Welcome to my asylum for ideas and thoughts on movies, politics, culture, and all things Bruce Springsteen.

Wednesday, July 14, 2004

I Read the News Today, Oh Boy

We are living in a dangerous time where information, as it is delivered to us via the Internet, television, print media, or radio, is being compromised like never before by its sources. I am not naive to think that this is the only era that has had to watch out for trustworthiness of sources of information, but today with big media and the culture wars, we are being pummeled with supposed "fair and balanced" reporting which is nothing of the sort. First and foremost, people should attempt to see or at least read up on "Outfoxed", a new documentary that analyzes the "fair and balanced" (yes I have repeated this quoted expression for a reason) Fox News Channel. I have had just about enough from Bill O'Reilly, the bastard child of Satan, who claims to be doing investigative journalism a favor by showering us with his opinionated tripe passed as news. Any time a "reporter" leading a major news network has come from a television tabloid ("Inside Edition") we all should be swallowing buckets of salt as we watch. See this excellent yet discouraging article from this morning's Nation on-line here. There is also an informative article in this morning's San Francisco Chronicle that looks at the impact of this new wave of information delivering. Now, I need to be fair about my rant to include Michael Moore's new film, "Fahrenheit 9/11" which has now become the biggest money-making "documentary" of all time. I place this film's category in quotes because, as most of us know, Moore's films aren't true documentaries. They are commentaries about American life and society. I enjoy his films, but Moore does take liberty (via editing, either footage or context) with how he delivers his message, powerful messages as they may be. I agree with Moore, I appreciate his two cents on the Bushies' failure at running the country, and I support more of his voice to counter the right wing-nuts out there at the "fair and balanced" station (you should be getting the hint by now). However, Moore, like Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh and many KPFA programs (which I also love dearly) is a polemicist. He has a message that he wants to get out to the country. We all do. However, society has to be careful in how it digests all of this information. We need to consider source, context, and what aspects of news is left out just as much as what is left in. I hope that Michael Moore can be considered an influential factor in booting Bush out; however, I can't justifiably show him in my classroom as THE documentary of the Bush Administration due to how Moore delivers his goods. It's not journalism, nor will it hold up as true history.
Onto other aspects of the news that worries me:
1. Pretty newscasters. Does it frighten you that the big news channels (Fox, CNN, MSNBC) as well as a growing number of local news stations, deliver their news via a a young, pretty, and always female newscaster? Trying to boost ratings by "sexing up" the source sickens me. Not that a pretty face can't read any better or worse than a plain-looking chap; however, I find this new wave of news reporting to play to men's inner desires and not the desire to learn about the Dow Jones, Congress, or other stories. I find it sexist and demeaning. Women aren't being sought after for their intelligence - if you don't believe me, then notice the amount of cleavage some reporters show when telling us about that plane crash with a gleam in their eye (apologies to Don Henley). What happens when she gets "too old" to compete with the new, young batch of newscasters? Ask Greta from CNN. I can't even recognize that poor woman any more. And has it helped ratings?
2. The hijacking of most major media sources by the right. Fox News, Rupert Murdoch, et al. Intellectuals on both sides of the political spectrum read the right sources, yet the majority of the country isn't made up of highly educated ivory tower types (I wish I was one). The majority consists of hard working families who don't have the leisure time (the root word of education, fyi) to read, debate, and pontificate because they have to bust their humps to feed their kids, God bless them. However, since people are being fed such garbage from these big media, their filters are also being formed as to how not only they learn about the news but how they VIEW it.
3. The Jon Stewart Show. Another "God bless you" goes out to Jon because he's really funny. I don't watch him a lot, but when I do, I always laugh hysterically because he has become what Dennis Miller once was - the truly witty, insightful, funny pundit. Don't get me started on Judas Miller, but let's keep on Jon. The thing that worries me is how so many younger Americans are getting their news strictly from him. The fact that younger people are getting news is a good thing, but from a comedy show? Again, the filter or bias thing comes into play, but also the growing spectre of Infotainment looms over the Daily Show. News isn't supposed to be funny, scary, or mood-inducing in any way. News should be as non-biased as possible, dry, dull, yet informative. Now, however, we have to be able to find humor in a story in order to report it. We have to be shown the irony in a political speech instead of discovering it for ourselves. We need to be told that the news, if it's good, can keep our attention because there will always be a punchline.
I know I'm going to catch heat from probably anyone who reads this. Thank God no one does! :) I know I'm right, though. Maybe I should become a newscaster!

On a totally unrelated note, it was one year ago today that my beautiful wife and I moved from sunny Fresno to wonderful Brentwood. Leaving my best friends has still been difficult for me to handle, but in celebrating one trip around the sun back in my home town has allowed me to return to my alma mater, my parents and Heather's mom, and the places that helped make me who I am. I live in a wonderful home, have great friends here, and enjoy the view of Mt. Diablo. On this Bastille Day, I'll be thinking back to all of the great times I experienced in Fresno but also be thankful for the move that has brought me to where I am now.