Wednesday, August 22, 2012

An Open Challenge to Journalists


In the wake of Soledad O’Brien's delicious CNN on-air smackdown of Republican surrogate John Sununu last week there unfortunately appears to be more lies and deception being spread than ever.

I fully understand the nature of the 24/7 news cycle. Especially with cable, it's an awful lot of airtime to fill. But that's precisely the problem. That insatiable need for constant content, no matter how truthful, has allowed for endless and unprecedented duplicity in this election in particular by a parade of surrogates, SuperPacs and the candidates themselves.

The next two months promises an unrelenting and exhaustive inundation of deceptive attack ads and rhetoric on both sides. Rather than fire up the electorate this disingenuous campaigning is more likely to turn off voters. It's time for journalists to do their job and challenge these lies, just as O’Brien so masterfully did last week. The news media's role is to deliver information. Factual information. It has an obligation to seek the truth, yet it's become an embarrassing, pathetic open platform for fork-tongued politicians and their spokespeople. I consider myself an intelligent, well-read political junkie who understands the intricate details and nuances of most issues, yet I often find myself scratching my head wondering what the real truth is. Can you imagine how difficult it is in this toxic climate for the average, typically apolitical American to decipher fact from fiction?

So here’s my suggestion to the media (besides watching Aaron Sorkin's "The Newsroom" and taking a cue from fictional anchorman Will McAvoy; imagine if real journalists had his balls?): challenge the spin. Be armed with the facts. Shoot down the lies. Shoot them down again and again if necessary. And if the guests get belligerent because of it, throw them off the air. Let these people know that unless they speak the truth they will not be allowed to exploit the public airwaves, or usurp our cable subscription fees, to spread their lies.

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