How much news is really opinion?

How much news is really opinion?

Another media reporter, Lisa Meyers, has spoken out on the problem she sees in her former profession; journalism. While she may not have al the same issues as Sharyl Attkisson had, her concern is very similar. The media are taking sides.

Some might consider that Fox News is the major culprit, but Sharyl was from CBS and Lisa is from NBC, and both speak primarily to what they experienced themselves. And if you’re peeved at how Fox does news, there’s a way to fix that, which involves building a better “fox-trap”.

I discussed the Indiana Religious Freedom Restoration Act last time, but this time I have a great example of what RFRA is not going to protect. Actual discrimination against people is not covered. Refusal to participate in an event might still be. Two very different things.

Mentioned links:

Lisa Myers: TV journalism deteriorating

Fox News is the most trusted national news channel. And it’s not that close.

Michigan Auto Shop Owner Faces Backlash After Declaring He Won’t Serve Gays

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Show transcript

On this podcast, I’ve highlighted the case of Sharyl Attkisson, who left CBS because her investigative reporting on the Obama administration kept getting cut and shelved by the network. She went out and wrote a book about it, called “Stonewalled”. Lisa Meyers was a reporter for NBC, and left that network about a year ago. While it appears she left after decades just because she was ready to move on, some answers to interview questions recently caught my attention. While she might not make common cause with Attkisson completely, she did have something to say about the state of journalism today.

When asked, “What is the state of TV journalism today?”, she answered:

I am going to talk about the deterioration in the quality of journalism you see on TV. I think the primary mission of journalism is to hold the powerful accountable, be they in government or corporate America. There is less and less interest in network television today holding the White House or any other part of government accountable. I fear there is a calculation that the audiences they are trying to reach don’t care that much about the serious news. I think most of the political coverage these days has all the depth of Twitter.

I also worry that journalists today appear to have chosen sides when it comes to political coverage. I think you see that in the sagging approval numbers of TV news over the last few years. We’ve seen trust in the media hit its lowest level ever in 2013 or 2014 surveys and I think the lack of depth and the feeling that too many journalists have chosen sides has caused viewers to question whether we are giving it to them straight and whether we are making a politically balanced presentation.

My observation would be that networks are holding the powerful accountable less and less during a Democratic administration. It seems to be dipping these days just because Obama is in the Oval Office. Put a Republican in there, and I’ll bet the “primary mission” will become primary again. But with her leaving at this point, I can see how she might consider this a trend. Certainly, it is happening.

Additionally, her worry that journalists have chosen sides is telling. She’s coming from NBC, and Attkisson came from CBS, and both have similar concerns. Some might charge that Meyers is probably talking about Fox News, but then she talks about the sagging approval numbers of TV news. That’s not happening at Fox; that’s an issue with the broadcast networks, and MSNBC. Fox is currently the most trusted news network, so considering that, the concern Meyers has is more likely something she sees as endemic.

And for the most part, I agree with her on that. Whether it’s an opinion I agree with or not, the appearance of bias really turns me off and makes me wonder if I’m getting the whole story. This is why, though I agree that Fox has a conservative bent, I’m glad that it exists. Otherwise, where would you go for the other side of the story? There’s no question in my mind that the other networks I mentioned generally have a leftward tilt, so I believe Fox is necessary in today’s TV news climate. The other networks created a climate that a Fox News could flourish in by filling a need the other networks ignored, and the ratings and trust polls prove that the need was indeed there.

Want to deal a crushing bow to Fox? Simple. Give both sides an equal hearing on the other networks. It might take some time to rebuild that trust, but do it well – build a better “foxtrap” – and the world will beat a path to your door.

Brian Klawiter of Grandville, Michigan, is clearly not a listener to Consider This. How do I know? Well, I’ll let him tell it in his own words. Mr. Klawiter owns Dieseltec Automotive Repair, and he put this statement on his business’ Facebook page:

“Our rights as conservative Americans are being squashed more and more everyday. Apparently if you are white (or close to it), you have a job, go to church, and own a gun… That translates into racists, privileged, bigot, conspiracy theorist…I would not hesitate to refuse service to an openly gay person or persons. Homosexuality is wrong, period. If you want to argue this fact with me then I will put your vehicle together with all bolts and no nuts and you can see how that works.”

There was more, but that’s the gist of it. So, where to begin? Let’s start with what I said a few weeks ago; that if you refuse service to sinners, then it’s time to close up shop. We are all imperfect. To be clear about what types of sinners he will and won’t server, perhaps he should post a list.

Look, I know why he’s frustrated, but his reaction is just as wrong as the actions that preceded it. He’s made it personal, and it shouldn’t be. The issue that came to the fore over Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act is about a same-sex wedding ceremony; not the individuals participating in it. The examples that I’ve been showing of people who have been arrested and fined, have all been those who did serve (and hire) homosexuals in everything else. It was just the ceremony that they were being asked to participate in was something they wished not to take part in.

And then Mr. Klawiter comes along to really muddy the waters. No thanks, Brian. That’s not how we roll.

However, the upside of this incident is that it has served as an example of the kind of behavior that is not protected under Indiana’s RFRA, or any states version, or the federal version. This thing about it being open season against gays because of RFRA is a myth. This is not an example of what will happen to gays, because if he’s taken to court he will lose, especially since there is already legal precedent for him to lose. He has almost a quarter of a century of it waiting to take him on. This kind of discrimination has never won under anyone’s RFRA in all that time.

I don’t know how much more plain I can make it.


Filed under: GovernmentMediaReligion