I’m going to agree with Sara Palin for a second here. The mainstream media (correctly nicknamed the lamestream media by Palin), is fixated on the gottcha moment (while her use of the term was clearly misapplied).
Reading reviews of “The Unknown Known,” Erroll Morris’ excellent new documentary about former US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, the criticisms of the movie are that Rumsfeld was allowed to talk too much, but never hang himself. The reviews want a gottcha moment, and it never provides the sound-bite that our media has been developed to only care about these days. Rather than see the 90 minute self-character-assignation that the film clearly is, they are left upset that Rumsfeld never flat out says he was wrong about any of his decisions regarding America’s war on terror.
It is no wonder that our news media was unable to hold Rumsfeld’s feet to the fire because they were unwilling to see his statements in a broad sense, only in answer by answer. Comedy Central’s The Daily Show is about the only major media source that I’ve seen that actually compares previous statement to each other. When one day Rumsfeld claimed the sky was blue, then the next said it was purple, most major outlets lacked the desire for perspective or history to compare the contradictory statements. The Daily Show, on the other hand, makes a living out of overlaying ignorant statement upon contradictory ignorant statement. Our media outlets seem to have no memory, and no focus on news citizens need to know.
One of my favorite examples of this is the Exon Valdez story. In one of the first major press conferences, Exon mentioned a low end estimate of oil spilled, when a follow up question was asked, the next words from the speaker’s mouth were that alcohol was suspected to be at play. The entire room in a matter of nanoseconds had been distracted from the important issue, to the squirrel running across the stage. To this day, we do not have an accurate estimate of spilled oil. Our media has no ability to…. whoa, is that a Kim Kardashian nip-slip!
Luke Held is the proud father of two critical thinkers in Seattle, Washington. He believes in the founders’ vision of an informed electorate through strong media and press, and feels that it has abandoned this mission letting profits become its driving force. He believes that a key to righting the American ship is to call out our news media when it fails, and help others to consume media intelligently.