I was going to write Bill O’Reilly this evening and ask him why with the civil unrest in Yemen, Americans dying in a terrorist hotel attack in Libya, maybe a brief word on the genocide in Africa, and an all-female Ghostbusters cast being announced today he decided to spend the majority of his show speculating on which Republicans may choose to enter the Presidential race in 2016- without mentioning a single word about a possible Independent or Democratic candidate, besides Hillary Clinton, who was an assumed muppet. With almost 2 years before the election, eons in the political landscape, why was today’s real news ignored and how am I now a more informed viewer after watching?
My “Mad As Hell” letter to him was going swimmingly, I was patting myself on the back after several witty one-liners and pointed, legitimate questions concerning his journalistic integrity. In order to give my letter a shred of credibility and not be completely hypocritical, I jumped over to CNN to fact check a few of my statements. Then I went to ABC. Then I just said “fuck it” and gave up on the letter entirely. Bill O’Reilly wasn’t the problem, it’s our news. Executive producers, network presidents, and agenda driven ownership groups have stripped the slightest bit of journalism from our consumption.
It’s been a while since I visited the homepage of a news agency- I usually stumble onto articles through social media posts, links, and searches taking me directly to the article I want. No browsing, in and out, and obviously for good reason. Upon visiting CNN, I was immediately greeted by a giant masthead advertisement that buried the world’s top stories below the fold.
Why are we here, guys? So you can sell advertising or so you can provide a service? Granted, that service takes considerable capital to deliver. However, I’m under the belief that if you are the best in your field, a renown source that the world comes to for information, reputable advertisers will seek you out simply to be associated with your product. Your name carries so much credibility that any company would be honored to have the privilege to sponsor your work, instead of the other way around.
There in lies the problem, our primary news conglomerates no longer carry the credibility of their title. CNN’s homepage read like a tabloid magazine in the checkout lane of a supermarket. I knew we, as a culture, were in bad shape before I logged on, but this… This is not what I was expecting.
According to Bill’s continued outrage over internet journalism and his professional crusade to discredit anything web-based, where else was I supposed to turn? Close my laptop and continue to tune into Fox News’s opinion based shows because they have large budgets backing them? Capital and reach inherently giving them the seal of journalistic approval he’s dreaming of? A free press acts as a watchdog and helps keep our society balanced, where then do we go once this institution also becomes corrupt?
We, as humanity, are in a very unique age- one like no other in human history. We can’t look to the past and learn from mistakes in order to avoid them in the future when it comes to information decimation and communication. We’re blazing a completely unmarked trail with no particular destination ahead of us.
This realization and concept is truly difficult to grasp when you sit down and think about it. It’s overwhelming to the point of disinterest, it’d be like surmising the meaning of life within a tweet, which is exactly what we’ve done. Our society has reverted back to basic pleasures- beer, American Idol, iPods, and football because we have no idea what’s really going on. We distract ourselves from the realities of the world because no one is doing a good job of painting, articulating, an accurate picture that can be commonly understood.
Basic principles and the foundation of understanding have been lost by those who inform us- truth and virtue have been sacrificed for ratings and dollars. The priority isn’t tell you what’s happening- it’s to tell you a story that propagates an agenda, even if if that agenda is nothing more sinister than to simply make money and keep ones job.
The chicken or the egg though? Are we, as a people, at fault? Are we getting the news that we deserve- the “reporters” simply turning out the proven content that they know we’ll tune in to? We allow them this gross perversion of truth because either we don’t know any better or don’t care? I’m not being tested on this content, the butterfly effect of what’s happening overseas will likely never impact me in this lifetime?
We’ve been rewarded with ignorance for several decades, generations. For the most part, life is predicable here in the Stars and Stripes. Very little has rocked the boat and we’ve been able to plow through many icebergs with limited compromise to our values and way of life. Spotters on the bow will cry panic and we get slapped in the face with reality occasionally, but the sting of the slap quickly fades with the cool breeze of smooth sailing. Until the wind dies, until we’re knocked to our knees, until this ship starts taking water will we proactively do anything to save it.
As I said above, we’re blazing the trail and I don’t know what’s ahead of us. More open waters? Doubtful. History might not be able to teach us about our current place in the world, but history has taught us that all good things come to an end unless we preserve them. Being aware- aware that this thing that we all believe in can stop, aware that we have the ability fix it when it breaks, aware that the course we charted may not have been the most direct, and aware that we’re not the only boat in the water is the first place to start. Once we know those things, we can then achieve direction for constructive maintenance.
Bill O’Reilly isn’t an evil man, he’s a character. He’s a cartoon for the left and expressionism for the right. To me, he’s lost. He forgot why current events were important to him (and us) and in the process made a very successful career at it. He was rewarded by telling a story rather than providing a service. I think he would take exception to that statement. I think he would brashly defend his position by pointing to other outlets' shortcomings and validate himself by viewership. To me it’s perpetuation of a flawed cycle. Ego aside, if Bill honestly believes that he’s delivering the news to the best of his ability, I hope he continues to have a successful career. All I want is honesty.