Dear American Press,
You have always been an important part of my life. From a young age I remember sitting at the breakfast bar in our house, reading through the local newspaper. When I was younger still, I remember that they brightly colored Sunday comics were always anticipated and savored each week. Through my teens I watched the local and national news each night. Your anchors and reporters became uncles and aunts to me who would visit each night to tell about things happening around town, around the nation, and around the world. I particularly remember being impressed by the local weather man, Stu Tracy, who would throw up the suns and rain symbols that would magnetically stick to the map. I never understood how he would remember just where each symbol would go and was disappointed when he stopped creating the map real-time, instead having it setup before the forecast.
In college I made the decision to spend an hour each day in a particular chair in the student union and pour through the Wall Street Journal, cover-to-cover, as well as Barrons on the day it came out. I also remember the start of CNN and ’round-the-clock coverage during the first Gulf War. How amazing it was to be able to be there in Baghdad as the American bombs were falling. I remember the chill in the air as Saddam Hussein fired scuds at American troops and Israeli cities that could be filled with chemical agents, never knowing where one might land.
Yes, I have loved you for all of my life. But to truly love someone also means to be truthful when that person is making bad decisions that are hurting her. To act like things were just fine when someone you love it tearing herself apart is not love, but enabling. Having someone speak up may bring about anger and resentment, sometimes causing an irreconcilable split in the relationship. It would be far easier to stay silent and not bring up difficult issues, but that would not be love. God says to treat others as we would like to be treated; that should go doubly for someone we love. If I were destroying my life, I would want someone to tell me. So here goes….
Your reporting is full of incomplete and biased information – even some flat-out lies at times – and that is causing people to not trust you anymore.
OK – there it is. Right out on-the-table. I know that you think that people are generally ignorant and even dull, such that they would not know that you were trying to manipulate them through the facts you tell and the ones you leave out, the words you choose, and even the stories you choose to cover and those you don’t. But they are seeing right through you and it is causing them to turn away. They don’t want to be around you because you’re trying to get them to believe an alternative reality and then to act accordingly. You want them to think that nationalized health care is a great thing, while they see the premiums rise and their doctor networks shrink. You want them to believe that higher taxes, government programs, and strong regulations are the road to happiness for the middle and poverty class, but they have seen jobs disappear, wages stagnate or decline, and poverty increase as these things have come to pass.
Bottom line: They no longer feel like they can trust you.
Need a little Honesty? It’s such a lonely word.
And you see, trust is everything for you. People don’t buy your papers or watch your newscasts because they like your witty writing and snappy graphics. They don’t give a couple of hours of their valuable time each day to watch the evening news and read the morning paper because they want to be told what they should think, particularly when there are such clear holes in that thinking. They do so because they have a need to know the truth about things for which they can not discover the facts themselves. They cannot go to Iraq or Afghanistan and see the conditions and the interaction between the local people and American troops. They cannot spend all day in Washington D.C. and see if their representatives are passing laws with which they agree and spending the people’s money wisely. They cannot go to the police stations across the country and see if laws are being enforced fairly and effectively, if certain cities are safe or dangerous, and if government agencies are being run efficiently. The desperately need someone to do this for them so that they then have the information that they need to make the right decisions.
You are supposed to be the one who finds out the truth for them.
This is why your prevarication, equivocation, replacement of opponent viewpoints with straw man arguments, and manipulation of the facts is so damaging in your relationship with them. If your product is truth, “All the news that is fit to print,” as one of your publications says, then damaging that trust is the worst possible thing that you could do to them. They can tolerate mistakes, but they cannot tolerate lies and distortion. There are plenty of more interesting things they could watch on TV for entertainment or tabloids they could find in the checkout line if they want to read great fictional stories. They go to you for the truth, but you have let them down time and again, and they know it.
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Right now, I see that you are shaking your head. You say that you may stretch things from time-to-time, but your overall purpose is to guide people to a bigger truth and the way you see the world, so changing things around once in a while or selectively leaving some things out that would just confuse people is justifiable. And that is a big part of the problem.
You lack so much diversity of thought, since all of your employees coming from places where only one point-of-view was allowed, that you don’t even know that you are seeing the world through terribly distorting lenses.
People – evil people who want to seize control in America by centralizing power in a large government – have gone into the universities, then even the high school and grade schools, and filled them with people who all have the mindset that big government is good and socialism (and even communism) are better than free enterprise and capitalism. The education you received did not include all of the facts, plus it included a lot of unverified conjectures. If anyone questioned what was presented as facts, they were chastised and humiliated by the teacher and their peers. People who initially didn’t believe in socialism either dropped out of the major or were made to change their minds. They may have seen the inconsistencies, but they felt it was for the greater good that they just go along. And so they came out of the classrooms and went into the newsrooms unable to objectively examine the facts. They were sent with a mission to convince the readers and viewers that the orthodoxy they were taught in their schools is the right one.
They became propagandists rather than journalists, even if they did not realize it.
Even once your journalists enter their careers, they continue to shelter themselves from other opinions. Your newsrooms are echo chambers where everyone agrees with what they say, and your employees live in cities where everyone feels the same. They are so sheltered that they come to think that their opinions are those of the average American. They also think that they are far smarter than most people. That everyone else has the intellect of a child compared to them. Smart people think the way they do – anyone else is either ignorant or trying to take advantage of the foolish. Hmm…. They are so convinced that they know better that even when they are proven wrong, such as in the last election when they were sure which candidate would win and the other did, they think there must be some sort of mistake. Or some boogeyman like the Russians changed things.
And another thing….
Referring to the land occupying 90% of the United States as “fly over country” and thinking that those who live there are unimportant isn’t a good way to keep readers and viewers.
Now before you say that they watched and they read and they listened just fine before the internet came along and took their attention, let me counter. You are right that fewer people are reading your newspapers and watching your evening news casts because of the internet, but it is not because the internet is more exciting or convenient. If that were the case, people would be flocking to your online content as they stopped getting a daily paper. But they aren’t, are they? And no, it isn’t because of right-wing propaganda from talk radio and Fox News either, although both of those sources are part of your problem.
Alternative news sources like the internet, Fox news, and talk radio are providing the facts that you are leaving out.
They are also providing alternative viewpoints and explanations. They are giving different reasons why things may happen as they do. They give different predictions about the effects of policies and government actions. They also provide logical explanations for their predictions and assessments, rather than just focusing on people’s emotions or dictating how people should feel and what they should do. They don’t just provide conjecture, using a snooty voice to make their listeners think they need to think the same way or they are stupid. “Obviously, trickle down economics don’t work.” “Even a fool should know that raising tax rates brings in more money for the government.” The alternative news sources are resonating with the hearts of people because those who have worked a real job, built something, or had the real experience of trying to raise a family can tell logical explanations and ideas from, well, what they’re stepping in sometimes in fly over country.
So, it is with great sadness that I now need to tell you that I’m leaving. I no longer want you to show up on my doorstep in the morning. I won’t be there with you before dinner or at night before going to bed. I won’t waste my time listening to what you have to say, because I cannot trust what you are telling me and I have better things to do. I also will not be telling you what I have to say, by writing letters to your editors, since doing so only helps you continue on your destructive course and gives you hope that continuing along the same path will eventual lead you to a better place.
No, it is better to step away and let you hit rock bottom, for it is often only by hitting rock bottom that people decide that they need to change. I wish you best of luck.
Take care of yourself, because I won’t be there until you change your ways.
With great sadness, love,
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