How did the Media party lose their way?

Salon looks at how the media and politics have lost their way in the wake of the Ted Cruz rooting stories….and every other story of supposed scandal and sleaze and, yes, even the predilection of the media for whom I speak to or txt.

All of these conspired to blur the once-clear demarcation between gossip and news and between celebrities and candidates. We are, needless to say, the worse for it.

Indeed, one of the bigger ironies of our political coverage is that we know far more about the candidates’ personal proclivities and even their alleged transgressions – that is, their Enquirer profiles — than we know about their ideas for governing because, at this stage in the campaign, shockingly little has been reported about those ideas. And as I say repeatedly here, that is not likely to change because reporters and editors don’t want it to change, and won’t let it change.

Justifiably, Matt Bai places responsibility not exclusively on the media but on larger forces that dissolved our entire society into entertainment. We all know we live in what the cultural analyst Neil Postman called “The Age of Show Business” in which there is actually more show business news and gossip each night on television – see “Access Hollywood,” “Extra,” “ET,” and E! — than so-called hard news. And yet MSM reporters couldn’t just throw up their hands and succumb to the cultural tide. They needed a justification – perhaps even a self-justification – for pursuing what amounted to journalistic pornography. In effect, they needed cover.  

They got it with the rise of the highly elastic idea of character – a contribution primarily of the right-wing press that has proven to be convenient both for the conservatives (their discussions of character always seem to target liberals) and for the MSM. Though personal and private peccadilloes had long been off-limits, right-wing pundits, by suddenly insisting that character was as relevant to measuring a candidate’s suitability to be president as knowledge, judgment, experience and temperament, pushed moralism into our political discourse and pushed out common sense. And note that it was personal character that was said to matter, not political character – that is, whether one cheated on his wife and not whether one had, for instance, used government to help the wealthy and powerful. That’s what I mean by losing our bearings.

Where you get moralism, you are sure to find both sanctimony and sensationalism. It was really at that point, when conservative pundits began subjecting candidates, at least Democratic candidates, to the churchy, “holier-than-thou” test, and the MSM gleefully picked up on it, that the MSM were liberated to pursue their voyeurism unencumbered by ethical questions.

It was also at that point that the headlines of the Enquirer and its ilk turned from relatively harmless effluvium at the margins of the press to political character assassination at the center. To be fair, it is not only conservatives now who invoke character while rolling in the mud. Rachel Maddow has been talking way too much lately about Alabama GOP Gov. Robert Bentley’s “illicit” tape recordings of conversations with a female aide, and for no good reason.

Now the wall is down, and it isn’t ever going up again. But you really do wish there were more adults not only among the Republican aspirants but also among the reporters who cover them – adults who know the difference between tabloid news and political reporting, between the public right and public curiosity, and between voyeurism and journalism.

The Media party are now invested in the political process; they are players now.

But let them know this…if you are a player then you are fair game on the field as well….and I play a much more brutal game than all of them.

If they were the victim of a criminal hacker and had the media turn them into the “criminal” rather than the victim I suspect many of them would have run home crying. Some of them are still trying with their little proxies to “bring me down”…well fuck them. It won’t work.

What goes around comes around…double.

 

– Salon

 


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As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story. When he’s not creating the news, he tends to be in it, with protagonists using the courts, media and social media to deliver financial as well as death threats.

They say that news is something that someone, somewhere, wants kept quiet. Cam Slater doesn’t do quiet and, as a result, he is a polarising, controversial but highly effective journalist who takes no prisoners.

He is fearless in his pursuit of a story.

Love him or loathe him, you can’t ignore him.

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