The press has decided that Barack Obama's comments to a group in San Francisco are of the utmost importance to America. The predictable faux outrage of both Hillary Clinton and John McCain have been covered as if they were delivering the Gettysburg address. Is this what the press in this country has been lowered to? Covering a story that means absolutely nothing and affects no one. When did the media become one big tabloid? Perhaps it has been all along and it has just taken me some time to notice. But there was a day when the press took down a Senator who was making outrageous claims and destroying people's lives for political gain. There was a day when the press took down the most powerful man in the world for trying to circumvent the Constitution. What is the press doing today? Trying to decide whether Obama's use of the word "bitter" will somehow damage his campaign.
Last week we had hearings in Washington in which the military leader of our forces in Iraq basically said that there is no way out of this conflict. Last week over 20 Americans were killed in a conflict with seemingly no end. Last week, there was a report that high ranking officials in the Bush administration had meetings in which they not only condoned torture, but laid out the blueprint for that torture. Last week the President acknowledged not only that these meetings took place, but that he was aware of the subject matter of the meetings. Last week thousands of children in this country went to bed hungry. Last week millions of Americans were still without health care. Last week thousands of Americans lost their homes. Last week thousands of Americans lost their jobs.
All these things went on last week, but yet the press is focusing on the semantics of a comment made by Barack Obama. Where are the priorities of the press? They say people are tired of the war and don't want to hear anymore about it? That is not a reason to limit coverage of a conflict that is costing American lives daily and is increasing our debt exponentially by the second. Ratings are not a substitute for news coverage. All stations are licensed to broadcast by the FCC and part of their responsibility in order to keep those licenses is to demonstrate that they are serving the public. At this point, the TV "news channels" are barely functioning as a benefit to the public. They have a string of talking heads come on and dazzle us with their brilliance while providing a minimum of actual substance. I personally don't care what Obama's pastor has been preaching for the past 20 years, I don't care that Hillary Clinton was once a Goldwater supporter, I don't care that John McCain's wife was a drug addict who used her own charitable organization as a front to acquire drugs illegally (Ok, I think that last one is kind of interesting, but irrelevant). I want to know about the issues that are affecting this country today and the ones that will affect us tomorrow. I want to know what the candidates solutions to those problems are. I don't care if Obama can bowl, I don't care if Hillary can shoot a rifle and I damn sure don't care what John McCain made for the press at his last cookout.
The push for ratings and sales has replaced journalistic integrity in today's press coverage. Why put an unpopular story about people dying in a war in front of the American people when you show them clips of Obama dancing on Ellen, or Hilllary chatting it up on the Tonight Show, or John McCain making fun of David Letterman on the Late Show? The press has decided that the American people can't handle the truth. We would rather be shown a string of sound bites than be made aware of what actually matters in this country. The dumbing down of America is complete when the press becomes a willing ally of the party in power and WE THE PEOPLE are too either too bored or too complacent to care.
I can hope that somewhere out there in this vast sea of nonsense, where it's hard to tell the difference between the nightly news and Entertainment Tonight, there is a beacon of light pointing the way toward a better future. Will the press ever bring down a President again? Unlikely, but perhaps it's time they try again. At least that way the President will have someone or something that actually questions his actions. This administration is a clear example of what happens when the executive branch is allowed to run unchecked. Absolute power corrupts absolutely and this administration has been study in absolute corruption.
The press will rise again when WE THE PEOPLE demand it. I'm just afraid that the American people have already become so used to the cult of personality, that we are sujected to on a daily basis, that the idea of real investigative journalism will fade into history and be lost forever. It's not too late to make a change, but it requires more than one voice to make a difference. Remember folks the best journalism is not supposed to reinforce what you already think, it's supposed to make you question what you think you already know.
Where have you gone, Edward R. Murrow? A nation turns its lonley eyes to you.