“Trump colluded with Russia.”
“The machines don’t connect to the internet.”
“Two weeks to slow the spread.”
“Masks prevent the spread of covid.”
“Safe and effective vaccines.”
“Putin’s Price Hikes.”
“The Big Lie.”
While those of us blessed with analog-world experience can’t believe what “the media” has become, younger generations have never known a world without FoxNews and CNN painting contradictory versions of reality while ignoring the issues important to the viewers.
The Fake News phenomenon is a tale as old as time. Or at least as old as 18th century France…no, even Plato had something to say about public control of messaging (The Republic, Book X).
What is Truth?
When I attended journalism school in the late 1990s, I believed that the mission and purpose of the press was to hold the world’s power centers accountable to the truth. I still do.
The First Amendment gives the media incredible freedom to find and expose the truth, and they could use that freedom to hold the world’s power centers accountable to the truth.
But they don’t. In fact, the media is one of the world’s most powerful centers. Media is a business, first and foremost. That makes Truth a product.
In 1837, Thomas Carlyle wrote in The French Revolution, “Pamphleteering opens its abysmal throat wider and wider: never to close more. Our Philosophes, indeed, rather withdraw… A Fourth Estate, of Able Editors, springs up; increases and multiplies; irrepressible, incalculable.”
What Carlyle was describing – nearly 200 years ago – is today’s Fake News.
There is nothing new under the sun.
Mockingbird Pamphleteers overtook critical thought in 18th century France, replacing the “Philosophes” of the day – legends like Voltaire and Jean-Jacques Rousseau who stressed the use of human reason. Then people lost their heads.
According to the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, about $1.14 billion of the $2.85 billion spent on public broadcasting comes from federal and state government sources. During Covid, the government printed several billion in relief loans for major media companies. The Hill published a list and the amounts in 2020.
I’m sure it will all be paid back to the People. Those in government have proven to be such great stewards of the People’s resources.
The First Amendment protects media companies from being held accountable for lying to the American people. Even when those lies lead to $40M, multi-year, outcome-less investigations. Even when those lies tell us Joe Biden won the Presidency. Even when those lies coerce people to take experimental gene therapies. Even “Sudden Adult Death Syndrome.”
Their lies are protected. We should really fix that once we purge all the commies.
Still, while their lies are (for now) protected, the idea that we need to fund their “best-selling truth of the day” is a bridge too far (and probably to nowhere because, government).
Public broadcasting is irreparably biased. Failing for-profit media companies that cannot secure readers or develop a successful business model should fail. They’re likely being held accountable to the truth – before the government swoops in and bails them out with our tax dollars.
Remove the subsidies, and the market – the People – will determine what outlets will receive our time and attention.
Media relying on government favor and funding cannot hold the government accountable. It needs to stop. Now. Today.