Sunday, July 12, 2009

The power of the media

In my last post I promised that I would continue writing about the dangers and the costs of having a society that is addicted to prescription drugs, and I will get back to that topic at some point. But over the past few weeks I have been struck by just how much power the media has over the minds of so many people in the United States and I couldn't really focus on writing about anything else. Why do so many people put a blind faith into the media, essentially allowing the TV to do their thinking for them?

Over the past few weeks the media has spent a great deal of time covering the life and death of Michael Jackson. Hour upon hour has been spent building him up, talking about his legacy and labeling him an icon. But what so many people who have been caught up in the emotion of the moment have seemingly forgotten is that this is the same media that has spent the last few weeks building Michael Jackson up as an icon and a legend are the same people that spent over a decade tearing him down and using him as a punchline. Since the summer of 1993 they had been accusing the man of being a pedophile and a child molester. How many hours of coverage did they dedicate to the accusations made in 1993? Accusations that were made by a man who was tape recorded saying "If I go through with this, I win big-time. There's no way I lose. I will get everything I want and they will be destroyed forever ... Michael's career will be over" Sounds like someone that is out for money, but no one will ever know whether the accusations were true or false, because there was never a criminal trial. No charges were ever filed against him, but he was essentially found guilty in the court of public opinion, all because of the massive amount of negative attention the media focused on him.

It is not my intention to make this post strictly about Michael Jackson or whether not not the allegations made against him were true of false. I couldn't do that if I wanted to, nor is that the important point to be made here. The lesson that people should learn from this, is that the media here in the United States does not have any honor, they don't have any dignity and they don't care about the truth. The only thing they care about is increasing their ratings by pulling on your emotional strings. Now that they've built him up again and created the image that he was an icon and a legend, they've pretty much milked that for what it's worth. So the next step is going to be tearing him back down by focusing on whether or not he had drug issues that led to his death. They are going to spend a great deal of time "reporting" on his doctor, and getting as many conflicting report from "friends" and family as they can about whether Michael was healthy or not leading up to his death. And you know what? Quite frankly, it isn't news. It should not be getting hours of media coverage, it should not be a focus of national attention.

Why should our national news be focusing so much time on the death of an entertainer? Shouldn't the news be focused on things that actually affect our daily lives? Why isn't there more coverage about where all that money spent on the stimulus is going? It was supposed to keep our unemployment rate from going about 8%, yet it's now at 9.5%. Where is the talk about the Cap and Trade bill, which if passed will cause electric bills to skyrocket and also lead to just about every good and service going up in price? Why should the death of a singer be getting constant media attention instead of what's happening in Iran or North Korea? Or the fact that our current administration is backing a dictator in Honduras that the people legally overthrew because he was trying to get rid of term limits, in an attempt to install himself as ruler for life? When will people wake up realize the news is not about the news, it's not about reporting, it's not about facts or truth, it's about trying to manipulate people's emotions, it's about sensationalism and it's about ratings. I want to end this post with a quote, it's from a legal ruling against 2 reporters who sued their local Fox news station after being fired when they refused to agree NOT to report a story about the potential risks of recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH) in milk: "The court's basis was that FCC policies on news agencies reporting the truth are not legally binding; and, as such, Fox had no legal requirement to report the truth in a news story"


  1. I couldn't agree with you more. I don't know if the media is a reflection of society's tendancy to focus on the negative aspects of a situation or if society tends to focus on the negative aspects BECAUSE of the media. Just like the egg and the chicken, which came first, I don't know, but they seem to go hand in hand. I have heard numerous friends comment on how they can't believe how much positive attention Micheal Jackson's death is getting because he was a pedophile and child molester. My response to that is... says who? Last I checked we lived in a country where you were innocent until proven guilty in a COURT of LAW, not by the media. I mean of course he could have been all those things, but you are right, we will never know. He never would have gotten a fair trial to begin with BECAUSE of the media attention.

    On another note, if I see one more thing about Jon and Kate (plus 8) I am going to scream. I admit I used to watch the show. When it was cute and there were no real issues. What is sad is that the ratings for the show have skyrocketed since they started having marital issues. People tuned in more to watch a train wreck and somehow forget that this is a family falling apart with 8 innocent children involved. I don't feel much sympathy for the parents, but the kids didn't ask for that, yet the media can't get enough of how unhappy they all are now. And the public is eating it up.

    The solution? I have no idea. I mean there are basic solutions, that people need to be careful what media source they get their information from, but it's tricky trying to decide which to believe when, like you said, most media is bias. People can research the facts for themselves, but even then it's hard to know what to believe and what not to believe. And learning to think for yourself? That just seems too hard... (note the heavy sarcasm).

  2. Yea, I would definitely say that society is also at fault for what we are seeing in the media. If people weren't so interested in following gossip and drama then it wouldn't get the ratings it gets, and it wouldn't be getting the media attention it does. But people love watching the stars get brought down on TV, and buying their stupid gossip magazines, so the rest of us are stuck with this crap. I think it boils down to those people being jealous of the people on TV and taking pleasure in watching them get torn down because it gives them a sense of satisfaction when they can get self righteous and think "well at least I never cheated on my wife/took steroids/had to go to rehab"