Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Something we can all agree on ... by gimleteye

A bold suggestion: it is time to take back the "news" from the false prophets.

Broadcasting standards need to be applied to what passes for partisan news networks and commentators. Fox News started it, as an extension of Rupert Murdoch's brilliant idea of an empire built on salacious content. And Fox News now has company.

The current status quo is based on a simple, immensely profitable idea: "news anchors" or media personalities like Rush Limbaugh and Glen Beck take their talking points from whatever political interests that test as most profitable. That these "news figures" coordinate and often parrot each other's messages is simply to fortify through repetition the faithfulness and loyalty of target audiences.

Of course, there are true believers on all partisan sides of the media sundial; but the public needs to be informed in a fair and balanced way. Fox News thumbs its nose at the notion.

To complain that consumers are being manipulated is hardly forward thinking: this is the beating heart of the advertising industry.

But whether you are glued to Rupert Murdoch/ Roger Ailes or some other version of bias, you have to acknowledge the damage to democracy.

Yes: it is all being done under the banner of freedom of speech. But there need to be rules of engagement, just like there are in any contact sport, and penalties for violators.

We could go on, as we have, staggering like drunks or addicts from one election cycle to the next. But The end result is to prime our legislatures and governments for partisan gridlock and ceaseless antagonism. Where does it stop if reasonable leaders are not permitted to compromise, because the fanatics hold the advertisers' love? Civil war?

The influence of the news hucksters is such that they are dictating the terms of political engagement; not to make life better for people, but to make more money. Period.

I don't know where the leadership in Congress will arise, to engage this subject. Partisan media has turned the entire question of the media and political expression, radioactive. But look what's happened: it is proliferating cancer on our civic life. Are we too ignorant to stop what is polluting our politics?

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