Hello. It’s been a while since I’ve submitted anything to your friendly neighborhood paper for publication. Social Media just seemed to be so much easier … and immediate. But I’ve seen it turn ugly over the past few years, and it is beginning to frighten me. To be clear, I’m not a man whofrightens easily.
Politically, it seems that people who lean to the left are more concerned about the First Amendment; and those who lean to the right are more concerned about the Second Amendment. That’s OK. They’re both important, or they wouldn’t be in there, would they? In full disclosure, for those who don’t know me, I’m one of those snowflake lefties, and a gun owner – but this column is not political, so please don’t let my political leanings dissuade you from reading further.
With its roots in Social Media – Twitter, Facebook – there is a dangerously growing sentiment that the “free press” is “an enemy of the people.” Does this make sense? Is it true? No matter your political persuasion, I am asking you to examine this belief carefully, thoughtfully, with an open mind. If you’ll do that, within those simple guidelines, given that you possess the intelligence to have read the preceding 200 or so words, I’m confident that you will arrive at the correct conclusion.
Ask yourself whether it is the press or the government that stands to benefit most from what information, or lack of information the public has. What does the press have to gain by giving you negative information, dirt, on those you have elected to serve in public office? What do those elected officials have to gain by convincing you that stories reported by the media are false?
An argument could be made that “bad news” sells papers and advertising on TV and radio; and, therefore, it is in the financial interest of the media to push as much of that as possible. In relatively normal times, that would be an effective point; but these are not normal times. Many people are turning away from all forms of what has come to be known as Mainstream Media, to the point of violence, and putting all their trust in what they see on Social Media. This causes only financial pain for the conventional media. But they keep reporting the news, whether it’s good or bad. Why? Why would they continue to do that, and not pander to the demands of subscribers in order to get those all-important ad dollars back?
If you’ll permit, let’s go back to me for a moment. I’ve had hundreds of my columns printed in newspapers over the past couple of decades. I can assure you, without the slightest hesitation, that I haven’t gotten rich by doing so. And, even though my offerings are generally frivolous opinion pieces, by virtue of the fact that they are in the newspaper some folks consider me “one of them” – a member of the dreaded MSM – paid handsomely by moguls like George Soros to spread lies and misinform the people about the world they live in; selling my soul to the Devil to the peril of my own friends and family. To the peril of my granddaughters. I’m not! I’m a regular guy who lives in a small suburban neighborhood in Arkansas. I drive a 2002 Ford pickup. It’s red. I’m an insurance adjuster and a private investigator and a photographer, and a digital artist – and anything else I can do to earn a buck – because I don’t get those MSM checks, and I still have bills to pay. And (surprise!) neither do the many real news people I have gotten to know through association with my column. You know them. They’re your neighbors and relatives and members of your church. You see them at the grocery store where you’re both standing in the security line fumbling for your photo IDs so you can buy some coffee. Sometimes they’re at the next table from you at your local restaurant; in the next seat at the movie theater. You recognize each other and speak of how your day is going. What do those people have to gain by lying to you about the goings on in your government?
Conversely, there are those in (literally) ivory towers, issuing decrees in 140 character increments, telling you who and what you should believe, and insisting that you trust them with things as important as sending your sons and daughters to war. You don’t know them. You’ve never met. Likely, you’ve never even seen these people in real life. And it is your real life you are trusting them with. On what basis, what evidence, do you give them that trust?
As stated, I’m a liberal columnist. Don’t take it from me! Maybe you know a conservative one. Ask that person how many of the people he or she works with gets those George Soros checks. He/She should know. Ask that columnist who sets the agenda for what he/she writes. Get back to me on that?
Historically, unofficially, the US government has consisted of four branches: The Executive branch, the Legislative branch, the Judicial branch, and the Press (media). The first three of those are there to run the country as they see fit; and in doing so there is endless potential for them to misuse that power for personal benefit. The fourth is there to let you know whether or not the other three are playing by the rules – and they get paid either way.
The media is you. Are you an enemy of the people?
© 2018, Rick Baber