This is a blog for journalists, authors, and those who enjoy reading and learning. Here you will find a variety of posts about all forms of writing--from fiction and non-fiction to the news media and journalism. It is produced by a former foreign correspondent and journalism school dean.
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Something has happened to journalism in America. And it's
Skillful, tough reporting has been replaced by reporters,
editors and producers who are allowing their political biases and agendas to
get in the way of what journalists once valued as a search for the truth.
The So-Called Big Five
Truth is no longer the goal. Instead the objective for
reporters today is to provide uncritical enthusiastic support for the person,
position, idea or social stance that best conforms to their worldview.
How things have changed from the time I entered the journalism
profession in 1969 right out of college.
I made the leap from being the editor of my college
newspaper (The University Daily Kansan at the University of Kansas) to covering
the city of Chicago for the Chicago Tribune.
It was a not an easy leap! First, I was exposed to some of
the best reporting in the United States. There were five competing newspaper in
Chicago then and the competition was fierce. I learned very quickly just how
little I knew about being a good reporter.
Second, what I wrote was passed through some of the toughest
editors I have ever known. And it was that experience that allowed me to hone
both by reporting and writing skills to the point that I was given the ultimate
job as foreign correspondent.
But before I made that move, I spent five years covering Chicago,
often working horrible hours and covering just about every kind of story. This
was called "seasoning" and I am still grateful for that experience.
I learned quickly to keep any bias I might have out of what
I reported and wrote. Any hint of opinion in one of my stories and I was called
to the City Editor's desk where I was (how shall I say it?) Critiqued? Disparaged?
How about verbally bludgeoned?
"Keep your opinions to yourself!" the late Don
Agrella, my feisty old Day City Editor would say. "People don't give a
shit what YOU think!"
Don must be screaming his head off when he looks down from
heaven at the Tribune and other newspapers today.
Too many stories today are filled with opinion--or even
worse--are made incomplete by the deliberate omission of facts or information
that would create a fair and balanced report.
Even worse are the media's purposeful failure to cover
stories that might be damaging to a position or a person that the reporter,
editor or producer doesn't want to harm.
Look at the way the media have covered President Obama--or
should I say, have refused to cover him when stories were deemed detrimental to
If you watched the debates you saw this for yourself in the
second debate when Candy Crowley, CNN's chief political correspondent who was moderating the
event, jumped in and corrected Mitt Romney when he challenged Obama on his
failure to call the attack on the Benghazi consulate an act of terror--even
though Obama was obviously lying.
Look at this
exchange from the second debate:
ROMNEY: I -- I think it's interesting the
president just said something which -- which is that on the day after the
attack he went into the Rose Garden and said that this was an act of terror.
OBAMA: That's what I said.
ROMNEY: You said in the Rose Garden the day
after the attack, it was an act of terror. It was not a spontaneous
demonstration, is that what you're saying?
OBAMA: Please proceed governor.
ROMNEY: I want to make sure we get that for
the record because it took the president 14 days before he called the attack in
Benghazi an act of terror.
OBAMA: Get the transcript.
CROWLEY: It -- it -- it -- he did in fact,
sir. So let me -- let me--call it an act of terror...
OBAMA: Can you say that a little louder,
CROWLEY: He -- he did call it an act of
terror. It did as well take -- it did as well take two weeks or so for the
whole idea there being a riot out there about this tape to come out. You are
correct about that.
ROMNEY: This -- the administration -- the
administration indicated this was a reaction to a video and was a spontaneous
But of course, the damage was already done. Crowley's action
made it seem as if Romney didn't have his facts together, when in fact, he did.
According to the transcript of Obama's Rose Garden remarks Obama
spoke only generically about how “no acts of terror will ever shake the resolve
of this nation.” Not once did he directly refer to the violence in Benghazi as
a "terrorist attack."
Next, let's look at Hurricane Sandy. Obama makes a one day
trip to a few places, including New Jersey and FEMA and other federal agencies
begin patting themselves on their backs praising the great job they are doing
to help victims of the storm.
In fact, millions of people are still without power, food,
medical help and other forms of assistance and are wondering where FEMA is.
Now rewind back to Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans and
recall, if you will, the way President Bush was excoriated for not doing more
to help those victims.
Yet here we are with a storm that has left millions more
Americans homeless and without shelter than Katrina and the media has said nary a
discouraging word about our recently re-elected Golfer-in-Chief and how his
administration has obviously dropped the ball.
If this were a Republican president I can guarantee that the
media would be hammering him (or her) relentlessly on their callous disregard
for the suffering millions along the East Coast. But not Obama. He gets a pass.
Then there is the most relevant issue of all--the horrible
U.S. economy. The media seldom said anything about it during the campaign nor
did it hold Obama's feet to the fire they way it did with President Bush.
