Media has changed substantially over the last several decades. Sadly, despite the incorporation of new and advanced technologies that changed media for the better, the noble mission of media – especially its role in a democracy, appears to have gotten lost somewhere along the way.
Growing up in India, my father used to have me read the daily newspaper as he went through an elaborate ritual of drinking tea and shaving every day. I was more interested in the cartoon strip, but he made me read the editorial column aloud instead. He used to remind me often that if I wanted to master the nuances of the English language, I needed to read the editorials and learn from the masters. He was right. There were seasoned editors in those days – wizened men with years of experience and wisdom who wrote those articles. They often used words that were new to me; and my dad would explain the meanings of these words and their usage. I would often ask him why he wanted me to focus on the drab third page editorials rather than the much more exciting news articles. To that, he’d say, “Look son, News is just facts that the newspaper reports. The editorial is different. This is the only section where you get the opinion of the editor. Reading the editorials will not only improve your command of the English language, it will also widen your mental horizons.”
A lot of people have voted to elect Donald Trump as the forty-fifth President of America. They all had their reasons. Some were pro-life; to some the 2nd amendment rights meant a lot. There were those who were wary of their perception of Islam's agenda. To the police, Trump’s position appeared supportive of strict law enforcement. To the soldiers and the Veterans Trump’s stand appeared bold and willing to provide more for them. The farmer toiling the fields of the Midwest had been feeling left behind – ditto regarding those whose jobs had gone abroad in search of cheap labor. There was a lot of resentment seething in the social undercurrent. In his political narrative, Trump hit on the right notes that resonated with the people. With just his children, Rudy Giuliani, Chris Christie, Newt Gingrich and a few others standing behind him, he swept the nation.
Forty years after my days of reading newspaper editorials all this came back to me as I tried to find my bearings in the media jungle of today as I was deciding who to vote for. I ended up voting for Trump and the media singlehandedly made me do so. Yes. The media played a large part in making up my mind in favor of Mr. Trump. I am a tan skinned immigrant with a Master Degree in Engineering. Why would I join hands with coal miners and white rural farmers to vote for Trump? Here is why…
Since the time the two Presidential contenders threw their hats in the ring, I began to see that the media had chosen a favorite. Like Aspen trees they all turned color in unison. Every page of the newspaper, every news item on their websites, became not only the editorial section but began churning a one sided propaganda against Donald Trump. There was hardly any news - and if there was any, it was to the detriment of Mr. Trump! It appeared that the Media had become a paid assassin – out to assassinate Trump’s character and credentials.
The “Meet the Press” which I had never missed before turned into a smear fest. I will never know if the media sold its soul to Hillary or to one of her super-packs. All the negative news about her was being swept under the carpet and not given any light of the day. The shenanigans of the media upset me to no end. Even BBC, Guardian and Independent, the British websites, were not immune to this affliction. To me the blackout of news made me turn to the only place where there seemed to be some truth coming out – the underground media – particularly Wikileaks. Holed up in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, Julian Assange became a hero of intellectuals and news hounds.
While the media busied itself earning the nickname “presstitute”, the likes of me gleaned and “panned” information from the underground media. It definitely appeared that the mainstream media had abdicated their social responsibility. They had stopped reporting news in a fair and impartial fashion and had started not only to endorse Hillary, but to go all out to hide her shortcomings and to smear muck on her opponent, Donald Trump.
I, like many intellectuals around the country, dug in my heels. If media pushed me one way, I would go the other way - just to negate their ulterior motives and attempts to suppress truth and engage in behavior that I considered reprehensible and diametrically opposed to the high ethical standards of journalism. It turned out that the free thinkers like me had, like the other demographic groups, an axe to grind as well. As a result, the intellectuals joined the other groups who identified with Trump’s message.
The pathetic marathon coverage by Steve Colbert on the election night fell flat on its face, simply because he came prepared to scoff and revel gleefully in the muck he was planning to dish out like a euphoric hog wallowing in its mud hole! A comic has to be an “equal opportunity” funny man, or he relegates himself to be a well-paid activist cheer leading the cause of those who throw him his scrap of bread.
Today the elaborate coverage of orchestrated anti-Trump protests by forces who want to share power with Trump and are using the gullible millennials in their unholy mission only goes to show that the media has not learnt its lesson. It cannot use its pulpit to herd the “sheeple” anymore. There are non-conventional alternatives now. You cannot drown their voice. The mainstream media breathes life into the underground media when it abdicates its social responsibility. It is time for the media to find its backbone and stick with reporting news impartially. They should not inject their views or biases in anything but the editorial – and even that should be intellectually appealing and should pass the stink test of rationality.