Everybody does it. George Bush did. Same with Bill Clinton.
Everybody loves to bash the media.
Bush wanted us to think he didn't like the media, especially
the hated TV Sunday talk shows. Yet he gave a medal to David
Brinkley, the host of a Sunday talk show. It wasn't the first time
a president said one thing and did another.
And in a Rolling Stone interview Clinton had some unkind things
to say about the media.
The general public likes to denounce the "liberal" media. Of
course, there are those who will point out that most reporters work
for owners who are not "liberal." So some charge that the media are
The media do not help things much by being smug.
If some charge the media are "liberal" and others charge the
media are "conservative," the media's representatives often say,
"See, we must be doing something right."
Others say it is Kill The Messenger Syndrome at work. Nobody
likes the bearer of bad news, which is often the media's job.
For a variety of reasons then, reporters are easy to hate.
What's going on here?
There may be yet another reason media-bashing is so popular.
The British Empire took years to develop. Because people had to
fight and die for the empire, a relatively democratic information
system was needed, one that would keep profits and recruits coming.
The BBC radio network and Reuters (which was a business information
as well as a news system) did just fine.
Then came the American Empire, which some called an era
(because empire had become a dirty word).
Following the American penchant for efficiency, information was
left to the firm. (You can bet that companies doing business in a
country know what's going on there, even if the media are focused
And we had the rise of commercial TV, which has become a
marketing and entertainment vehicle, to which news has been
appended. Its specialty is a few well-paid people who look pretty
and look the other way - and whose news judgment is, at best,
underdeveloped. (How many plastic police lines must we see, after
Often the best TV types had a newspaper background, and they
all looked over their shoulders at The New York Times.
Today the Cold War is over. Information has been privatized,
while news has become increasingly entertainment. It is not a
system that serves the nation well.
There have long been supermarket tabloids. …