Second in a series.
Media and politics are no longer strange bedfellows, they have become conniving, conspiring and cooperating bedfellows.
Before you shout me down ’cause I’m preaching good, this phenomenon transcends every political persuasion and media denomination. Bias and prejudice are alive, and you can have it in any flavor you like. The silos, filter bubbles and echo chambers extend into the media and political realm. The distinction is that these leaders are the difference-makers, often the creators of the talking points and inciting their troops with divisive rallying cries.
Many of today’s commentators, anchors and show hosts hail from strong political backgrounds, making them advocates rather than commentators. Sure, you may cherish their positions, but you must also realize they are incredibly biased. They rarely report news, they provide opinion and often jump in as a cheerleader. That’s the basis of today’s advocacy-based, opinion-driven news organizations.
More political operatives today have become so-called anchors, partisan journalists, experts and armchair generals to express their opinions as if they are news and fact. It’s one thing to show insight and knowledge to help the general public understand and gain insight. It’s entirely another when their bias shines through to disparage, discredit, mislead and slander.
As I’ve watched the ranting and railing in the interviews and the screaming, pointing fingers and personally demeaning commentary from so-called journalists and experts along with Facebook and Twitter posts, it leaves me with one overarching question: What do we do? What do I do? What do you do? Sure, I get it, America is broken. It’s burning before our very eyes, figuratively and literally.
Indeed, some if not many seem to be more interested in tearing down and destroying than establishing relationships and building bridges. That’s a scary notion, but it’s played out on television screens and social media platforms day in and day out. And, it didn’t just start last month.
The media — and even politicians — enjoy pointing to the low approval ratings of the president and the federal government regarding the COVID-19 outbreak. Yet, they refuse to acknowledge the same polls — and others before them — that show the approval numbers for the media and Congress are significantly lower. And that is not a new phenomenon. Approval surveys for media and Congress have been running low for years.
America is broken. Can we heal her?
As I wrote back in April in Media Social Distancing: Perhaps It’s Time:
To say that news media has divided the country is an understatement. The better argument is that the media has driven the destruction of civil discourse and cordial conversation in our society to a point that has left the largest chasm in our politics and social history.
It’s not only seen in the opinions and talking heads you see on television or in your favorite online media or blog, but it’s also in the steering of the narrative and presentation of so-called facts that fit that distorted narrative. Or not disclosing key facts or information that may go against the grain of the narrative destination.Chipalatta: Media Social Distancing April 11, 2020
But the question remains: What can and what will you — and I — do about it? Glad you asked.
- Become the lone voice in the wilderness, the exception, the leader. That means you will choose not to be obnoxious, rude, arrogant, nasty or offensive. Those voices are already out there.
- Be a voice of reason.
- Set personal boundaries, especially on pointless conversations and wild imagination conspiracies that lead nowhere (See Romans 16:17; 2 Timothy 3:5). Watch what enters your five senses, especially what you hear and see. In other words, shut down CNN, Fox, and the others, or significantly minimize their influence in your life.
- Clean up all of your television watching, computer surfing, social media interaction and the things that regularly distract you.
- Start your own media company today. This is important: You can be a voice of truth and remove the speculation, the innuendos, the mixture of facts and the vicious demeaning of other people. That means you fact-check your own social media posts, don’t blindly repost memes, clean up your conversation with others and examine your own motives.
- Identify a partner or someone who will join you. One by one, you can have an impact and change your environment. Slowly, you will break down the silos and echo chambers with the truth and leave behind the sky-is-falling fear-mongering, alarmist race-baiting and finger-pointing authoritarianism.
America is broken. Can we heal her?
As is the case with any area of life, there are good media outlets. Indeed, some try to get it right and leave out the emotion and bias. Yet in this day and time of ratings and ad dollars, it’s hard to toe the line and stick to reporting the news.
We have arrived at yet another crossroads. The time is now. Each of us must begin with an honest and sincere evaluation of where we are and where we are going. As individuals, households, communities, churches and as Americans.
Finally, we live in extraordinary times. We can not misread, ignore, neglect or avoid the messages that are falling at our feet. To do so would be disastrous. Today, America is broken. Tomorrow, she could be lost.