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Food for Thought by Carol Willis

April 17, 2022 6:26 PM | Anonymous

By Carol Willis

And speaking of journalism and its importance, consider this viewpoint that was presented by the Los Angeles Times in 2021 which theorizes that because of all the monumental events that occurred in 2020 and 2021, much of the press was depleted from having to constantly disprove disinformation rather than to follow the rules of good journalism that included to stick to the facts, remain impartial, and present differing viewpoints. Click here to read the article.

"The problem is that “both-sides journalism,” as it's come to be called, has outlived the "fairness doctrine" that created it, which was abolished in 1987 under then-President Reagan. The careful, equitable reporting of "PBS NewsHour" and NPR remains a valuable public service, but in this age of extremes, the point-counterpoint structure is sorely out of step with the bombast of politicians like U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) and the fact-bending screeds of hangers-on like Rudy Giuliani.

"Getting to the bottom of anything requires it having an actual bottom, and that's an issue in a parallel news universe where lifesaver Dr. Anthony Fauci is a demon, climate change is a hoax and ingesting horse dewormer is safer than a Pfizer shot in the arm. How does one logically debate the politicization of COVID-19 in a traditional talk-show forum without giving a platform to the very folks who’ve spun these deadly lies?

"It's not a problem for those leading the charge. Take Fox News host Tucker Carlson. He's behind a three-part series that promotes unfounded and disproved conspiracy theories about the Jan. 6 siege. Make-believe narratives. Presented as fact. On an ostensibly "mainstream" network, watched by millions.

"In his adoring interview with "nice kid" Kyle Rittenhouse — the teen who brought an AR-15 rifle to a Black Lives Matter protest and who was charged with killing two unarmed men and maiming another — Carlson assured viewers that Rittenhouse was a patriot, not a racist. He never mentioned a widely circulated photo of the "sweet kid" in a bar flashing white-power signs with Proud Boy members, wearing a "free as f—" T-shirt. And in that siloed universe, no one was there to challenge him. The teen's acquittal emboldened would-be vigilantes and mass shooters. Social media helped reach them. Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R.-N.C.) took to Instagram Live to rally his followers: “Be armed, be dangerous, and be moral.”

"The asymmetrical nature of the media is both a byproduct of and a fuel for the asymmetrical nature of modern partisanship: While Todd is interviewing Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, about practical ways of surviving the pandemic, Fox Nation host Lara Logan is comparing Biden's chief medical adviser to Nazi war criminal Dr. Josef Mengele.

"In these circumstances, even newsrooms not in thrall to the hard-right cabal would be hard-pressed to strike the right tone, to see the big picture, to earn the consumer's trust. But as social media's dominance deepens and right-wing platforms grow, mainstream media are in crisis: CNN's Chris Cuomo was fired after advising brother Andrew Cuomo on his sexual-assault-scandal damage control — exactly the kind of ethical breach that diminishes trust in journalism — and local newspapers are in a fight for survival against venture capitalists.

"After an overwhelming year, in a challenging-in-the-best-of-times business, it might seem harsh to blame the old-school press for not assembling the pieces of the puzzle into a warning siren for our system of government. But it isn't enough to hope that 2022 will magically offer solutions to either our media crisis or our democratic one. It will require swift and forceful change. Otherwise, the joke's on us."

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times here.

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