NOT NECESSARILY THE NEWS: THE TRUTH BEHIND TV NEWS
by Albert Lanier
A funny thing happened this year. A number of TV anchors and reporters from local TV stations across the country ended up saying the exact same thing: an announcement about the pernicious aspects of so-called “fake news.”
At first, denouncing and inveighing against misleading and untrue so-called reporting which is the supposed definition of the now popular term “fake news” sounds reasonable and even commendable.
Further examination found that these reporters and anchors all worked for TV stations owned by one company, Sinclair Broadcast Group.
Yes, Oh, that Sinclair Broadcasting, a media operation with a pronounced right wing slant and tilt in its media world view. A company that is the antithesis of what even Fox News Network would call “Fair and Balanced”.
SBG owns local TV stations across the country comprising various network affiliates. So the TV journalists making those “fake news” PSA across the country came from varied stations.
The problem with Sinclair though is not that they made anti-fake news PSAs that all were exactly similar in verbiage. It’s that SBG is poised to corner the local news market in America.
Sinclair is in the midst of a nearly $4 billion buyout of Tribune Media which would means acquiring their properties. The deal would include 223 TV stations in 108 markets. Thus giving Sinclair access to 72% of the local US TV markets.
Considering Sinclair’s conservative bent, this would be essentially constitute a absolute business and ideological monopoly far greater than any reach that the Fox News Channel and Fox Broadcasting has in terms of the news.
One would tend this to view this as bad for the TV news business in general as a fair arbiter of the news. However closer inspection of the broadcast news business finds that the TV news business is certainly not much an arbiter of news let alone fair.
The fairest description that can be assigned to both the network and cable news networks is that they are best prevaricators and at worst promulgators of gossip, masquerading as analysis and garlanded with a few facts to disguise the fact these outlets are essentially peddling propaganda.
The idea that Television is a medium in which free expression of facts and accurate information can flourish is pure flight of fancy and fantasy. Former Minnesota Governor Jesse Ventura who hosts his own show on the RT network admitted in a segment in which he interviewed comedian and online talk show host Jimmy Dore that he had been signed to a deal with MSNBC upon leaving office as Governor in the early 2000’s. Ventura who didnt agree with the 2003 Iraq War refused to alter his stance. According to Ventura, NBC esssentially barred him from appearing on its network choosing to pay off his 3 year contract.
Dore himself is an interesting case. A veteran stand-up comedian, Jimmy Dore joined The Young Turks Network and later became the host of his own online show, The Jimmy Dore Show. Dore’s show has become a major force as a left wing critic of not only the right wing and conservative factions of the GOP but also of the Centrist matrix currently controlling the Democratic Party which has shut out the progressive and left forces of that party. This reality was largely exposed by the successful but institutionally stymied run of Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders in the Democratic Presidential Primaries in 2016.
Dore has been the target of demonitizing efforts made by You Tube, the major video sharing platform on which his show and many other similar media analysis and news criticism shows can be found such as Secular Talk, Rational National, Humanist Report and the David Pakman Show. The given reason has been the mismatch of online advertisers with videos made by parties of questiionable and sinister motives such as white supremacists and terrorists.
The real reason however seems to forestall and eliminate dissenting voices that challenge the views continually manufactured by the Dominant News Media.
Thus, Dore was essentially smeared as a conspiracy theorist and peddler in a recent CNN.com article that looked at youtube shows over his views of the Syrian war.
These online shows on you tube have attracted a great number of viewers and traffic. This is no surprise considering the real face of the corporate owned media.
Take for example, a Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting or FAIR report about the topic and story selection on MSNBC considered to be the relatively progressive or left of center cable news network compared to solidly right wing Fox News and the supposedly centrist Cable News Network or CNN.
Looking at shows on December 1st and 4–7 of 2017 on MSNBC, FAIR found that instead of focus on some very important stories such as the ongoing Tax bill then winding its way through Congress, MSNBC hosts instead opted to focus on Russia and investigations looking at The President’s alleged connections while a candidate to the Russian Government and its head Vladimir Putin.
The hosts of these hows chose to “lead with minutiae” about Russia noted FAIR and “to focus endlessly on speculative commentary on Russia.”
This emphasis on spotlighting Russia and the ongoing domestic investigations into supposed collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian operatives and the state allows “MSNBC executives to obfuscate policy in favor of tabloid style reporting.”
In fact, the MSNBC network stable of hosts including Rachel Maddow, Lawrence O’Donnell and Chris Hayes are so invested in an intense, almost zealot -like, laser -guided focus on President Trump’s faults and the Russia investigation that perhaps the network should be renamed RTT-Russia Today and Tomorrow network.
Ed Schultz, a former MSNBC talk show host who now has a show on Russia Today or the RT network admitted in an interview this year that he had far more stringent controls placed on him as a host at MSNBC compared to RT. In fact, Shultz stated he was told what to lead into with his MSNBC show, what he was going to cover and what he wasnt going to cover on his show.
Indeed, a vise like control over content on any news program, special or broadcast is a consistent and permanent fixture within the TV news business and as natural as furniture and bedding in a hotel room.
The reality of the TV news business is that it is really news in name only. A charade that comforts the powerful and ignores the powerless while continuing to make millions in profits for its corporate owners.
Huffington Post announced it was ending its contributor network recently noting at one point the need to guard against “the tsunami of false information we all face daily to undermine democracy.”
Here is an excellent way to not drown in such a wave: Avoid TV News. You will be glad you did.
Albert Lanier is a retired freelance journalist who now blogs here on medium.com. His 22 year career includes serving as a contributor for Honolulu Weekly, Pacific Business News and Hawaii Magazine. Lanier also contributed articles to the web site Honolulu Civil Beat. He can be found on Facebook and Twitter.