get facts and evidence, explore the pros and cons of a given situation and draw substantive conclusions. Most of them are independent journalists while others work for news outlets such as The Guardian, the BBC or Reuters.

Who are some of these highly respected independent journalists who are rarely if ever seen on cable news shows? They include:

F. William Engdahl: an award-winning geopolitical analyst, strategic risk consultant, Author, professor and lecturer who has been researching and writing about the world political scene for more than thirty years.

Joseph Stiglitz: American economist and professor at Columbia University; a recipient of the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences. Very knowledgeable about globalization and world affairs in general.

Robert Parry: an American investigative journalist known for his role in covering the Iran-Contra affair for the Associated Press; has covered many wars and conflicts around the world.

John Pilger: Highly respected Australian world affairs journalist; longtime foreign correspondent covering numerous wars over decades, most notably Vietnam; a fearless journalist.

Eric Margolis: award-winning, internationally syndicated columnist, a war correspondent covering many conflicts in the Middle East; considered an expert on world affairs.

Why are these highly respected journalists, quite apparently, banned on these cable news shows? The answer is quite obvious; they would provide concrete facts and evidence to hack up their contentions and pull no punches in judging the policies and actions of this government.

Their objective critiques of the current U.S. government and especially its highly aggressive foreign policy of intimidation and domination of other nations around the world would not be welcome. And so they are persona non grata.

Let’s talk further about health care. On Monday, Sept. 26, 2017, I watched CNN present a debate relative to the condition of health care in America and what could and should have been a great presentation turned out to be no more than average at best.

The debate conducted by mediators Dana Bash and Jake Tapper of CNN involved Senators Amy Klobuchar and Bernie Sanders representing the Democratic Party’s positions on health care against Lindsey Graham and Bill Cassidy who represented the GOP.

Unfortunately, this debate came across as just one more political battle between Republicans and Democrats leaving the key issue, health care, unresolved. The two Republicans just condemned Obamacare as a disaster but presented no alternatives besides the twisted ones that the GOP in the Senate had proposed and were defeated.

Sanders, with the aid of Klobuchar, talked about the need for single-payer or Medicare for all but didn’t get into specifics about how it would be phased in as it replaced the current health care systems already in place; and didn’t talk about how it would be funded, which is of paramount importance.

While this criticism of the media is most definitely warranted, based on the objective of attempting to have it engage in objective journalism, let’s give some credit where credit is due. It, especially CNN, has done a very good job covering the recent disasters in Texas and Florida and right now in Puerto Rico.

The coverage has been extensive and the best part of it has been when its anchors have, in portraying the suffering of the people, strongly pointed out that the U.S. government must greatly accelerate its efforts to do all it can to remedy the situation. This kind of journalism should serve as a model for what the media needs to do in all of its major programming.

If this media took this new direction going into the future, concentrating on presenting in-depth objective journalism aimed at addressing and solving this country’s major problems, then it would be lauded for playing a major role in making the phrase “make America great again” a reality.


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Michael Payne is an independent progressive activist. His writings deal with social, economic, political and foreign policy issues; and especially with the great dangers involved with the proliferation of perpetual war, the associated defense industry, and the massive control that Corporate America holds over this government and our election process; all which are leading this nation down the road to eventual financial ruin if the conditions are not reversed. He is a graduate of Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois and a U.S. Army veteran.