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Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Fit to print?

Dear American Journalists,

I hate to be the one to tell you this, but you have all, individually and collectively, 
Lost. Your. Minds.

I'd like to be able to blame "social media" as the source and circulation of conspiracy theories. but, baby, it's you. 


It's the once noble, admired and respected "Fourth Estate". 

You've all become 4th graders on a playground of information. "Mine, mine, mine!" You practically squeal. "I got the information first." "This is my news scoop. My take. My smart response. My snark. My snappy comeback. My QOTD. My wit. My personality."

It's suddenly not about the news.  It's the various news reporters and "TV personalities" who have become the news. It's a weird kind of narcissism, this writing about and reporting on yourselves and what you think about "the news" - which you have made "the news". Because you are, apparently, a "personality" and are allowed to do that. 

"The news" for days after The Commander In Chief Forum was less about what either of the candidates said, even though one may have overstated her case and made a promise she couldn't keep and the other did what that other candidate always does: lies. Bold face. Tight screen. 

No, the news story was all about how the moderator, the venerable daily television host, the mild and gentile Matt Lauer, totally blew it. That was the story. Not the forum. The story about the forum was the story about the journalist who was suppose to moderate the story of the forum. but, instead, had an epic fail - blatant, ugly sexism being only one of his many flaws.

Andrea Mitchell - Andrea Mitchell, for God's sake! - was actually reduced to playing five (5!!!) Very Long seconds of Hillary coughing on her MSNBC show yesterday. 

Coughing! Which was to prove... what? That Hillary has a cough??? That Hillary has not been - gasp! - "transparent"? About a cough???? 


I hate to be the one to tell you this, but your standards have slipped. And they are showing. 
You now practice a kind of "tabloid journalism" which isn't concerned about facts and information, much less uncovering the truth. It's all about chasing whispers and rumor. 

You don't report facts, you repeat innuendo and conjecture. 

You practically salivate over it. 

And, you don't hold your colleagues accountable when they are blatantly prejudiced in their reporting (but, don't get me started on the whole Rachel Maddow, Matt Lauer thing). 

Here's a news flash: There's nothing in Hillary's damn emails. There's no "there" there. Stop talking like a first year law student in litigation class. It doesn't "go to the issue of transparency". Neither does it reveal "a pattern of behavior".  

That's not the news. The news is the content of her emails and whether or not she is involved in a "pay for play" scam or broke security. 

She isn't. She didn't. Report that. Move on.

And, stop with the "false equivalency" reporting. You don't justify the lies of one candidate by trying to find something wrong with the other. You don't repeat the lies and misinformation from quacks about one topic like climate change and then report what "other scientists" (who are the Real Scientists, the others being people who barely graduated 8th Grade Science Class but were the president of their Debate Team) say about what's really going on in the world. 

You're a JOURNALIST. Act like one. Report the news.  

This is basic stuff, people. Journalism 101.

Has anyone asked why we need to know that Hillary has pneumonia? Well, only because the "conspiracy theorists" over at Breitbart ... um... "news"  have been saying she has much worse. 

"Syphilis," I heard one man say authoritatively, "she got it from Bill."

Ah, see! That's a great 'twofer" Stick it to Bill AND Hillary in a one sentence, all purpose, handy-dandy conspiracy theory that provides evidence of her not being fit for public office by reason of association with a man who - unlike you - was only caught with his pants down. 

Hey, maybe what if there's some truth to that. I mean, he was such a philanderer, right? Could it be? Roll that film of Monica and Bill again, would you? The one of her in that beret and them hugging in a crowd? Hmmm.... maybe there's something to these conspiracy theories????

Hey, people of the media! Here's a news flash: No. There. Isn't. The only "something" to conspiracy theories is what you already know: Conspiracy. Oh, and Theory.

We used to have a word for that when I was in school. We called it GOSSIP. Indeed, we were encouraged not to engage in it. "Shows weakness of character," I remember Sr. Mary Aloysius saying, adding "which is a sin you'll have to confess. And, repent. Father will give you at least five 'Hail Mary's and one Our Father' which, if you ask The Virgin to help you, will remove the stain of gossip on your weak souls."

