Earlier this week I was watching an interview of GOP presidential hopeful Michele Bachmann on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe”. Ms. Bachmann told the hosts and other assembled guests that she thought everyone should pay some sort of tax, even ten dollars, as she put it, so everyone has a stake in America. I fully expected Joe, or Mika or even Willie to ask the congresswoman from Minnesota how she could say this when she told an audience at a debate not too long ago that the ideal tax rate for everyone should be 0%. As I often do while watching TV, I asked the question aloud to Ms. Bachmann and waited for my trusted journalists to echo my words.
Anyone paying the barest of attention to the GOP presidential nomination race would have spotted this inconsistency yet the hosts of “Morning Joe” just let it slip right on by. Before anyone accuses me of being a partisan attack dog, look at the following three stories and tell me how much the main stream media has covered them:
- Solyndra — when we are supposedly fed up with crony capitalism this story of an ill-advised loan to a poorly run energy company with evidence pointing to undue pressure from the White House, has received relatively little attention.
- Fast and Furious — guns end up in the hands of Mexican criminals with the involvement of the US Justice department. Attorney General Eric Holder and other Justice staff give incorrect information to Congress. Depending on your politics, the deception was either deliberate or not.
- $7.2 trillion in tax payer money doled out by the Fed without congressional knowledge much less approval.
Now it’s not that you can’t find these stories if you search for them but they are hardly leading news broadcasts.
When I was a kid, television news came from the big three networks, ABC, CBS and NBC. News anchors were assumed to be objective. This is why when, for example, Walter Cronkite came out against the Vietnam War it was a major shock to the system. Now there are cable networks entirely devoted to news and two of them have an obvious bias, MSNBC on the left and Fox on the right. It is now possible to sit down to a night of “news” coverage devoted to portraying an opposing political viewpoint as either dumb, dangerous or at worst treasonous. This kind of reporting leaves out facts that interfere with the politics of the reporters.
The most important purpose of a free press is to accurately inform the average citizen. It is supposed to even the playing field and enable us to better participate in our democracy. It seems what we have now are sloppy journalists who don’t do their homework before interviews and let politicians get away with inconsistencies and contradictions or news professionals who flaunt their political bias.
One thing we didn’t have when I was a kid was the Internet. Now with Google and a little patience, we can weigh the differing sides of a story and come to our own conclusions. Each of us must become our own news aggregator. Either we do that or we wait until comedian Jon Stewart’s “Daily Show” covers a news item better than the so-called professionals will.