As Rush Limbaugh, of all people, said of Fox News anchor Bill O’ Reilly, “This man is Ted Baxter”, referring to the fictional newsman who represents the shallow idiocy of modern news media. It seems this is the era of fake newsmen who tell the news better than the professionals, where people turn to politicians for comedic relief and dramatic stunts like bringing snowballs into assembly and reading Green Eggs and Ham, and now using tweets as sources for policy discussions while claiming that all is well. It’s no wonder no one trusts anything in the media. While pundits may mock the recent Republican presidential candidate, Donald Trump, as supremely idiotic, they themselves have made many of the same comments themselves over the years. What the hell, USA?
Why is American news media such a disaster? The first and only problem in politics is money. Six corporations control American media. While that may be just above the number that can be successfully be counted on a single hand, this is an abysmal failure. The natural tendency of such a system is not necessarily a right or left issue, but naturally favors a pro-corporate agenda without needing explicit censorship, although there are clear examples of self-censorship from some prominent media outlets.
Just imagine, at the top of six large high rise offices, six CEOs, sitting comfortably in their gilded thrones, drinking martinis. That’s what is holding the politicians to account; the Fourth Estate at this rate is going to end up the Four on the Estate with the occasional trip to Mar-a-Lago, on “official business”, of course. This relationship is best exemplified by the White House Correspondent’s Dinner, one which seats all of the players in the inner circles of power in the same place.
This is not to mention the fundamental problem of American media, lack of substantive coverage of policy. The media has reverted to a golden age of “yellow journalism” where sensationalized terror is superior to the facts of a debate. In fact, it’s so bad that candidates are reduced to Twitter battles to win the presidency, the highest office of the land.
The US is the only country that doesn’t have a publicly funded media outlet like the BBC. Then what about NPR and PBS? American “public” media is only partially funded by the government while the rest depends on donations. For those who fear Big Brother, the British also have privately funded media of their own, including, iTV, Channel 4, etc. It’s just a single outlet that’s being suggested, nothing more. It actually fits far better than the current paradigm under the standards of the Communications Act of 1934, which states that the media should serve “the public interest, convenience, and necessity.”
If you’re not convinced, then just listen to former MSNBC host, Cenk Uygur describe his experience at a so-called leftist national media outlet.