It's hard to realize how awful the TM really is until you're totally reliant on it for news.
For most of the past month (and a few days to a whole week episodically in the last few months), I've been without a working computer (it's now been thankfully been replaced by Dell). I've had to completely rely on radio and television for news and the RW leaning Milwaukee Journal Sentinel coming on Sundays. I have reached the following conclusion:
The traditional media I'm surrounded by is far worse than I thought!That's right. As bad as we all think our media is, it's actually far, far worse.
There was a whole lot happening, like plea bargains and sentencing in the John Doe Probe that I actually knew nothing about because it wasn't reported. At all. The only reason I found out about the Kelly Reindfleisch sentencing and the inclusion of Scott Walker in the list of those connected with the illegal campaign activities is by reading the newspaper while my car was being serviced for routine maintainence. Otherwise, I would have known nothing. Zip. Zero. Nada.
Nothing on the radio, nothing on television. For the average citizen, nothing was happening outside of car crashes, crime, and the typical local reporting that makes me turn off the news. Joe Lunchbucket and Jane Worksalot know nothing that really matters because they're not told anything that matters.
To me, it's a BFD that a prosecutor puts the Governor of the State of Wisconsin on a list of people who did wrong on the taxpayers dime. And, unless they are plugged into real news or news blogs on their computer or get the daily newspaper (the vast majority don't), they don't even know it happened. I've known for years that our media has ignored or whitewashed Scott Walkers failures and promoted him to the skies, but never realized the state of ignorance they inflict on our citizens day by day.
Small wonder people voted to retain a radical extremist Governor when they aren't ever given the information they need to make a decision.I can forgive them for voting for that douche in 2010 because the media did an effective job in hiding the facts about Scott Walker (like all of these) and promoting him as a solid and credible leader. They didn't know that Walker himself, while Milwaukee County Executive, used his authority to delay an annual budget report for several months (until after the election) in order to hide an enormous deficit that he would stick taxpayers with after he left to become Governor (debts we will be paying for years to come that have already left us repeatedly slashing public services and stripping even more from the wages and benefits of public employees than even Scott Walker would have wished for).
Even when the report was finally made and the deficit, because it wasn't revealed and mitigated, became even higher, there was no mention of the delay in the report caused by Walker or demands on how Walker could have mismanaged things so badly. Nope. Not a word about it until a Democrat stepped in to become the Acting Milwaukee County Executive. Only then did it become a outrage and immediate action was demanded.
Ditto his lack of maintaince on County facilities even when a chunk of concrete fell from a Milwaukee County parking structure and killed a man. Nope. Plenty of outrage on the department that managed the place, but nothing on the man who took the funding for maintaince away. Maybe Walker thought Jesus would miraculously maintain his buildings for him. For free.
Ditto his lousy department heads and crony hires which I, having worked for that clown, was well aware of. He hired faithful Republican lackies whose management skills were totally lacking, but didn't even have the skills or experience to work in the departments they were paid to oversee.
Scotty looks like he has the power of Teflon only because the media doesn't report anything that might stick to him.
Since the replacement computer came and got set up by my computer guy, I've spent a larger than usual amount of time trying to catch up on all the news I missed in the previous 2 weeks. Thankfully, and by accident, I discovered that I was able to see and read the DK front page and recommended diaries on my pre-paid cell phone. While I couldn't sign in, rec, or comment, I could read and stay informed about important national issues. Not so much, though, for local news and information and that's exactly how and why RWNJs get into state and local office.
And it's at the local level where most of our electoral problems occur. People vote for against their own interests not just because they get riled up with anger, bigotry or fear, but because they really aren't informed about who they're voting for. When newspapers and electronic media become corporate-controlled, they support politicians who work for the interests of those corporations rather than those who promote the interests of the people they are supposed to represent.
Just like Scott Walker, Paul Ryan has been re-elected with high margins because he has been allowed by our media to continue to present himself as a handsome moderate. It was only his national exposure as the father of a radical RW budget that awakened some in his district. His recent re-election was by his smallest margin ever and assured by massive amounts of political advertising that outspent his opponent. In addition, his refusal to even debate his opponent wasn't considered newsworthy enough to report. While Ryan got plenty of newspaper ink and over the air coverage, his opponent received little to no attention.
It's not the fault of people in his district. They were simply not informed by the corporate media.
People are busy, many working more than one job or coming home to attend to the needs of their families. While it would be nice for them to educate themselves, that's a pretty big expectation of folks who are so pressed for time they don't often get a full night's sleep.
I won't ever blame people for voting against their own best interests. I'll start blaming the media, the only non-governmental organization that was considered to be so vital to the preservation of democracy they were given their own "rights" in our Constitution. They have failed us. Completely.
While there are shining lights out there, more and more of them are being extinguished or bought out by corporations. Ditto great reporters and great reporting. They're being supplanted by propagandists, talking heads, strategists, spokespeople, and talking points as well as the illusion that every fact has 2 sides to it (particularly when the facts aren't supportive of the right wing agenda). Foxaganda doesn't come just from Rupert Murdoch's network anymore.
We need to be better informed as an electorate. As things are now, advertising changes minds, influences public opinion, and no longer even has to be based in reality, truth or facts. We are told every issue has "2 sides" to it when there could be only 1 side or maybe even 3 or more sides. We're told "both sides do it" when it's painfully obvious that only one side does.
We're give spin instead of facts, opinion instead of news, propaganda instead of reality, and lies instead of truth. This must end.
Providing information should be the only function of news and providing news used to be the only requirement for the use of our public airwaves. One hour every day given to informing the public in exchange for 23 hours every day used to make profits was the original bargain. It is no longer enforced and the Fairness Doctrine has been strangled to death by media corporations.
While we celebrate the continuing demise of the TM, we need to recognize that there is nothing to replace it for the majority of Americans who are too busy, too tired, too poor to afford a computer or internet service, or otherwise unable (or unwilling) to search out news themselves. We must work to create a better, more widely available means to inform people of the news they need.
Our democracy demands it.
PS for those of you that think I should have just ordered the daily newspaper: I don't take the daily newspaper because the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel is a RW rag which has been fondling Republicans ever since our morning and evening newspapers merged into one entity. I take the Sunday edition only (at a very discounted rate) because it gives me unlimited access to their online content. I also didn't know how long it would be for "relief" of my ongoing news ignorance or how difficult it would be to drop down to the Sunday on and get my discounted rate.