Timothy Benton | Oct 18, 2018 | 1
How the News Has Gone From A Force To A Farce
How the News Has Gone From A Fact To A Farce
News Back Then
When I was younger the news was something you trusted, you knew it was the truth, almost held in reverence. You knew what was being presented didn’t have a need to be questioned, the reporters had integrity. I remember gathering around the TV in the late 60’s and early 70’s, my father would have the news on with Walter Cronkite, he would drone on about what was going on, we would listen, when the news was done, or if a commercial comes up, we would ask questions, he, in turn, would answer. That was part of our evening routine.
Sadly it seems today when I watch the news, as I try to carry on the tradition with my child as my father did with us (he is far less interested in the news then I was, or maybe I wasn’t, just remember differently), we no longer discuss just the news, rather what is real, what is reported as fact really is speculation, news today you can’t just take it in, you must doubt much of what is being said. Sadly, the news has turned from fact to farce.
And before anyone gets started, I am not saying that one side or the other is real or fake, we have far too many cases on all sides presenting rumors as fact, hearsay as a substantiated story. They have become more concerned with the appearance of presenting factual news than in doing the research or having the openness of showing what is speculation or hearsay. With the advent of the Trump candidacy and later the Trump Administration it seems the desire for factual reporting has gone out the window, ratings are what are driving the major news outlets, to stick to facts, that is almost an afterthought nowadays. What is worse, you go on the internet, turn on Facebook, Yahoo, Google News is it even more out of control, this is because they do news feeds and have no control over the delivery of news themselves, they are more interested in clicks than in the accuracy.
Yesterday after someone passed me an article, said I should write on it. The went on to say it reported that top GOP members had received bribes to obstruct Trump from the Clinton campaign, I have to say I was instantly doubtful, if such a thing was true, it would be breaking news, well at least on FOX, but there was nothing. So I opened the article “Wikileaks Massive Exposure: Here Are 6 Republicans Who Took Bribes from Clinton To ‘Destroy Trump’”, I looked at the bottom of the page for references, all it had was the story was from USNewsforum. I followed that link, sure enough, no actual reference from Wikileaks, next I did what I always do, I started to pull up Google. Started checking all the feeds, found this story broke back in January of this year, turns out this was a recycled story.
When I pulled up each of the articles, there was the same problem even back then, each article referred to another who said they had broken the news, when you pulled up that one, still no references, after going multiple stories deep, I decided to pull up Wikileaks and look at their archives (https://wikileaks.org/). I would have done this sooner or later anyway, I can’t report something as having collaborating evidence when there is none, yet no place in WikiLeaks could such a release be found. What was most interesting was the vast number the feeds you saw on Google with links to Facebook, in other words, these stories were posted all over, millions saw the news that had little bases in facts, but was presented as such.
What is fake, what is real, inquiring minds want to know
I wrote back to the person and said I could not touch the story, could not confirm it. He naturally told me there were hundreds of links, I agreed, but added, the problem was none of them could show one credible link, sorry, this is not news, this is what all have been complaining about, its fake news dressed up as if it real.
It got me thinking, if this is what is being passed as real news, how can you tell what is real? Is it real because FOX, ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, Time, Newsweek, or maybe New York Times ran the story? I have found this is not the case, what you have many times reported as news, turns out that it is not news, it is opinions presented as news.
Sadly it seems you try to look for someone you trust, be it Wolf Blitzer, Geraldo Rivera, Matt Lauer or Morley Safer, you find in most cases they have no problem with throwing personal opinions or politics into their reporting, this is not news so much as opinions about the news. Personalities such as Racheal Maddow, Sean Hannity, Tucker Carlson or Chris Matthews, they make no claim of being reporters, they openly tell you that they are airing an opinion piece, although sometime they will slant opinion as a fact.
The great thing I like about the opinion reporters or opinion writers, you know what you are getting, but when you turn on the news you see this line becoming more and more blurred. You watch the White House press briefings, these reporters are supposed to be presenting news from the White House, instead, when you watch them, they are not looking for news, you have them confronting, demanding Trump or someone on the podium answer personal slights against their news organization. You have people like Jim Acosta scolding the president, something that would never have been done in the past, then when in reaction to this they cut off some of his access, he goes out and cries and plays the victim. Later he tweets this:
The president said we just had a press conference. We did not. That's fake news.
— Jim Acosta (@Acosta) August 14, 2017
In other words, he was slighted because his demands were not met after being disrespectful, so instead of doing his job as a reporter, he showed his lack of professionalism and proceeded to make this personal.
How to correct this?
I think we need to get back to reporting where personal opinions are left out, that is unless they are defined as such. I remember Walter Cronkite, David Brinkley, John Chancellor, and John Cameron Swayze, they sat in our living rooms each night, gave the news, but you had no clue of their political views, they never gave them, only the news.
This changed with the next generation of reporters, Dan Rather, Tom Brokaw and Peter Jennings, they came up with the reporting where they both showed the news and gave their own opinions, soon this went into full-scale attacks (this was more with Rather and Brokaw then with Jennings). We saw this when Rather was removed for running fake news about George W Bush. We need to get back to the time of the 60’s, there must be a separation of opinion and reporting news.
The problem today is when the news is presented we simply don’t trust it, the bias is so overwhelming that it is breathtaking. You don’t know if you are getting actual news or opinions, so you are stuck having to research everything you are shown. Add to this the problem of fake or satirical news sites, these present the news as if they are real, many times you see these stories posted on Facebook, sometimes even the main evening news from these sites, you sit in amazement wondering if they research anything. Can we fix these sites? No, there is a thing called free speech, but we can make them known.
We can also demand that if we are going to watch, you better be factual, otherwise watch someone that is, advertising is based on viewership, if you have few, you get less money, if we start to turn the channel, these sites will either change or go off the air. I think what is needed is to label all news at the top, we do that on this site, if it is an opinion, we mark it as such, that way you know you are getting an opinionated piece of news, it is what we do. We try to label correctly everything, international or domestic news, if it is an opinion piece, last we identify if the news is from a left-leaning reporter or a right-leaning like myself. I can’t change how others do things, but we will try to start the change here, who knows, maybe it will start a trend.
Things don’t change overnight, the news is dying as we know it, either the main news channels can change back so they can be trusted, or if they continue to head down a path where political ideology supersedes the need to report unbiased news, then they will go the way of all other things that wither and die when they are no longer relevant.