What was the first thing you used to do in the morning? If you are like the rest of us, you checked your phone to see what fate awaited you that day. You wanted to know the weather, the commute, if there were any school closings or what your schedule was like. At least, that’s what we used to do. Not anymore. In our constant state of despair, chaos and confusion, we now look to see just how bad things became while we were sleeping. Did we miss anything? You frantically check your social-media accounts and the news through a cynical lens, as you have no idea what is real and what are “alternative facts.” Yes, you used to look just to the news for these updates. But no longer. Our so-called watchdogs of society, known as the free, open and honest press, is dead. It happened slowly with the advent of the 24-hour news cycle. As we became hungrier for information, the news media evolved into an entity that was desperate to appease us, and their advertisers ventured more into the absurd. We made stars out of reality television personalities and covered every single celebrity’s flawed relationship. When we had the time, we watched the actual news. We became more and more distracted and looked for an escape. An escape we used to have in our communities was replaced by a thirst for vapidity, not knowledge. Enter Donald Trump. Consider this quote by Les Moonves, then head of the CBS Corporation. He told an audience that Trump’s candidacy: “May not be good for America, but it’s damn good for CBS.” Moonves went on to crow that “the money’s rolling in...this is going to be a very good year for us.” Journalism used to be one of the most respected institutions in America. It’s written into the First Amendment of the Constitution. Why? Because the press is supposed to question everything for us. Keep up informed with balance and coverage from both sides. We USED to have media figures who reported the news just for the sake of what happened that day and what the implications may be for us. There was a nobility to it. The job came with a sense of purpose. No longer. The “if it bleeds, it leads,” mentality of mainstream news has become only that. There is nothing balanced about it. The newscasters have made themselves the news. And they fail us for this reason. In the United States of Distraction, authors Nolan Higdon and Mickey Huff contend: “Whether or not the people of this country allow authoritarianism, disinformation and corporate control to be further normalized depends on what we, the American people, do to strengthen ourselves, our public-interest networks and our democracy.” So it’s up to us to decipher the noise and demand more from the media? Then, we need to read more and look at different sources of news from around the world, because the American mainstream media has effectively become a PR machine. There are, of course, honorable exceptions here, and we can name our own favorites that report the news we believe to be balanced. However, that we have to do any of this at ALL is the result of a failed institution. We are not all journalists. Why are we searching for the truth about what is happening in our government? We turn to social-media outlets, but the FCC does not treat them as news organizations, so they end up policing themselves. Some do it better than others. Because the journalists are the celebrities, they tend to underestimate the importance of the truth and normalize the unthinkable.
Donald Trump is a demagogue, a wannabe dictator, with not much depth to him. And, yet, some reporters recoil from him, afraid of a mean tweet or having their press passes confiscated. In the end, the American mainstream media are in such denial, they helped create this dictator we have in office. They literally don’t know how else to cover him, so they normalized him and his crooked family. They shouldn’t. Every journalist needs to take a cue from S.V. Dáte and call him out for his fabrications, not sit in silence while he is at the podium spewing hatred, lies and conspiracy theories. We need more anchors like Rachel Maddow and Joy Reid, and more fact-checkers like CNN’s Daniel Dale. Many journalists don’t want to cover it for what it is, because what we have become is frightening and beyond our depth of understanding. In short, the media does not want to cover a failed democracy, because that means they failed us. The recent RNC convention was so full of lies it was hard to keep up with all of it. In the scramble and madness of it all -- no social distancing, no masks, the obvious lies about law and order -- the media once AGAIN normalized it. You know what some in the mainstream press covered? Melania Trump expressing sympathy for the suffering of COVID-19 victims and their families. They praised her. They spoke of her dress, her hair and her rose garden. The first family is NOT normal, and this is NOT the way an American president behaves. He is a dictator, and he will try to steal this election. Our only focus should be on the issues of importance. Our president is compromised. Our GOP is compromised. There is no need to cover any of this as if it’s normal. If he is allowed to continue in this role, AMERICA is compromised and we fail. And those ratings? Well, they won’t be worth a damn penny.