By Alan Caruba
My friend, the humorist Ron W. Marr has a section on his website, Troutwrapper.com, titled “All the Gnus That Fits.” It is a send-up of what passes for journalism in the mainstream media (MSM).
The section begins with a poem:
I know not what the truth may be,
I tell it as was told to me.
So If it's not true, please don't call.
I heard it was, and that is all.
A lot of what passes for “news” is often this kind of reportorial sausage based on hearsay, gossip, and innuendo.
I was reminded of this in the wake of the libel perpetrated against conservative talk show host, Rush Limbaugh. Not one single “racist” quote attributed to him was true and those in a 2006 book had no citations noting the date the quote was made, where, and to whom. They were a total fabrication.
Here’s a statistic that will astound you. As reported in Editor & Publisher, the trade magazine of journalism, “News media, including newspapers, broadcast and digital, have shed 35,886 jobs” from August 2008 to September 2009.
In the course of a year, journalism jobs have “gone away at almost three times the rate jobs have disappeared in the general economy, according to a report by Unity: Journalists of Color.” In fact, the numbers are actually worse. Unity reported that, since January 1, 2008, “the news industry has shed 46,599 jobs.”
Newspapers have become the dinosaurs of the digital age. What saddens me more is that so much of what was and is still being reported is so slanted, biased, and often swiftly proven to be inaccurate is an indicator of the closed minds of those doing the reporting, editing, and producing.
It says something about the level of journalistic decay that two kids, James O’Keefe and Hannah Giles, barely in their twenties, could break the story about the corruption of ACORN, Obama’s favorite “community organizing” organization. With a hidden television camera, posing as a pimp and his prostitute, they revealed how little was investigated and reported by the mainstream media about this sinkhole of corruption.
It took Brietbart.com, an Internet news outlet, and Glenn Beck of Fox News to break the story. It is worth noting, however, that in addition to print journalism, radio and television, and even digital news jobs are being lost.
A major reason it has taken barely nine months for the Obama administration and a compliant Congress to rack up the worst approval or disapproval poll scores is that the mainstream media can no longer hide the ugliness of who these people are and what they are doing. As often as not, they are being exposed by people outside the world of professional journalism.
Try as they did to ignore nearly a million or more Americans in the streets of Washington, D.C. on September 12th, the images and the news rippled out across the Internet and, thanks to C-Span, on television. MSM coverage was desultory at best. The event, however, was revolutionary.
It was the MSM that slavishly and worshipfully touted Barack Obama during the campaign, who put his picture on the covers of their “news” magazines so many times it became a joke. These were the people who, like MSNBC’s Chris Matthews, got "a tingle" every time he spoke.
I am an old, former journalist whose first real job after college and the Army was as a reporter for a weekly newspaper in New Jersey. I had not taken a single course in journalism. It was strictly on-the-job training and my first editor said, “Listen, kid, if you personally don’t like one of the politicians in this town, I expect you to bend over backwards to be fair to him.” It was my first lesson in journalism. It’s called objectivity; the need to keep oneself out of the story, but to get the quotes and facts straight!
I suspect those days are long gone. It’s okay for commentators to gain credibility and recognition for the insight and analysis they provide, but their work appears on the editorial and/or opinion pages. By contrast reporters used to be—with the exception of a byline—the invisible eyes and ears who just reported.
A lot of the loss of journalism jobs over the passed two years tracks to the loss of revenue newspapers and news magazines used to generate. Buying a single issue of a newspaper these days comes with sticker shock. Revenues for other news outlets—with the exception of Fox News Channel—are suffering as well.
It’s not just the economy. It’s Obama’s economy.
The one that gave billions of taxpayer dollars to private enterprises.
The one that passed an unread “stimulus” bill filled with “pork.”
The one where the federal government owns General Motors and Chrysler.
The one that wants to take complete control of the nation’s healthcare system.
The one that wants to tax all energy use.
The one overseeing the devaluation of the U.S. dollar.
The one waging a campaign out of the White House against Fox News.
That isn’t just the news that’s fit to print. That is an all-out assault on the Constitution and very future of the nation.