According to a study by the Media Research Center's Business
and Media Institute in 2004 the economy under George W. Bush was far better
than it is today — higher growth, lower unemployment, smaller deficits and
cheaper gasoline — yet network coverage that year was twice as hostile to Bush than it was towards Obama this year.
The Media Have Put a Halo Around Obama
How many stories have you seen about $4 and $5 per gallon
gasoline in the past six months? Now think back to 2004 and 2005--the last time
gas prices were this high. Stories were rampant about the high price of
gasoline and guess what? The media blamed President Bush!
Today, we have 7.9 percent unemployment, 23 million
Americans without jobs and a president who has increased our national debt to
$16 trillion and is likely to push it to $20 trillion before he is finished.
Of course when you have a president like the one half of
this country just re-elected and who the media apparently think is able to walk
on water and turn it into wine, news organizations are strangely silent.
They refuse to report critically about the economy, about a
president who spent more time the past six months on the campaign trail and on
golf courses than he did in the oval office, about the deaths of four Americans
in Libya and the dismal failure of FEMA and other federal organizations to help
Hurricane Sandy victims.
No, this is definitely not the kind of hard-hitting, watch
dog journalism that I cut my teeth on in Chicago.
This is nothing more than classic public relations with a
media working on behalf of a president that now has four more years to destroy
traditional American values, undermine capitalism, weaken our military and eviscerate
the nation's position as the world's only democratic superpower.
Where are the Don Agrella's of the world when we need them
more than ever?
election of 2012 was less of a contest between Republicans and Democrats than it
was a battle between those who want the government to give them
"stuff" and those who feel, as JFK once said in 1960: "ask not
what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country."
Democrats who elected President Kennedy in 1960 were not the
same as those who elected Obama in 2008 and reelected him Tuesday. Those
Democrats still believed in the bedrock values of hard work, self-reliance and the
traditional family that made America the economic and political beacon of the
Today, with Obama's reelection, I fear the nation is moving
further down the slippery slope to bigger government, greater dependency and
quite possibly European style of socialism.
For example, today, more people than ever before depend on
the federal government for housing, food, income, student aid, or other
assistance once considered to be the responsibility of individuals, families,
neighborhoods, churches, and other civil society institutions.
Let's look at some facts.
·For the first time in our history 50 percent of
Americans pay no income taxes--meaning that those who are productive
contributors to the economy are supporting those who are not.
·The number of Americans on welfare has increased
from 97 million to 107 million since President Obama took office, according to research by the Senate Budget Committee.
·Some 47 million Americans already are on food stamps.
·Almost 71 percent of all federal spending goes
to dependency creating programs.
·The American public's dependence on the federal
government shot up 23% in just two years under President Obama, with 67 million
now relying on some federal program, according to a newly released study by the
·Last year, the Wall Street Journal reported that 49% of the population lives in a
household where at least one person gets some type of government benefit.
What Obama has done and what he will continue to do is expand
the culture of dependency that the Democrat Party thrives on. Poverty is a trap.
It causes long-term welfare recipients to lose job skills and work habits and
ultimately they wind up failing to participate in a marketplace that can lead
to new and better jobs.
What we saw in this presidential election was a mandate for
Obama to continue the tax and spend policies that place a greater economic burden
on productive members of society so Democrats can continue to win votes from
those who feel they are entitled to more and more government handouts.
Our national debt is already at $16 trillion but watch out.
You ain't seen nothin' yet. Under another four years of Obama it will likely
grow to more than $20 trillion and as it does, the dollar will become a joke in
global currency markets. To some extent it already is.
Under Obamacare, Medicaid is set to explode as well. Within
just one generation, total federal spending could reach nearly 36% of GDP, and
the Congressional Budget Office says debt held by the public could reach nearly
200% of GDP.
These are facts that those who voted for Obama ignored or
were too uninformed to understand.
I grew discouraged listening to people in exit polls explain
why they voted for Obama.
"I think he is good looking," said one
20-something woman..."and he cares about my right to have birth control and
for the government to provide it."
Wait a minute. Since when is it a "right" for
birth control and for the government to provide it? If it's in the Constitution
or the Bill of Rights, I must have missed it.
At one polling place Obama voters were asked what party
currently controls Congress. The answer from several dozen people asked: "Republicans."
Others were asked to identify Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid.
One woman said this: "Obama did lots of great things
besides killing Osama bin Laden! I just don't want to talk about any of those
things right now, for no particular reason."
Thank God! It's depressing enough to learn that these are
the people who helped re-elect one of the weakest presidents in our history without
having to listen to them attempt to speak coherently about why they did it.
But hey, these are the "winners" in this
election...and the rest of us get to continue to pay the bills.