The mainstream media gets denounced on cable news programs, corporate talk radio, best-selling books and behemoth blogs every day. This strangely doesn’t seem to bother the mainstream media as it heroically absorbs all the jabs thrown at it from, well, itself. It’s stoically unfazed. Admirable in its immunity.
Yes, this code word for “liberal media,” or “not liberal enough media” or “not-the-person-on-the-television-at-that-moment media,” is like rice deploring white. The ocean against wet. Trees condemning shade. It’s an epic struggle of hyperbolic proportions.
It seems some media conglomerates like the one owned and influenced by Rupert Murdoch, News Corp, just don’t trust other media conglomerates. No honor among major media shares. And MSNBC feels like they’re not with the other two of the three 24-hour news networks and their multiple sub-networks because they often claim they counter the “mainstream media.” So it appears the entire mainstream media is against the mainstream media.
Almost poetic, isn’t it? But the mainstream media won’t tell you this. No you’ll have to check out ham radio, smoke signals or the cork board at the YMCA to find this out.
Right after the nation was aghast last Christmas that Christian Broadcasting Network’s televangelist Pat Robertson stated the people of Haiti made a pact with the devil to get rid of the French as his explanation for the catastrophic earthquake, (described by one Haitian tweeter as a “natural holocaust”) Joe Scarborough was quick to criticize the “mainstream media.” Joe whose Twitter handle is @JoeNBC, literally meaning “the only Joe at the National Broadcast Network” pounced into his “I’m an outsider” role, “MSM will now obsess over Pat Robertson’s ‘devil’ comment but will pay no attention to his organization’s remarkable relief work worldwide.”
And then Joe, host of Morning Joe watched by nearly half a million people every day, went on to list Robertson’s good deeds excusing Robertson’s pro-colonial/pro-slavery stance. Of course this made Joe’s first statement incorrect. There was someone in the MSM paying attention to Pat’s good deeds: it was Joe.
If you can complain about the mainstream media from a national platform, it’s akin to being a ventriloquist act without the dummy: you’re bantering with your own voice.
Speaking of which, also-ran veep candidate Sarah Palin loves bashing the mainstream media. She does so from an enormous national platform, a far bigger platform than most people who consider themselves members the mainstream media. So when she’s pleads with the “press” (people who make their living from the media) to “quit making things up” she’s technically addressing herself. She’s one of the mythmakers she battles against on her gig as a paid Fox News Channel contributor. But she won’t just “quit making things up,” that would be letting the mainstream media tell her what to do.
The media, mainstream or not, is not a monolith. American Idol is a monolith. It has one singular goal, millions of devotees and a small group in charge of its content. The press in its entirety may have been a giant uniform mass years ago. But today, it’s especially fractured with general interest newspapers failing and more and more newscasts being broadcast to compete with other broadcasts. It’s getting to the point where one can absorb oneself in “media” all day long without ever stumbling upon one single idea with which to disagree.
The alleged mainstream media is the Sasquatch of media criticism: a myth perpetuated by the fact it’s still being talked about. It’s a rhetorical tick, a throwback to when there weren’t millions of blogs, hundreds of newspapers, dozens of news channels all live-streaming on Twitter.
Not that the press shouldn’t be criticized. It should. Just not in sweeping generalities where no one can possibly be held accountable.
My plea is to everyone in the media: unless you put the “mainstream media” in the same category with unicorns, leprechauns and ethical bankers – stop talking about the mainstream media.