Conservatives Cry Foul Over ABC Infomercial

An editorial from Friday’s Investor’s Business Daily states that, “ABC crosses the line from journalism to advocacy in turning its coverage of health care over to the White House.”  The Drudge Report chimes in my noting that ABC has “ignited an ethical firestorm.”  Hot Air ain’t happy either. Really?  I think that these folks are missing the point.

Merriam-Webster defines journalism as “an academic study concerned with the collection and editing of news or the management of a news medium.”  ABC, NBC, CBS and Fox News, with just a few exceptions, haven’t presented the American people with objective news in over 10 years. If a real journalist showed up to any of those news outlets, they would be quickly shown the door.  News outlets in 2009 produce infotainment.  In days gone by, we used to get experts who were interviewed by news anchors and they would explain to us why a certain topic was important and put it in context.  Those days are long gone.  Now we get pundits.  Normally, will get one pundit but sometimes, if we’re lucky, there’ll be two.  The pundits will look at a particular topic and break it down into the conservative view and the liberal view, as if those were the only two ways to look at whatever the topic is.

Our major news outlets are now owned by major companies.  These corporations are all about making profit and billions of dollars are at stake. I’m not sure what the profit is in providing infotainment but it seems to be paying very well.

NBC’s Brian Williams was the first major news anchor to move into the White House.  I did not see the special.  I wasn’t all that interested.  When Charlie Gibson of ABC news begins broadcasting from the White House, I suspect that I will miss this also.  Maybe I’m different but I’m not looking for infotainment.  I’m looking for solid information.  I’m looking for facts.  I’m looking for experts to put these facts into context.  I’m not going to find this type of thoughtful analysis on any of the major networks.  If it happens, it’s by accident.  Instead, I, like most Americans, need to quench my thirst for information from somewhere else.  Mainstream media is not the oasis in the desert.  The mainstream media is the desert.

I’m not sure how to fix this problem.  I know that Jon Stewart pointed out this problem many years ago (see the video below).  The mainstream media has lost its ability to provide objective information, whether it is the war in Iraq, healthcare reform or the economy.  Maybe news organizations should not be owned by major corporations?  Maybe they lose their objectivity being housed inside a large money-making factory.  I don’t know.  All I know is our media needs to do better.

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Errington C. Thompson, MD

Dr. Thompson is a surgeon, scholar, full-time sports fan and part-time political activist. He is active in a number of community projects and initiatives. Through medicine, he strives to improve the physical health of all he treats.


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