The recent election has brought the denouement of the mainstream media. Their polls were wrong. Their stories were biased. CNN gained the moniker of “Clinton News Network,” as the reporters were so OPENLY pro Clinton.
Election night found all the networks, save Fox News, in a state of boo-hoo disbelief.
The days that followed bought more tears, denial, anger, and a deep, frantic scramble to find some reason, any reason, something to explain why they had missed the consensus of the voter and gotten the message all wrong.
All straws were desperately grabbed and anything against the President Elect was acceptable, print it. The facts didn’t matter, just hear say, rumor or gossip, run with it. Some outlets admitting that the story or “dossier” they based their “news” on was fake from the beginning.
The despicable treatment of Donald Trump by the press, both before and after the election has caused the current rift between the media and the President Elect.
With no one to blame but themselves, they were called together in an unprecedented move by Trump, or any other elected official for that matter for a disciplinary session.
This was hardly what had been done in the past. The media outlets have traditionally been extremely pro-Democrat, giving the party all advantage and leeway, while Republicans have to dance, sing and try to gain favor with them. That will obviously not be happening during the Trump administration, and it is about time.
However, fake and sensationalized news that affects world events is not a new situation.
Yellow journalism has changed the course of history more than once in the United States.
Yellow journalism or yellow press, is a type of journalism that presents little or no legitimate, well-researched news and instead uses eye catching headlines to sell more newspapers. Techniques may include exaggeration of news events, scandal mongering or sensationalism.
This style of reporting was one of the catalysts that pushed the United States into war with Spain over Cuba and the Philippines.
Two major newspaper publishers, Joseph Pulitzer and William Randolph Hearst, were in a heated competition for popularity.
Both sources had been inciting anti-Spanish sentiment for some time, using Spain’s interest in Cuba to fan the flames of the public.
In February 1898, a US battleship, The Maine was sunk in Havana Harbor, (part of an exchange where Spain had a ship in the New York Harbor,) both Pulitzer and Hearst manned the rumor mill with reports of plots to sink the ship. (Even though first-hand observers reported that the explosion seemed to have originated within the ship.)
The sensationalism helped the US become embroiled in the Spanish American War by May of the same year, although not the only for this reason. There were other factors that pushed the point of the unrest between the US and Spain.
However, Hearst is quoted as saying, “You furnish the pictures, and I’ll provide the war.”
Many prominent figures in US history had been looking to expand overseas holdings, and as many wars are fought for territory, the Spanish American War was no different.
Yet the Yellow Press or Yellow Journalism did contribute to the sentiments of the American People, which shaped foreign policy in its day. It served in the same capacity in the next century by inflaming and exaggerating the European condition prior to the US entering World War I.
Do we have freedom of the press, or do we need freedom from the press? No one wants censorship, but what about accountability by reporters as to what they release?
Mark Twain said, “If you don’t read the newspaper, you are uninformed. If you do read the newspaper you are mis-informed!”
Also, “There are laws to protect the freedom of the press’ speech, but none that are worth anything to protect the people from the press.”
As usual, Mark Twain hit the nail on the head.
The relationship between the President Elect and the Press will be very different from past models. Trump put his First 100 Days speech on YouTube, sidestepping the press altogether, and maintaining intellectual rights to the property, avoiding the “out of context” habit in which the mainstream media loves to indulge.
With all the modern avenues of communication, the press is just one in a sea of competing venues.
It would behoove the press and those corporations who drive them to return to the definition of JOURNALISM (Webster 2b):
“Writing characterized by direct presentation of facts or description of events without an attempt of interpretation.”
Until this definition is actively practiced by all of the major media providers, the press will remain with the recently and emphatically earned moniker of DISHONEST and all reports are to be taken with a large dose of salt.
(Just be wary of The Enquirer, every once in a long while, they hit on the truth.)
Image: By New York Journal – New York Journal, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=1340031