Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Agendas

Everybody has an agenda. It's like that joke that says, "An opinion is like a (insert certain bodypart here), everyone has one." We're human - it's just part of the territory, a by-product of who we are. Businesses have agendas. Governments have agendas. Organizations - whether they be charitable, non-profits, etc. - have them too. The media - who has been front and center in what seems to be an ongoing culture war - is not exempt. There are many folks, on the left and right, who decry certain news organizations who lean one way or the other. For instance, Fox News and MSNBC are easy targets for those of opposing ideologies. As it stands, Fox News consistently dominates cable news ratings on a nightly basis because this country is predominately center-right, although they do enjoy viewership from a growing number of Independents and even some who identify as liberal.

Having an agenda isn't an inherently bad thing. It's not a bad thing for a business to have the agenda of making a profit. What makes that agenda bad or good is how they go about accomplishing that agenda. What is the nature of their business practices? How do they treat the people that they employ and their customers? Charities should have the agenda of raising money for the cause they endorse as well as growing awareness among the populace as to the issues confronting the cause for which they fight. The press' agenda SHOULD be to inform the public about the issues confronting them, reporting on issues that are meaningful to all of us. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out what issues are meaningful to American citizens.

Progressives decry Fox News because they resent the fact they have opinion journalists that lean to the right. Conservatism represents an affront to their very existence. Progressives want everyone to follow them down the memory hole. The problem is, conservatives like myself are stubborn enough to not make that mistake as well as remind them with history how progressivism does nothing but leave a path of scorched earth in its wake. Conservative principles, what this country was founded upon, have shown throughout history what it's meant to the propagation of freedom and hope throughout the world. Does that mean that the US is without its closet skeletons? We all know the answer to that question.

Let's go back to the press for a second. The press is deemed "the third rail of our democracy". Their role is vital to providing a check and balance on government by being an instrument of impartiality and reporting on newsworthy items that affect all of us, directly or indirectly. If there is rampant collusion between the press and government, then you have something resembling state-run media instead of a free press operating in a democratic society. One could make the argument that the press has always had a liberal-leaning undertone. Back during the days of Cronkite and Murrow, there was more of a concerted effort to report the news without delivering ideological slant. But modern politics has outed the MSM to its liberal leanings and the populace has seen it for what it is. As evidence, I submit the rise of Fox News, particularly on-air personalities like Bill O'Reilly, Sean Hannity and Glenn Beck. There is no surprise that as ratings for network television have plummeted, cable news - namely Fox News - has been the biggest beneficiary, receiving the lion's share of those choosing to get their news elsewhere. In it's simplest form what we see at play is an inverse relationship between network news and cable news. As one has fallen (network news), the other has risen (cable news i.e. FNC).

There are types of stories that don't get the kind of play among the MSM that makes viewers question their intentions, their agenda. Case in point is this story from Nigeria where at this very moment Christians are being massacred en-masse at the hands of Muslims (WARNING: link shows graphic image) as they protest the result of their recent presidential elections. What is going there is utterly horrific. Go look at Google for yourself to see the coverage this story has enjoyed from the major news networks. What you will also notice is that this story arc (Muslims and their actions/intentions towards other non-Muslims) does not get much attention from the MSM. You might ask why that is. You might also ask why the White House has been silent on this issue. Sure, the White House is very busy and has a lot on its plate with two wars plus an ongoing kinetic military operation, high unemployment, a disastrous housing market, an ever-weakening dollar, a mostly stale economy, unrest in the Middle East spreading at a dizzying pace and countries like China and Russia growing more powerful by the day. But when you combine what the press is neglecting to do by not giving voice to stories like the one mentioned above with the silence from the White House on this issue and others like it, people are going to start drawing conclusions.

What certainly doesn't help the growing perception problem the White House and the MSM currently suffer from is when they both take part in going to war with Fox News. It's one thing for FNC's competitors to directly go after them by making accusations or exaggerations to slander and defame. It's entirely another issue for the Administration of a sitting President to engage in a full-on attack of a network, trying to isolate and marginalize it because it doesn't play the same game the MSM has played with the White House - that is, sacrificing their fundamental agenda of accountability at the altar of access.

The best thing news networks like ABC, NBC, CBS and CNN can do as they continue to shrink in the shadow of Fox News is to go back to reporting the news with journalistic integrity. Short of showing more deference to the center-right, it's the best thing they can do to slow the erosion of viewers to Fox News. The best thing the White House could do is not demonize center-right leaning networks/news outlets like Fox News because of their wide viewership. By doing so, they end up insulting and alienating the voter blocs they need for support - most importantly Independents - who somehow always seem to decide the outcomes of major elections. Don't marginalize the people that have the power to vote you in or out of office. In more simpler terms, don't bite the hand that places the ballot in the box. It's the surest way to have your agenda traded in for one that more closely matches their own.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

15 Minutes of Fame

Most people seek out fame and the spotlight for their "15 minutes of fame". Reality TV is filled with such people. The embodiment of this is the cast of Jersey Shore - the oily, tanned New Jerseyites whom viewers can't seem to get enough of. Famous and headline grabbing for all of the wrong reasons, they inspire those of us desperate for attention to follow in their footsteps to gain their share of fame. They are the proverbial flash in the pan...the antithesis to substance.

Speaking of substance, I just finished listening to Sarah Palin's speech today in Wisconsin. It was electric. I got goosebumps listening to her address the Tea Party patriots in Madison. She projected strength, intelligence, confidence and a command of the issues that confront our country. She took the establishment GOP to task for their budget compromise, the MSM for their ineptitude and the President for his dangerous and reckless policies.

She was pitch-perfect. She sets the tone that the other GOP front-runners struggle to consistently create. But this is what she does. Time and time again when the MSM talking heads collude to attempt to bully, intimidate and corner her, she takes the air out of their lungs by delivering leadership from a place of substance that they can't do anything with. She stands up and speaks clarity in a way that none of the other front-runners can. Dana Perino, I have a lot of respect for you, but you're wrong. She wears authenticity like a well-fitted jacket. She's taken the slings and arrows that others have done little to defend her from. It's no wonder that so many women believe chivalry is dead. Watching her male counterparts stand idly by while she gets teed up by the media is stomach-churning. Men should be inspired by strength, not intimidated by it. But when you're a pretender, that's what you do.

I don't know if this speech is her announcement to run for the White House in 2012. If it was, it was one heck of a way to do it. Talk about a perfect convergence of style and substance. If there was ever a textbook example of this, it's Gov. Palin - glamorous AND doggedly determined to stand and fight as the day is long. There has been no one in American politics like this Sarah Palin. She and those familiar to sports have knowledge of the term "eyeball test". There are athletes that make it difficult at times to articulate their greatness - you just know it when you see it. In other words, they pass the eyeball test. Sarah Palin does that and more. When you watch her or listen to her, she reminds you in case you forgot that she's something special. She doesn't just pass the eyeball test, she crushes it.

Her detractors only wish she had just fifteen minutes of fame. Unfortunately for them, this is no Jersey Girl. The "Thrilla from Wasilla" is no sideshow. She's got staying power...and her eye on the prize in 2012.