False Media Narratives

There’s some truth in the Atlantic article written by Dave Rohde when he declares that the “broken” media has helped to “break” the government thanks to a business model that “rewards extremism and poorly informs the public”.

The triumph of opinion-driven cable TV and the collapse of newspapers has created an American news media that does an increasingly poor job of informing the public. And an excellent job of dividing it.

The media, of course, is not solely to blame for America’s political polarization. Complex dynamics – including a weak economy, gerrymandering and rapidly-shifting demographics – are fueling growing partisanship. But an economically battered news industry in desperate need of a new business model is a core part of the problem.

Creating cable television and social media bubbles where one’s political views are affirmed has proven popular and profitable. Angrily declaring one’s opponents imbeciles enriches pundits, corporate executives and stockholders. The result for many Americans, though, is confusion, cynicism and division.

I generally agreed with Rohde – especially his spot on characterization of today’s partisan media as one being obsessed with profits at the expense of truth – until he decided to blame the current government shutdown solely on the GOP:

Hard-line conservatives are to blame for the current crisis. But, sadly, so is America’s failing news industry.

Whoa, whoa, whoa. The current crisis is an equally bipartisan one. Barack Obama has essentially abdicated his responsibilities as president to govern. Harry Reid has essentially stepped in to do what Obama refuses to do – lead – but his form of leadership is the kind of obstinate partisan brinksmanship he rightly condemns when it’s practiced by a few Tea Party-backed Republicans. Whatever fantasies Democrats had about repeating the fallout from the government shutdowns of 1995 & 1996 – wherein the public held the GOP responsible for it – should be abjured given the present-day reality that the shutdown is proving to be as toxic to the Democrat brand as it is to the Republican one.

Polls after polls show that Americans across the board are rightly fed up with the partisan antics of BOTH parties & are demanding that BOTH parties get back to governing responsibly. The public is also turned off by a media-industrial complex that exploits the crisis for its own economic & ideological reasons. “I don’t believe what I read in the paper,” Paul Simon once sang, “they’re just out to capture my dime.” No wonder said industry is imploding.

In some ways the current crisis portends a reckoning between the forces that want to irrevocably transform America into a European-styled socialist democracy where the elite govern the masses & the forces that want to keep our country as a unique constitutional republic that limits the power of government in order to maximize the personal liberties of the people. We’ve had these showdowns before in our nation’s history – the one leading up to the Civil War was especially brutal – & the fallout will be nasty. But said fallout will become even MORE nasty if writers like Rohde continue to push the false media narrative that only one political party – the GOP – is to blame for the current crisis.

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