January 27, 2017
If you make a car and the wheels fall off, you sold a lemon. If you make hamburger, and it’s contaminated, you’ve sold poisoned food. In all cases you’ve produced and distributed faulty products and there will be hell to pay. First comes bad publicity, government regulatory penalties, probably lawsuits and definitely long-term damage to your brand and reputation. Recalls.
What if your product is news? It’s different, because the Constitution protects writing and publishing from government regulation. Short of civil lawsuits for defamation or privacy, folks in the news business are free to print what they please. This is exactly what the Founders intended, but the news sellers do have one important check: their reputations. Sooner or later, the citizenry is expected to decide for themselves. It sure looks like the American people are finally deciding about Big Media.
Gallup polls show Americans’ trust in media “to report the news fully, accurately, and fairly” is the lowest level since they started measuring this figure in 1972. Then it was 72% trust overall. Today: 32% of Americans trust the news media. GOP trust is 14%, Dem 51%, and Independents 30%. If I were in the Yo-Yo business and 68% of Americans didn’t trust the quality of my product, I’d be in trouble.
American media may have jumped the shark with the Buzzfeed publication of the scurrilous, obscene—and totally phony document accusing President Elect Trump of wallowing with Russian prostitutes in urine soaked beds. This has been furiously denied. Even Buzzfeed, partly owned by NBC, admitted “there is some reason to doubt this allegation.” Then why publish? To embarrass Trump and assist the Democrats. Like most of our media, they have a pro-Democrat bias and agenda and fabricate narratives to support that agenda. It governs what they tell us and what they don’t tell us.
Republicans, Independents, and 49% of Democrats are unsurprised. In 2016, the masks came off. Our American news media openly accepted their role as the Ministry of Truth for the Democratic Party —and any Democratic administration. The contrast between their simpering lapdog relationship to the Obama White House and the Hillary Clinton campaign, and their ruthless unbridled ferocity toward Trump and the GOP was simply and stupidly obvious. There was no hiding that if they didn’t have double standards, they’d have no standards at all.
“Fake news.” This is the meme begun by the Democrats, probably to help President Hillary shut down Limbaugh, Drudge, and Fox News. To their horror, it rebounded on them. “Can we retire the ‘Fake News’ meme” lamented one Dem activist. “It’s been appropriated by the right-wingers.” Sorry, folks, people who live in glass skyscrapers shouldn’t throw stones. You want Fake News, where do you start? This year, last year? Katrina? There’s always Dan Rather. But check out Dan’s predecessor, the Great Walter Cronkite. Uncle Walter blew the biggest story of his career, the 1968 Tet Offensive.
North Vietnam gambled big time and threw everything into a punch to knock America out of the Vietnam War. It was a Battle of the Bulge situation: US forces were caught flat footed and the enemy made gains. But we hung on, and grimly battled to an overwhelming US victory. Walter Cronkite, however, announced on TV that we had lost. This broke the nerve of LBJ, who immediately opened peace talks with the North. This was Fake News that helped lose us a war. Thanks, Uncle Walter.
The Associated Press, source for so much media “fact” content? During the Iraq War, AP ran more than 60 stories critical of the US effort, sourced to “Captain Jamal Hussein.” When the US and Iraqi military finally challenged AP to produce the source, claiming it to be a fraud, AP editor Kathleen Carroll flatly refused. It turned out that “Hussein” was somebody else, and “his” claims were exaggerated. But AP never backed away. Tainted news in the middle of a war? AP shrugs. Take it or leave it.
So here’s the deal, news media: you’re done. We don’t believe you. Your products stink. You sold us tainted lemons for too long. So go ahead and denounce President Trump, bring out some more nasty “stories.” Serve us some ‘analysis’ from folks who were totally in the tank and wrong all last year. We don’t care. Go away. Or don’t, it really doesn’t matter. You have no credibility left. And I guess you forgot that in the end, your credibility was your product, and it was all you had to sell.
teaches Political Science at Oakland University and serves on the Board of the Regional Transportation Authority. He was elected to represent the 40th District in the Michigan House and was appointed Chairman of the all-important Appropriations Committee, responsible for the entire state budget. Prior to politics, Chuck was political columnist for the DETROIT NEWS, and has hosted talk shows for radio and television.