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“Media” Disappeared: They Now Are Propagandists Instead – Part Two

Today’s story is the finale of Part One of the revelations of our Media. No one can credibly claim that this Media is objective, honest, and non-partisan. They’ve totally turned away from Journalism in their reporting, opting instead for a sellout to Democrats. It has become so obvious and so accepted that the Mainstream Media is “in the tank” for leftist ideology, most Americans view Media as the third leg of the Democrat Party. And, indeed, one can watch and listen to early morning talk shows on MSNBC, CNN, CNBC, and the three broadcast news networks and compare the “news” one hears there to what is broadcast by FOX News, Newsmax, One America Network, and several other streaming operations to confirm that the Left of today’s Media is literally the publicity department for the Party.

In Part Two, you’ll see additional historical evidence to prove these points.

Please: Keep in mind we present facts to you in these two parts. We WANT you to take what you read yesterday, add it to the balance of the story seen below, and go prove its validity or its untruths and come back here and share them with everyone!

That’s what we encourage those who read TruthNewsNetwork stories like this one and listen to “TNN Live!” do: prove us wrong or confirm the validity.

Part Two will further open your eyes. Let’s get to it!

From 1973 To 1993, Only Congress Fell Further In Esteem Than The Press

Perhaps the most serious consequence of journalists’ focus on crises and conflicts is that both they and the public become blind to systemic issues. The focus on the politics of Gramm-Rudman obscured the fact that, for complex institutional reasons, government spending and deficits were continuing to rise. The savings-and-loan debacle of the 1980s became so large and costly because the press was unable to focus on it until it became a crisis. The legislative mistakes and policy failures that had caused it were too complex, too hard to explain, and too boring. Until there was a rash of savings-and-loan failures, enabling the press to show front-page pictures of angry depositors trying to withdraw their money, there was no news and no crisis, and the government was unable to respond.

The press’s inability to report events or trends that are not crises is not limited to public affairs and domestic news. In his amusing and anecdotal book Who Stole the News?: Why We Can’t Keep Up with What Happens in the World, longtime Associated Press special correspondent Mort Rosenblum argues that foreign correspondents sacrifice coverage of important but undramatic long-term trends in favor of dramatic events whose real importance may be minimal. Coups and earthquakes, he says, are what editors want to report. But when reporters try to cover “crucial trends taking shape at the normal pace of human events—slowly…editors have trouble packaging them.”

Rosenblum, like Weaver, argues that the press is far too willing to accept government officials’ self-promoting versions of events. He quotes Reuven Frank, a former president of NBC News, as asserting, “News is whatever the goddamn government says it is.” In a long account of the United Nations operation in Somalia a couple of years ago, Rosenblum contends that the German air force was far more efficient and effective in delivering aid than U.S. forces were. Yet few U.S. readers or viewers learned anything about the Germans’ work or even knew that Germans had participated in the relief effort.

What we learn about foreign news is as dependent on crises and dramatic pictures as our domestic news is. “The system is geared as much to amuse and divert as it is to inform,” Rosenblum writes, “and it responds inadequately when suddenly called upon to explain something…complex and menacing.”

Weaver makes a similar point. The real failing of the press, he argues, is that it has become a victim of the man-bites-dog syndrome. “What’s actually going on in the real world is the ordinary business of ordinary institutions,” he writes. “What officials and reporters converge on, therefore, are travesties, not real events. The news stops representing the real world and begins to falsify it. The barter transaction between newsmaker and journalist degenerates into an exercise in deceit, manipulation, and exploitation.”

The debate on health care reform of the past two years could prove to be a turning point in the destructive cycle. Despite a massive effort by the Clinton administration to whip up a sense of crisis and of the need for urgent reform, and despite intensive press coverage of the competing proposals and viewpoints, the result so far has been a stalemate. Surveys, including one conducted in November 1993 by Fabrizio, McLaughlin & Associates for National Review, found that roughly 80% of U.S. citizens are satisfied with the quality of their present health care. On an issue with which people have firsthand experience and direct interest, all the propaganda and manipulation have been for naught. When people can rely on their own knowledge and experience in forming opinions, even such a massive effort to effect change does not work. The midterm election results suggest that the U.S. electorate has become so distrustful of Congress and of government in general that it will eject any politician who would increase the power or intrusiveness of government.

Yet when people don’t have personal experience or sound information, they can easily be persuaded by a crisis story. The Alar pesticide scare of 1989 is one example. Alar was a pesticide sprayed on apples, and studies for the Environmental Protection Agency found that it caused tumors in laboratory animals that had been given high doses. Many apple growers had already stopped using it; by 1989, Alar was sprayed on less than 40%, and perhaps as little as 5%, of the country’s apples. But an environmental activist group thought that the EPA was too slow to ban it outright. The group did a statistical study called a risk assessment, based on dubious data, and concluded that Alar was dangerous to children, who eat more apples than adults do relative to their body weight. It arranged for its study to be released in an exclusive story on CBS’s 60 Minutes, and the result was a national panic.

The press swarmed on the story, which had all the necessary dramatic elements: a foot-dragging bureaucracy, a study finding that the country’s favorite fruit was poisoning its children, and movie stars opposing the pesticide. Sales of apples collapsed. Within months, Alar’s manufacturer withdrew it from the market, although both the EPA and the Food and Drug Administration stated that they believed Alar levels on apples were safe. The outcry simply overwhelmed scientific evidence.

That happens all too often, Cynthia Crossen argues in her book Tainted Truth: The Manipulation of Fact in America. Although her writing is lax and references to sources are inadequate, the book nonetheless extends Weaver’s argument in several important respects. Crossen, a reporter for the Wall Street Journal, focuses on how advocates of policy positions and companies promoting products misuse scientific research to further their objectives.

