America as an idea cannot be understood apart from the guarantees the Framers adopted in Philadelphia, as they embodied the very foundation of our republic and its attendant freedoms and are inextricably linked to the First Amendment of the Constitution:
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”
But that was then and this is now and things have changed – and if Mr. Jefferson or Mr. Justice Brandeis were alive today, they might wish to revise their idea of a free and “almost holy” press.
But if the press has been the guarantors of our freedom, is it now the enemy of that freedom?
If media is driven by negative news, as most of us believe, is that not an inescapable danger to our freedom and sense of reality?
Meaning, if story after story is overwhelmingly negative, does that not distort our reality?
Do we not come away from such reporting, whatever its means of delivery – television, radio, press, internet, or Twitter – as captive of 24/7 negative news? Does that not, in turn, shape our understanding of our world; that the prism through which we see our world is thereby darkened; that our communities, city, state, and world have either gone to hell, or are on the edge of slipping into the abyss? That our world has been unfastened from its tether?
And, would any rational person conclude otherwise?
But let’s move from general media to a specific media – MSNBC.
For me, the issue of MSNBC began in June 2015, when donald trump (lower case intended) spoke at a reception in the large home of a New Hampshire supporter.
To my astonishment, MSNBC covered his speech live. Not some of it – all of it.
As a press aide to Bobby Kennedy in the presidential campaign of ’68 and subsequently press secretary to two U.S. Senators, one of whom was also a candidate for president, I had never witnessed this – complete coverage of a candidate’s speech during a primary campaign (even speeches of President Obama seldom receive such coverage).
But as incredulous as I found MSNBC’s coverage, that was only the beginning. The cable network essentially adopted trump as its candidate.
Meaning, the ostensible “liberal” cable network, the non-Fox, right-wing conservative network of Hannity and O’Reilly, became trump’s greatest champion.
The GOP nominee was everywhere on MSNBC. There were his speeches, and his interviews with the fawning Chris Matthews, the fawning Rachel Maddow, the fawning Joe Scarborough, and the almost, but not quite, fawning Mika Brzezinski
It was disgraceful. And who would have thought that MSNBC, the “liberal’s own cable network,” would be largely responsible for the rise of trump?
And while MSNBC was falling all over itself to pump trump, some really good candidates on the Republican side, notably Ohio’s John Kasich, a really good, decent, and honorable public servant, were ignored – and, in consequence, a once great political party, the Republican Party, the Party of Lincoln was reduced to an angry, reactionary, all-white party of lifetime members of the AARP.
Should we expect mea culpas from the stars of MSNBC?
Not likely. They are all paid millions to do what they do – Rachel Maddow, $7 million; Chris Matthews, $5 million; Joe Scarborough, $4.68 million, and Mika Brzezinski, $2 million (it is reported) – which means, they ain’t exactly one of us.
So, why did they sell their souls to donald trump?
It’s called ratings and advertising dollars; that is the name of their game – and that takes precedence over ideology – left, right, or center.
Or, as Les Moonves, president of CBS, famously said about donald trump’s candidacy, “It may not be good for America, but it’s damn good for CBS.”
By its dishonorable conduct, MSNBC seconds that.
Photo Source: POLITICO