Oh, and it's also about this: Money. "If it bleeds, it leads". Isn't that what some of your editors say? 
But, this is not even about money. It's more than that. It's about greed. Which is an addiction, all on its own. You are all binging and purging on information and mis-information which passes for news which keeps the cash register humming. And, your bosses happy. 

Say, didn't your bosses used to be called "editors"? Now they're called "news executives," right? Hmm . . . wonder what that's all about ....... 

Here's another question: What about 'right to privacy'? Where are the lines for "public officials"? If we have a right to ask if men if they wear 'boxers or briefs' do we have a right to ask Hillary if she wears panties or thongs? Do the American people really need to know?

Can Hillary - or any candidate for - or holder of - public office - be allowed a few shreds of privacy about her own damn health? Without having her integrity questioned?  

Unless, of course, you are Donald J. Trump and have no integrity. Then again, like so many other men, he also has "magical testicles" which apparently prevents him from getting tired or getting sick or having any real criticism against him stick and have any effect.

I mean, did you even READ your colleague David Fahrenthold's article in the Washington Post about the FACTUAL, DOCUMENTED CORRUPTION in the Donald Trump Foundation? 

Apparently, when some of your colleagues in print journalism actually do the work of journalism, you don't even have respect for that. 

What is wrong with you????

Men and women of the Fourth Estate, PLEASE, get a grip!!!

Snap out of it!!

We deserve more.

We demand more.

We want more than "All the news that's fit to print."

We want "ONLY the news that's FIT to report."

Thank you. Now, back to work, the lot of you. This is serious. We've got a President of the United States of America to elect.

The whole rest of the world is watching.


Mike R. said...

Dear Elizabeth,

I have decided that the talking heads have actually descended into what I call "politi-porn" revelling as it does in the grimest memes they can find. It is the cousin of Marvel/DC "urban destruction porn" where a bazillion buildings and people get blown up in the middle of superhero fights.

Politi-porn is crafted to attach to the same prurient genes that regular porn and urban destruction porn activate. So I have just stopped watching them all.

Michael Russell

Nan Evans Bush said...

As I just posted to my Facebook people, I can't share this fast enough or loud enough. God bless you for saying (so inimitably) what has needed to be said. I hope it goes viral twice over.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Michael - My TV watch list is now so short I can't use it to wipe the corners of my mouth. TRMS? Off. Andrea Mitchell? Off. Morning Joe? Off. There are more but I'm done with them all. Done.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Thanks, Nan. I just want the journalists to listen. Please.

8thday said...

There is no point in complaining about the unhealthy fat content of McDonald's food if one is still going there to eat it. The easiest solution is to just turn it off. There are plenty of places to research the policy stands of the candidates without all the "editorial" fat.

I couldn't agree with Mr. Russell's comment more.

Unknown said...

I, too, appreciate your clear expression of my thoughts and feelings. We are being fed so much "junk food" that it's almost impossible to cut through to the organic kernel of truth. Sorry about weird metaphors....

I will share this --- and, fortunately, have many friends who will appreciate it and pass it on, too.

[Hi, Michael Russell!]

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

8th Day - To push your metaphor, McDonalds has been pressured into offering healthier choices. Now, kids, for example, can get apple slices as an alternative to french fries. There are also salads and wraps. It also significantly reduced the fat in their burgers. That came about because of consumer pressure. My point? I don't want to let them off the hook. I think we can do the same with Media Outlets.

8thday said...

The change in MacDonald's menu came about because sales of unhealthy foods were falling off. One can only hope that if people stop patronizing bad news outlets the media will be forced to do the same. Sadly though, I doubt it. We have become an audience with the attention span of a soundbite or tweet.

I just ran across this quote that made me think of your post:

"They kill good trees to put out bad newspapers."
- James G. Watt