Friday, July 31, 2020

Is the Media Fair

I took the title of this post from a Trump/Pence campaign add, disguised as a survey, with the question  "Is the Media Fair" accompanied by a yes or no button, I wanted to press the no button but realized I had way too many questions about what they mean by "media" to answer yes or no. 

Based on what Trump has said about journalism, I think the question should be:  "do you think the media is being fair to me," then I would have to ask which media he means, and really does he mean fair as in: they may not like him as a person but can put that seething hatred aside and report on his presidency in an unbiased way?

Or does he mean fair as in only being nice to him, which if you are thin skinned, like how he appears to be,  unfair can be any time "the media" critiques his performance. 

This got me thinking about the subjectivity of what is  fair.

When I was a teen I was really into Depeche Mode-- I had a poster and at least  four of their albums and  could play parts of their songs on the piano.    Anyway, when they made  stops in my town I would read the reviews of their concerts in the local daily.   the reviewer mostly talked about how boring their concerts were and how he didn't understand why all these screaming teens in black loved them so much. 

After one such review I felt compelled to write to the editor and complain about this gross injustice,  the reviewer obviously wished he were at a Kiss or Motley Crue concert and couldn't appreciate the nuanced performance, the Artists in DM, put on for their fans.    Mind you I hadn't been to these shows, I just felt misunderstood, here was a critic that just didn't get it. 

The next time they came around I managed to get a ticket,  and honestly I found the show to be pretty boring: I could have put on a cd at home and saved myself some money.  there were no spontaneous jams,  no improvising and  with the exception of lead singer, they just stood at their keyboards, in a couple of songs one of the keyboardists  walked around with a guitar.   (New Order concerts were like this too).  By this point I wasn't the devoted fan I used to be,  but thought then and think now that the album they were touring on at that point was their best to date.  I had also been to enough concerts to have something to compare this one too.

Anyway, feeling like I had spent too much for my ticket, I opened the paper the next morning to a glowing review of the show,  written by someone who probably wore a lot of black, too much eye liner and undoubtedly had big hair (I can  poke fun because  I dressed like that back then too).
It seemed pretty obvious that the editor heard loud and clear that DM fans didn't want to read anything thing remotely objective about the show. 

This was 1990,  I was nineteen and had for the last four years been cultivating a collection of newspapers and magazines that I trusted to to give me world and national news.    It was around this time that I first became aware of the messaging from conservatives, which has been relentless the last thirty years,  that the media was biased against them.   I found it easy to dismiss them because they were the ones with all the power and of course they didn't like journalists holding a microscope to their goings on, ethical or not. 

Through the first Bush administration  and the Clinton years, I learned to listen to what presidents and their press secretary's say with a critical ear,  I extended this treatment to all the politicians and to any entity that was trying to sell me something, including the news outlets that I trusted.    (I love commercials by the way,  no matter how brilliant they are I won't buy the thing,  unless I actually need it).   Love For Sale!

    I am intelligent enough to know the difference between a news story and opinion, and I know that journalists and editors pick and choose stories to fit a certain narrative or spin, they know who their audiences and subscribers are and you don't want to make them unhappy, otherwise you lose business.    Im wondering now what would happen if everybody wrote in and demanded that news outlets  stick to facts,  and include expert opinion.   And what if everyone faced with a question from the president about whether or not we thought "the media" was being fair we simply said yes without regard to the media outlet.  (Im looking at you Disney)

It's not the job of news outlets  to placate us, it's to speak truth to power.  the president is not a teen idol and we are not biased concert goers,  leave that to whoever the current equivalent of Depeche Mode is and their fans. (I almost said Justin Bieber and realized he's kind of older now?)

The leaders we chose should  be welcoming the critical eye,  defending decisions in a way that respects the intelligence of the voter; The president  should be making a case for their policies to every citizen, knowing that those policies will be challenged and not jut to their base voters.

Besides,  asking us if we think "the media" is being fair looks a lot like a complaint from someone who doesn't want us to see what he is really up to, which is in my opinion un American.

"You can't change the world
But you can change the facts
And when you change the facts
You change points of view
If you change points of view
You may change a vote
And when you change a vote
You may change the world"

    Depeche Mode New Dress

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