Do we have blind faith in our government? Do we have blind faith in our Media? Do we believe that our government will always do what is in our best interest? Has the press skirted their duties by allowing party affiliation and personal feelings to skew their reporting and basically stop informing the populace? What is happening to our country? Is the government a monster of our own creation?
Let’s start by looking at the current press and how their reporting or lack thereof could be negatively effecting our government and the people they represent.
Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodard of the Washington Post, emerged as the most famous journalists in American History? Why? Between 1972 and 1976, they followed a story regarding a break-in at the Watergate Hotel and discovered a tangled web of deceit and lies leading directly to the White House and President Nixon. Because of a hunch, lots of research and investigation, they uncovered what we now know as “Watergate.” As a result of their hard work and unquenchable thirst for the truth, regardless of their political leanings, their story lead to the fall and resignation of President Nixon.
I think the journalists of yesterday helped to keep our government and its officials in check. They helped to keep them honest. No matter what political party you were associated with you still went out in search of the truth, the lies, and the deceptions. It seemed as though journalists of yesteryear were in the people’s camp. We were all in this together, and the constant scrutiny by the press kept our government honest and working for the people. We knew that if you were corrupt, you would eventually get caught. We could turn on the news and know that the stories they told us were based on fact, hard work, real journalism and truth. We never knew what party any of our news anchors favored. There was never an indication that they played for one team or the other. The prize was uncovering the truth, and keeping our elected officials honest.
I grew up in an era where journalism and politics were considered honorable professions. This is no longer true today.
Let’s look at a line from the Society of Professional Journalist’s code of Ethics:
“Members of the Society of Professional Journalists believe that public enlightenment is the forerunner of justice and the foundation of democracy. The duty of the Journalist is to further those ends by seeking truth and providing a fair and comprehensive account of events and issues.”
Do you believe this is happening in the reporting of the news today? The majority of bias in the news today is not necessarily the result of lies, but the omission of news stories that might not be consistent with their political leanings or their owners or advertisers. Stories might be omitted because they would not put the current administration in a favorable light. Instead of seeking the truth and keeping the public informed, it becomes all about politics, advertisers and money.
A perfect example of this would be the story of the IRS and their potential targeting of conservatives. Let’s look back to May of 2013 when the allegations against the IRS were first reported.
President Obama said,
“If in fact IRS personnel engaged in the kind of practices that have been reported on and were intentionally targeting conservative groups, then that’s outrageous. And there’s no place for it. And they have to be held fully accountable. Because the IRS as an independent agency requires absolute integrity, and people have to have confidence that they’re applying the laws in a nonpartisan way.”
When asked about the IRS scandal in an interview with Bill O’Reilly from Fox news, President Obama said,
”Not a smidgen of corruption. These kinds of things keep on surfacing in part because of you (Fox) and your TV station will promote them.”
Is that true? Is Fox news only telling the story to make the administration look bad, or is the IRS scandal, in fact, a real story? Let’s look at the facts surrounding the IRS case.
On May 10, 2013, The Internal Revenue Service apologized for targeting groups with “tea party” or “patriot” in their names, and that their applications for tax-exempt status were being improperly delayed and scrutinized.
In the beginning, all the major media outlets were outraged and covered the scandal with the zeal that the Watergate scandal brought about. But then, the coverage all but stopped by mainstream media. What happened?
Reports circulated that groups from both conservative and liberal groups were targeted. This was supposed to make the investigation null and void. If the IRS was targeting both sides of the political aisle, then it was no longer news?
In an analysis by the Media Research Center, The big Three networks devoted a whopping 34 minutes and 28 seconds of coverage to New Jersey’s Governor, Chris Christie’s traffic headache, which they dubbed “Bridgegate.” That is 17 times the 2 minutes and eight seconds devoted to the IRS scandal in the last six months. NBC featured 5 seconds, CBS with 1 minute and 41 seconds, and ABC a meager 22 seconds.
IRS Agents testified before Congress that the agency’s political targeting did not apply to progressive groups as Democrats and the media had claimed. Only 7 applications in the IRS backlog contained the word “progressive” all of which were approved by the IRS, while Conservative groups received unprecedented review and experienced years of waiting for their applications, most of which, have still not been approved. Twenty-four conservative groups were asked for their donor lists. The IRS told Congress that those lists were destroyed, however going through IRS files, they discovered three of the lists had not been destroyed. Of the donors on the lists, 10% were audited. The rate of audits on ordinary Americans is 1%.
