Of all the things that have happened to turn me into a cynical old bastard over the past 20 years or so, the deterioration of journalism ranks right up there with the worst of them. Back in my school days, my life’s goal was to become one of those hard hitting investigative reporters or a journalistic crusader righting the wrongs of the world by exposing them to a public hungry for enlightenment and then later settling into a weekly column in that would be a prime source of information and inspiration to millions. I took every class I thought was even remotely related to writing and reporting, cramming six years of various English classes into four years of high school. I was a devout reader of Jack Anderson’s “Washington Merry-Go-Round” and Mr. Anderson served as a kind of role model all through my formative years. There were others that inspired me at the time but my ultimate goal was to become the Jack Anderson of my generation.
Like so many childhood aspirations, that one of mine was destined never to be as I went in an entirely different direction and American journalism went in another but it was something I never completely forgot and I read and watched the”news” with perhaps a tad more attention to substance over style than most, developing a tendency to try to look behind the printed or spoken words to try to see the real import of what was being said. As time went on and the Jack Andersons and the Walter Cronkites passed from the scene, what I began to see back there began to change drastically into something far from the idealistic notions my younger self had entertained until we have finally come to the point that the word “journalist” has pretty much come to have the same kind of connotation as… well… pimp or whore or prostitute.
This is because like everything else in this country, journalism is all about the money these days. No longer do we have reporters digging up the real dirt or commentators or even muckrakers gong after the things we need to know. All we have today are partisan hacks being paid huge bucks to read the copy that the people signing their paychecks put in front of them. The “news” has been replaced by an endless parade of these cretins, few of whom would have constituted a zit on a real journalist’s ass back in the 50s and 60s.
Today we’re treated to the spectacle of “Meet The Press… which at one time early on, was considered THE definitive go to show if you wanted the plain, unvarnished truth… being hosted by a lightweight wimp like David Gregory who wouldn’t know a hardball if someone fired one up his ass. And perhaps more telling than anyone else, it’s why we have a couple of comedians… doing comedy shows that are openly parodies of news programs and make no clams to being anything else… being named as the most trusted figures in journalism, even though neither of them is a journalist and their shows have nothing to do with journalism other than to poke fun at today’s version of it.
Today we have Fox News, which serves as more or less the dust bin where those so called journalists, those hacks who can’t manage to maintain their Fascist rhetoric within even the totally lax standards employed by the industry at large these days go to get a check from Roger Ailes for spewing the Fox line. O’Reilly, Hannity, Coulter, Malkin… None of these people could have even found employment as journalists or even “commenters” (which is Fox’s euphemism for it’s gaggle of non-news talking heads) back in the days when being a journalist required two things almost universally lacking in Fox’s mob… talent and integrity.
Without an informed citizenry, there can not only be no democracy but there can be no truly representative republic. Without an honest and impartial source of information serving as what used to be referred to as our “fourth estate”, there can be no informed citizenry. In case you can’t or don’t care to do the math, take a look at the Tea Party and today’s right wing rhetoric. I seriously doubt that you’ll have any problems making the connection. Journalism is well and truly dead in this country and that indeed does suck.