By Patrick F. Cannon
I think we can define “fake news” as news we don’t want to hear. President Trump hears a lot of it, which makes me wonder why he just doesn’t turn off his television sets and cancel his subscriptions to the New York Times, Washington Post and National Enquirer.
I should have thought – like most of his dwindling list of supporters – he would limit himself to Fox News and the more reliable right wing commentators like Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh, Glen Beck and the reliably annoying Ann Coulter (although some of them have begun to wonder what they have wrought). But he seems to revel in wallowing in every news report about himself as a means of seizing many more opportunities to yell “fake news!”
In a way, I suppose you have to give him credit for watching and listening to news outlets that cover him closely (I doubt if he himself actually reads anything). Most of his supporters don’t want to read or hear anything that might cast doubt on their beliefs and opinions. One hears endless complaints about the New York Times and Washington Post being biased in their coverage of the President; this from people who probably have never read either of them.
If you get your news exclusively from either Fox or MSNBC, supplemented on the radio by the loudhailers of the right and left, your view of the world will be narrow and incomplete. Unfortunately, the numbers of people who regularly read a daily newspaper continues to decline. A common complaint posits that newspapers can’t be trusted because all journalists have a liberal bias. Certainly, more journalists tend to be politically liberal than conservative.
I have been reading newspapers for more than 60 years. The only one I now read every day is the Chicago Tribune, but over the years I have also regularly read the New York Times and Wall Street Journal. All of these venerable institutions have made mistakes in their coverage, some grievous. But each generally strives to get the facts straight and publish them in a coherent manner in their hard news columns. The editorial and opinion pages are just that and readers understand that the publisher may use them to express one view or another. As it happens, both the Tribune and Journal have conservative bents, while the Times is reliably liberal. All of them, however, give opinion space to alternative views.
Publishing a daily newspaper is an expensive business. Dwindling advertising and circulation revenue have put many out of business and caused almost all to tighten their belts. As they go away, there is no one left to do the digging that other media depend upon for their own coverage. Do you really think the network news programs do all of their own reporting? In any event, how much news can you possibly cover in 20 minutes once a day? And local television news is mostly a joke. By the time they cover the weather and promote their network’s entertainment shows, they have very little time left to cover real news, even if they actually know what it is.
So, people need to ask themselves this question when they complain about the media – just exactly who is the biased one here?
Copyright 2017, Patrick F. Cannon