“Breaking News – Part Two

Author: Barrett Rainey

Where were we? Oh, yes. CNN’s “Breaking News” bulletin of the engagement of Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie who’ve been “living in sin” for years while creating a “family.” (See post below “Too often “Breaking News” is broken news.”)

It’s a “given” absentee ownership of broadcast media has contributed to news coverage that’s more limited in scope, is in the hands of many who can “read” the news but not “report” it, and is less in both quantity and reliability. The Annenberg Foundation and other reliable groups have found ‘tis so. I won’t argue.

In this vein, NBC Political Director Chuck Todd – one of the best – has opined national media – including his own – have become the source of “manufactured controversies” which are denying us coverage of real news. Especially in reporting on our current presidential political campaigns. He cites three: Etch-A-Sketch, the ‘hot’ Obama microphone and Hilary Rosen.

In order: Etch-A-Sketch was a comparison – made by a Republican on his own staff – of Mitt Romney who seems to change his positions on political issues more than he changes his shorts. Like an Etch-A-Sketch on which you draw words or a picture, shake it a couple of times and it disappears.

The “hot” microphone was when President Obama said something he thought was private and personal to Russian President Medvedev while in range of an open media microphone.

The Hilary Rosen brouhaha was after she said Romney’s wife had “never worked outside the house” so she couldn’t understand the problems of women who do. What Rosen meant to say was that a mother in a family with a quarter-billion-dollar personal fortune could not know the problems of a mother with an annual income of $25,000 or so. That’s not what she said but later said that’s what she was trying to say. It also should be factually noted that Rosen has no official connection with the White House or the Obama administration. Though she and the President are both Democrats. Didn’t keep the media kids from wasting time trying to connect dots that didn’t connect.

Todd rightly points out none of these three “stories” deserved the huge media coverage that went on ad nauseam. And ad nauseam. None were important. None were newsworthy. The relentless repetition by ALL national media was “manufactured.” And it was done so while other stories of real news value were shunted aside or not covered. In my view, this gay marriage overkill is more of the same.

I follow national news pretty closely. But I don’t know actual details of Romney’s current position on national defense, specifics of foreign policy or much else. He’s damned the administration for this-that-and-the-other while saying he wants to “return America’s greatness.” What the Hell does that mean? 1776? 1945? 1963? Don’t ask the national media. ‘Cause they haven’t asked him.

Todd also points out Romney called the President “incompetent” after North Korea had it’s fireworks show and blamed Obama for the launch. But no media types questioned the baseless charges. They just “reported” what amounted to nothing. The incompetence, as Todd said, was North Korea’s. As for the charges, Todd noted real experts in American foreign policy – in both parties – were alarmed at Romney’s knee jerk reaction and lack of anything coherent to say about this country’s relationship with North Korea. Either what it is or what it should be.

On Obama? I don’t know what he wants to finish from his first term and in what area, what he wants to undertake in his second four years and what his plans are if he has to deal with the same congressional mess he has now because this country can’t take another four years of political stalemate. But we’re getting an overload of B.S. about his personal support for same-sex marriage.

I’m a harsh critic of Fox News. From a professional journalist’s perspective, I believe rightly so. But CNN, MSNBC, the Associate Press, Reuters and the rest are just as guilty of this same “manufacturing” crap. While important facts we should know, and information necessary to create a more capable and better informed electorate go unrecognized, we get hours and hours of the same file footage over hours and hours of the same blather about “he said – she said.”

This country’s national political affairs are suffering because a lot of voters went to the polls two years ago and elected a lot of know-nothings who didn’t have a clue about the workings of government. Still don’t. But people were pissed. It was a case of an angry electorate – far too many unaware of how our civic affairs are conducted – electing other angry people similarly handicapped who turned out for the most part to be opportunists looking for new employment. I lay a lot of blame for that at the feet of the media. And a system of public education that has failed to require all of us understand the basic civics of government operation most other democratic countries obviously do more effectively.

Our Constitution talks of an “electorate.” It makes no mention of an “informed” electorate. That’s our individual responsibility. We have an educational system that has failed to assure we are informed. And we are saddled with a media inhabited by too many “professionals” who are equally as stunted in matters of government operation to further inform. Might say “they don’t know what they don’t know.”

Given those related failures – and the sad congressional proof thereof – it falls to each of us to do the homework to undertake the self-education to change things in our country. Answers are out there. And it has fallen to each of us to find them for ourselves.

The failure of our two trusted institutions of media and education have given us a third and a fourth – an incompetent and unworkable congress elected by a largely uninformed populous.

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