A free press yes. Preening peacocks? NO

May 13, 2018

Coming home from work this past Thursday I decided to check out one of the “enemies of the people” as President Trump so often labels them, and turned the radio to CNN. Call me crazy, but I keep hoping they’ll return to their years ago past and that James Earl Jones “most trusted name in news” tag line will actually mean something again.

After the past 48 hours having seen the U.S. withdraw from Mr. Obama’s gift to the Iranian Mullahs, the escalation of hostilities between Iranians in Syria and Israel, three Americans returned safely home from North Korea, the Senate confirmation hearings of Gina Haspel to be the next Director of the CIA, claims for unemployment benefits remaining at levels not seen since 1969, and the Dow Jones Industrial Average joining its NASDAQ and S&P 500 cousins into positive territory for the year, I figured if CNN was going to get back to covering actual “news”, today was a s good a day as any.

But alas, once again I figured wrong.

The program was Wolf Blitzer’s “Situation Room” and not only were none of the above stories even mentioned, I wasted over a third of an hour on more “revelations” about Stormy Daniels, Michael Avenatti, Michael Cohen than even the National Enquirer would think twice about publishing.

I get it. Jeff Zucker, CNN’s CEO, hates Donald Trump. The staff, the producers, the anchors, and anyone with a key card to the building hates Donald Trump. It’s a daily dash to the bottom between CNN and MSNBC to see who can hate the President more. But at some point, if you truly want to be known for “news”, does not the personal need to be set aside just once in a while to report, oh you know, the NEWS?

With the truck parked in its place and I plopped into mine, I turned on the DVR. The show is Special Report with Bret Baier and yes, it’s on that “dumbed down for deplorables” channel, Fox News. (Or “Faux News as it is known in the “nose perched at permanent 45 degrees upward crowd.)

The lede was the 3 American citizens released by North Korea, followed by the escalation of hostilities between Iran and Israel over Iran’s forces in Syria.

Next were reports on the Farm Bill, rising gas prices and the stock market.

Gillian Turner then reported on the rise of artificial intelligence and President Trump “launching a new push to ensure companies use the technology responsibly and protect American consumers.” with a “House Republicans grip on power tenuous” clip to close.

All in the same time that Wolf was howling Stormy, Stormy, Stormy – Russia, Russia, Russia.

If you prefer your depth of world and national events to go no deeper than an aging porn star’s year’s old accusations, and a he said – he said between lawyers and paid “analysts” then that is certainly your choice.

What I vehemently disagree with however is CNN and other national outlets promoting themselves as objective news outlets and then filling hour after hour of TV time and pages of news print with tabloid tattling.

Hating Trump may be the beltway’s cause du jour but it’s not breaking news.

Yet I also disagree just as strongly with President Trump’s tweet from May 9, 2018 where he suggested taking away press credentials.

It is absolutely imperative that this Republic have a free and independent press, no matter how biased or unfair some of that press may be.

But in the end, what angers me the most is how a relatively few elites at but a few outlets use their enormous power and responsibility to “shape a narrative” rather than just “report the news”.

It does a terrible disservice to the thousands of print and television journalists working in local and regional outlets that truly do give their all to bring their readers and viewers the unvarnished truth of a story.

If the stench of biased, activist “reporting” remained on the coasts that would be one thing, but it doesn’t. It spreads across the land with an odor as repugnant today as it was during the yellow journalism of old.

America needs strong local and state reporting now more than ever.

But the incessant yapping of Wolf and the pack only makes the work of those who don’t have make-up artists and assistants at their beck and call that much harder.

The fallout is a less informed public and a more powerful political class. The very thing the preening peacocks claim to be fighting against.

Just a little perspective for you to consider should you encounter one of your own local reporters any time soon. Oh, and it wouldn’t hurt to let em know that you like the smell of a free and independent press in the morning.

Publisher Note:  A version of this column first appeared in the May 13, 2018 print edition of the Joplin Globe.

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