COLUMN: The media failed this election year
The 2012 election season was a huge success for the American news media, as journalists and pundits brought you, the voter, truth and substance over —
Oh, who am I kidding?
We in the media have failed you this year. This campaign brought out the worst the news industry has to offer, and we’re worse off as a nation because of it.
When Paul Ryan was picked as the Republican vice presidential nominee, talk among Washington reporters and TV talking heads was that the election was finally going to be a debate between two distinct visions of America. Yet, that’s all it was: Talk.
Blame the campaigns all you want, but unless the media gives them a platform to broadcast those distinct visions to the public, they won’t even bother.
And why should they? Campaign coverage this year seemed to be built around gaffes more than anything else. If I had a dollar for every time a reporter or pundit spent time dissecting Mitt Romney’s “binders full of women” blunder or President Obama’s out-of-context “You didn’t build that” gaffe, I could pay off my student loan debt and have enough money left over to finally renovate the North Campus residential halls (And, boy, do they need it).
However, if I had $100 for every time the mainstream media focused on the myriad of issues facing the nation, why we’re facing them and what leaders in Washington are proposing to deal with them, I would still be facing a crushing amount of debt, meaning North Campus will remain stuck in the 1950s.
Worse yet, news outlets online and on cable were revealed to be echo chambers to which ideologues flock in order to have their beliefs reinforced rather than challenged.
I’m specifically looking at the conservative media this year, but don’t worry MSNBC and HuffPost, you’ll have your chance to shine/fail miserably eventually.
Fox News and other conservative news outlets, faced with a choice between enlightening their audiences and challenging Beltway wisdom or outraging their audiences in a desperate grab for money, decided long ago to follow the money.
In the fantasy world created by what former George W. Bush speechwriter David Frum calls the “conservative entertainment complex,” Obama is a socialist who seeks to destroy America and those who vote for him are parasites sucking off of the hard-working, real Americans. It’s absurd.
The role of the news media is to inform the public and to hold those in power in check. It’s not to play to the public’s fears and further divide the country in a cynical ploy for cash.
So, on behalf of journalists nationwide, I’d like to apologize. We’ll try to do better the next time. Don’t get your hopes up, though.
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