Tuesday, April 21, 2015

The Media's Failure With the Biggest Story in the World

From TruthOut:

The failure of the media to resist the carbon lobby's propaganda has been expressed by Eric Pooley, one of America's leading journalists, by means of a parable:

Suppose our leading scientists discovered that a meteor, hurtling toward the earth, was set to strike later this century; the governments of the world had less than ten years to divert or destroy it. How would news organizations cover this story? Even in an era of financial distress, they would throw teams of reporters at it and give them the resources needed to follow it in extraordinary depth and detail. After all, the race to stop the meteor would be the story of the century.
Having suggested this scenario, Pooley explained that in his parable, carbon-using humanity is the meteor, which is threatening to destroy civilization. This threat is, Pooley said, "the great test, and the great story, of our time. But news organizations have not been treating it that way."

More here.

I first learned, in painful detail, about the weird news media organizational incentives leading to such slanted and factually incorrect coverage in Eric Alterman's 2003 book "What Liberal Media?" The long and short of it is that conservatives have been so persistent, so loud, so overwhelming in their "LIBERAL MEDIA!!!" accusations, that reporters, editors, and publishers have effectively been cowed into this false "balance" thing they do, you know, "Shape of the Earth; Opinions Differ."

That is, when trying to be "balanced" in their political coverage, truth and facts necessarily take a back seat. As long as the conservatives aren't screaming bias, everything should be just fine. Of course, it doesn't really work that way. Conservatives will ALWAYS whine about bias unless the corporate media report the news exactly the way conservatives want it, their "facts," their framing, their emphases, etc.

Fox News is the ONLY major corporate news source conservatives like. Because Fox tells conservatives exactly what they want to hear, not what they need to hear.

So this news media attempt to placate conservative critics, this bullshit "balance" approach, not only doesn't placate conservatives, but it also warps reality in clearly destructive ways, the political implications of global warming being only one issue of many. Of course, this particular news media failure very likely stands to be the most destructive of them all, in that global warming may very well destroy civilization as we understand the term today.