Saturday, September 22, 2012

The Media and the Issues

You would think that the US economy was booming and all was right in the world if you are a regular listener to the major TV and radio outlets in America.  Recently, I was in Eastern Europe and was pleasantly surprised to read in foreign newspapers the issues that Americans face in the upcoming election -- the economy, foreign policy, the deficit, etc.  Back home, these issues don't seem to be of any interest to the media.  Such issues are of interest to voters, but they rarely see them discussed on NBC, ABC, public TV and the like.

The big issues, according to US media, is whether or not a presidential candidate is willing to release their tax returns from decades ago or sidebar comments the candidates may have made before they were candidates that have absolutely nothing to do with any of the important issues.  The media is in the "gotcha" business.  It isn't just that they favor one party or another, it is more that the media doesn't really seem interested in mundane things like unemployment, the deficit, burning embassies, dying ambassadors, war between Isreal and Iran.  Instead it is more important, according to the media stars to worry about cosmetic issues.  "Does Romney connect with the average guy?"  "Is Obama no longer cool?"  These kinds of nonsensical discussions dominate the news coverage of the American presidential election.

No wonder the public knows so little about the issues of our day.  Anyone who spends their time watching the major news media or 'public television' or listening to 'public radio' is likely to become an expert on what dress size Michele Obama wears but is likely to have no idea what goes on in the Middle East or how the American economy is faring, since the latter topics are rarely if ever discussed in the major media.  There are, fortunately, media outlets that do address the major issues of the day.  The "City Journal," for example, published by the Manhattan Institute is a serious publication that addresses issues faced by the American citizenry in a thoughtful, serious way.  They are not the only good source of information.  One issue of City Journal will provide the thoughtful American with more real news and information than a decade of the NY Times and Washington Post.

An uninformed electorate is likely to make some serious mistakes.  That seems to be what the media is counting on.