Wary of making decisions based on opinion or belief, the U.S. public has come to rely on facts, data, surveys, and presumably scientific studies. People are increasingly reluctant to believe any assertion that is not supported by statistical research. Yet, Crossen writes, “more and more of the information we use to buy, elect, advise, acquit and heal has been created not to expand our knowledge but to sell a product or advance a cause.”

A growing industry has thus developed to create the research to legitimize policy positions or marketing objectives. Public policy debates now commonly revolve around competing estimates of cost, effectiveness, or risk, rather than around the intrinsic merits of a proposal. Much of the healthcare debate raged around differing estimates of the number of citizens without health coverage and the costs of the various proposals to cover them. When President Bill Clinton promised Congress that he would rely on the forecasts of federal spending and deficits of the Congressional Budget Office rather than on those of the executive branch’s Office of Management and Budget, the representatives and senators cheered; they consider the CBO’s forecasts to be more favorable to Congress’s spending proclivities than those of the more cautious OMB.

Companies routinely use research studies to promote products or positions. White bread won’t cause you to gain weight and is nutritious, a study by the Cooper Institute for Aerobic Research found. Its sponsor: the maker of Wonder Bread. Chocolate may actually inhibit cavities, concluded a study by the Princeton Dental Resource Center, which is funded by Mars, the maker of M&M’s and other chocolate candies. The U.S. public’s faith in so-called scientific research gives the studies an impact, even when they contradict common sense and are patently self-serving. “Most members of the media are ill-equipped to judge a technical study,” Crossen correctly points out. “Even if the science hasn’t been explained or published in a U.S. journal, the media may jump on a study if it promises entertainment for readers or viewers. And if the media jump, that is good enough for many Americans.”

Crossen is particularly critical of the overuse and misuse of polls. How questions are worded and how samples are chosen can have a huge impact on the responses. In a 1992 mail-in questionnaire in an ad for Ross Perot in TV Guide, one question read, “Should the President have the Line Item Veto to eliminate waste?” Yes, 97% of respondents said. But when the question was reworded, “Should the President have the Line Item Veto, or not?” and asked of a scientifically selected random sample, only 57% said yes.

The press loves polls and surveys. They’re a surefire way to get publicity—even if the survey is scientifically, socially, or economically meaningless. The first question a smart public relations person asks a client is “What can we do a survey about?” A survey, however inane or irrelevant, will get the client’s name in the papers. A 1993 survey by the Southern Baptist Convention found that 46.1% of the people in Alabama risk going to hell; Crossen doesn’t say how it arrived at that conclusion. A 1991 Roper survey found that 2% of Americans may have been abducted by unidentified flying objects; Crossen doesn’t say who the sponsor was. “That’s what surveys do,” a Roper pollster says. “They basically manufacture news.” Political scientist Lindsay Rogers, by the way, coined the word pollster as a pejorative takeoff of the word huckster. Crossen calls them “pollers.”

Concocted or inaccurate surveys and studies taint our perceptions of what is true, and they distort public policy debates. Crossen concurs with Weaver that the media’s desire for drama encourages the distortion and corruption of public decision-making. “The media are willing victims of bad information, and increasingly they are producers of it. They take information from self-interested parties and add to it another layer of self-interest—the desire to sell information.”

Both Crossen and Weaver end their books with lengthy lists of proposals for reforms. Crossen suggests that high schools should teach students the basics of statistics and how to tell whether numbers are believable. News organizations should train journalists in statistical analysis and should devote more space to describing the research methodology. Every story about research should identify the sponsor and describe its interest in the outcome or impact of the research. And the media should stop producing information that serves only to feed their own interests.

Weaver’s solutions are more sweeping, fundamental, and difficult. He argues that the press should cover crises and disasters less and political, social, and economic events more: less politics, more substance; less on personalities, more on institutions. When the president holds a press conference, for example, the press should cover all of its substance in a single article headed “Presidential Press Conference.”

That is quixotic and will never happen. It would be a return to pre-Pulitzer journalism. The media’s desire to attract an audience and the audience’s inability to concentrate for long would make such a format impossible. Equally unrealistic is another of Weaver’s recommendations. He urges news organizations to “establish a culture of responsibility and deliberation.” Anyone who has ever been in a newsroom at a deadline knows how far that notion is from reality. Weaver also suggests that the media’s focus should be reoriented toward readers and away from advertisers and that media monopolies should be broken up. The rapid advance of information age technology—hundreds of cable television channels, the growth of specialized media, the spread of computer information resources—is certain to give citizens access to far more diverse sources of information and is likely to force the media to reinvent the ways in which they present news and other information.

But none of those changes are likely to alter the persistence of Weaver’s conundrum. A press driven by drama and crises creates a government driven by response to crises. Such an “emergency government can’t govern,” Weaver concludes. “Not only does public support for emergency policies evaporate the minute they’re in place and the crisis passes, but officials acting in the emergency mode can’t make meaningful public policies. According to the classic textbook definition, the government is the authoritative allocation of values, and the emergency government doesn’t authoritatively allocate values.”

In such an environment, the actors who most skillfully create and manipulate crises determine the direction of change. In the 1994 congressional elections, those actors were clearly the Republicans. Many of the reforms they advocate—such as the line-item veto, the restructuring of congressional committees and staffs, and the devolution of powers to the states—would, if implemented, tend to offset the dynamics of Pulitzerian journalism. Those reforms would help return the debate to the merits rather than the politics of government policies. And that would reduce the pressures on and the ability of the government to respond to crises with emergency action and would return the development of policy to a steadier, more constitutional path.

The change in the U.S. government would be revolutionary and would over time reduce the pressures on businesses to respond instantly to attacks and crises. For some years to come, however, businesses are likely to need more corporate propagandists, not fewer.

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