Normally I avoid being political, especially on my blog. The primary reason is practical. I want people to read my blog and to follow it no matter their political inclinations or affiliations.
Additionally, my blog is about cinema and literature; thematically it is about crime. And though I’ve been known to stretch the framework a bit, I like to keep it within this wheelhouse.
However, recently I heard something that scraped an exposed nerve so brazenly that I’m going to veer off course. So be forewarned.
Here is what I heard, verbatim:
“I will tell you that all the cable TV shows in the world, all the front pages of newspapers in the world, all the editorials, all the tweets in the world don’t matter a hill of beans when somebody you know walks up to you and says, ‘Let me tell you why I’m voting for Donald Trump. Everywhere I go in this country … I’m just telling people, go tell somebody. Because the sheer weight of you taking time to find somebody at work, at worship, outside the drug store, and just saying, put that great make America great hat on again, and just walk up to them and say, ‘For real, you know me, let me tell you why I’m so passionate about this.’ Because word of mouth is still the most powerful media in America, and it always will be.”–Mike Pence
This statement from our Vice President sounded an alarm with me because it is a variation of something that I have heard many times growing up from my late mother (a self employed hairstylist) and have said myself (as a small business owner):
“Word of mouth is the best advertising.”
So then, this is what it’s come to? It hasn’t happened overnight or in a vacuum, but here we are being encouraged by our Vice President, albeit it cleverly, almost subliminally–just like when we are coerced into to buying a bag of Oreo cookies or a SUV–to forgo professional journalistic reporting for word of mouth. Insidious. Ridiculous. But true.
Now before I go any further let me be clear, I do not revere the press, e.g., journalists, the mainstream media, etc. Hardly. In fact, I do not revere anything except God.
That said, I used to have a deep respect for journalists. No more. That’s because they’ve headed straight for the pile of excrement and not only stepped in it, but drug all of us through it in the process.
That’s right. They did it willingly.
They did it when they deluded one of the basic principals of their profession:
Journalists are expected to probe, to investigate, to gather information and report it objectively, in an equitable manner, so that we the people can make an informed decision. Hence we are not supposed to have stories presented from cherry picked facts and Republican and or Democrat news networks. We are not supposed to–but we do.
Little wonder that we are a divided nation touting our caste system of blue states and red states like the gang territories and colors of the Bloods and Crips. It has been said that we have entered a cold civil war. I believe it.
How did we get here? I think I have an idea.
You see, I come from a one television set family. Consequently, I watched more news than the average kid or teenager. From an early age I was aware that the news media leaned left. Notice that I have emphasized the word leaned.
So then, let’s look at the word lean. Let’s examine the contextual Merriam Webster definition:
To tend or move toward in opinion, taste, or desire. “She leans toward the city life.”
Now let’s look at the word point and examine its definition contextually:
To show someone the direction in which they should go. “Could you point me in the direction of the lobby?”
Is there even anyone who denies that the mainstream news media has traditionally leaned toward the left? I dare say no.
The mainstream news media has not, however, traditionally pointed toward the left. This phenomenon has happened only within the last ten years when MSNBC took a blatant hard turn to the left, supposedly to counter and to compete with Fox News’ hard right reporting. Lately MSNBC has made some overtures at returning to more centrist based reporting style but their emphasis still decidedly points toward the left.
Ergo, the left leanings of the press have hardly been benign. They have irked and isolated those on the right and have given rise to Fox News which has become a virtual appendage of the Republican party and almost a rubber stamp for the Trump administration. Notice I have emphasized the word almost.
That’s because there has been some rumblings of late about President Trump on even this proud bastion of the right, namely from Fox News anchor and commentator Neil Cavuto. Cavuto has blasted Trump repeatedly, since May, on issues like his disastrous press conference with Vladimir Putin, on saying he knew nothing of payments to Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal and then, finally, admitting that he paid them, and for threatening that the economy would tank and everybody would become poor if he is impeached.
This leads to the question, could it be a mere coincidence that in the midst of Cavuto’s subversion, Vice President Pence issues his pronouncement that the news media doesn’t really matter? That all we really need is word of mouth?
This possibility is profoundly chilling, for every dictator known to mankind has first undermined the free press before undermining anything else. But even more chilling is the hard cold fact that we the people are undermining our great country by dividing ourselves. And sadly, instead of holding fast to its ethical principals, the press, which is supposed to be a safety valve for our democracy, has followed us into our sectarianism.
But in this precarious, destructive environment does it really matter who started the decent into the vacuum? Isn’t it more important that we hit the brakes before we are not only divided but before we are conquered as well?