Inspector General Russell George, according to his audit said,
“Our audit did not find evidence that the IRS used the “progressives” identifier as selection criteria for potential political cases between May of 2010 and May of 2012.”
The inspector general also stressed that,
“100 percent of the groups with “tea party,” “patriots.” and “9/12” in their names were flagged for extra attention.”
It was also proven that conservative groups were not only targeted, and harassed with IRS audits, but Lois Lerner was also cooking up plans with the Justice Department to criminally charge conservative groups, and emails were uncovered showing Lois Lerner was, in fact, sharing private taxpayer information regarding conservatives with the Federal Election Commission.
Still, no news reports from mainstream news.
In April 2014, Lois Lerner received a criminal referral from the House Ways and Mean Committee and new emails were intercepted proving she fed tax information on a targeted group to Representative Elijah Cummings (D).
Did we hear updates from mainstream? No. Was Elijah Cummings asked any questions about the shared emails? No.
When Congress demanded the emails from Lois Lerner’s computers, during the time period when this event occurred, they claimed her emails were lost when her computer crashed. Congress then discovered her hard drive was destroyed as well. Additionally, 6-7 other employees involved in the scandal also mysteriously had their computers crash, and their hard drives also destroyed.
Did this prompt reports on mainstream media? NO.
Based on this story alone, do you feel that the news is being reported? Do you feel that the mainstream media has your back? Do you think it is important for the United States public to know how and why and who was involved with the IRS targeting of Americans for their political speech and beliefs?
Regardless of your political party affiliation, it IS news. We, as Americans, should be outraged that the press is picking and choosing the stories they report to the American public.
Let’s look at some statistics.
“Surveys by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press among other polling and research groups show that about two-thirds of the general public cite television as their main source for national and international news, more than twice the number of people who rely on newspapers, and about 50 percent more than the growing number of U.S. residents who rely on the Internet (43 percent).”
Australian journalist John Pilger also captures this very well:
“Long before the Soviet Union broke up, a group of Russian writers touring the United States were astonished to find, after reading the newspapers and watching television, that almost all the opinions on all the vital issues were the same. “In our country,” said one of them, “to get that result we have a dictatorship. We imprison people. We tear out their fingernails. Here you have none of that. How do you do it? What’s the secret?”
Ben H. Bagdikian of the Media Monopoly said,
“The inappropriate fit between the country’s major media and the country’s political system has starved voters of relevant information, leaving them at the mercy of paid political propaganda that is close to meaningless and often worse. It has eroded the central requirement of a democracy that those who are governed give not only their consent but their informed consent.”
Daniel Terdiman, a journalist who has been published in Time Magazine, The New York Times, Wired Magazine and many others says,
“You can get so close to a source that you become part of the problem, he added. “Some people say that these powerful people use journalists, and they do. And they will use them to the fullest extent possible, right up until the point where the journalist says, ‘Whoa, that’s too far.’ [Journalists] shouldn’t be willing to water down the truth to protect their access to power.”
The World Press Freedom Index of 2014 rated The United States number 46th in the world for freedom of the press. What does that mean? In 2009, the United States was rated number 22 in the world. What is happening in this country?
Why are Americans more informed on movie star happenings, then events that affect their very lives?
I read an article after the IRS scandal broke where Bette Midler, said, thank you to the IRS for targeting tea party groups, who she sees as haters. My question to the “Divine Miss M,” would be, how would she feel, if the IRS decided to target red-headed singers/actresses? How about women with black hair? How about men with brown eyes? What about Christians? How about Jews?
You have to ask yourself one question. Should the IRS have the freedom and the power to target any American for their beliefs?
In this day and age of such polarization, we have to stand up as Americans and fight for the freedoms our forefather’s guaranteed us when this fledgling country was born. We must remember that government, especially in the past 5 years has divided us among families, political parties, religious groups, gay and traditional marriage groups, blacks against whites, males against females, rich against poor…and the list goes on. Why? As long as we are divided, government grows stronger and the United States gets weaker. We have to recognize that when we, as Americans, are divided, we have already been conquered and the government becomes a monster of our own creation!