School’s out here in North Texas and my school nurse wife will now be home a lot more over the next three months. That means I will be spending more quality time with her which will consist of a lot of home projects and honey-do lists. That means less time to devote to my blog so you will notice a cut back in what I publish from an almost daily contribution to one of 2-3 a week.
I’m also reading a lot right now. One book I mentioned is Richard Beeman’s historical account about the “plain honest men” who gathered in Philadelphia one hot summer in 1787 and changed our decentralized form of government spelled out in the Articles of Confederation to the new centralized form we have today as documented in our U.S. Constitution. I’m also struggling through a very dry and academic volume by Jacob S. Hacker, “The Divided Welfare State.” Hacker’s work addresses the relationship between the private and public systems by which workers benefits are collected and paid out and how both are dependent on the other to make needed benefits available to workers, the elderly and low-income families with children.
I’m also reading papers on the specific issues that address the economy, health care and global warming. I am hoping that once I consume this material I can write some updated and relevant posts that you will find interesting and will broaden our knowledge of such issues with a Progressive’s frame of reference.
From time to time then I will be contributing pieces that will mainly come from other works or videos that may pique your interests. Hopefully by the end of the summer I will be back at a level where time will allow me to post as I have been accustomed to, on a daily basis.
Let me leave you with this segment of The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. Last Thursday he interviewed Bill Moyers for nearly the entire program. Stewart is a copious reader and asks great questions of those people who he interviews.
Moyers is and has been the personification of what real journalism is all about. His critique of today’s “news” shows informs us that the media are less concerned about digging for the facts than they are with simply reporting the opinion de jour that they think will appeal to a more pop-culture oriented audience. But we all knew this didn’t we?
Moyer used a sports analogy to illustrate a central them of what journalism should strive for. Recalling the great hockey player Wayne Gretzky’s basic philosophy on the ice that “you go where the puck is heading, not where it is”, Moyers extrapolated this over to the field of journalism. Journalist “should try to see where the … news, the events are going. And to be there when it happens so we can put it in context. When you do that you gain a certain authority from being right more often than wrong.”
When Stewart asked him where he saw the biggest lapse that has occurred with journalism today Moyers responded with a line from Thoreau that called most forms of journalism today the “mere smoke of opinion”. The crux of the quote is as follows
“What every body echoes or in silence passes by as true to-day may turn out to be falsehood to-morrow, mere smoke of opinion, which some had trusted for a cloud that would sprinkle fertilizing rain on their fields.”
The failure of news outlets to present a REAL “fair and balanced” picture of events today is stifled by corporate self-interest that have consumed the once worthy profession of journalism for perhaps two reasons. The first is to control the message; a strategy necessary to increase their wealth and dividend share for stock holders. The second is to keep over all costs down.
These are accomplished by what Stewart called “the language of keeping things hidden, the language of deception” in reference to an interview that Moyers did on his PBS show with Susan Jacoby, author of “Free Thinkers”. Moyers went with that and explained that the news today is about what people want to keep hidden, mainly facts and truths that don’t always paint a pretty picture. What they don’t want hidden, Moyers says, is the opinions of others. “It takes a lot of money, a lot of time and a lot of effort to go and explore the facts and bring them out.’”
This essentially is where most news organizations are at today, especially TV; the medium that most people above thirty seem to get their news from. Moyers chastises the media for not doing the hard work of journalism and engage in activities that “explore the facts and bring them out”, but instead report on opinion, talk and all of that” which undermines their credibility and the institution of journalism itself.