Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Call the fouls

In today's editorial, the unnamed Courier editor calls for the right ideas, but in doing so contributes to the problem and ducks responsibility.

Yes, absolutely, we need representatives in government who will bury their egos and work together for the greater good. But the editor does us all a disservice by pretending to stand on the lofty mountaintop, saying both sides are equally at fault. It only takes one obstructionist to halt a negotiation, one criminal to steal your purse.

The primary constitutional responsibility of the press is to inform the voters so that we may make better decisions about what we want government to do and who we want to represent us in doing it. So when one party is trying to get something important done and the other is telling lies and obstructing that work only to gather more power, it's the editor's responsibility to tell us that.

Instead it's become the fashion for the commercial press to pump up the conflict and cast the contenders as equal in everything, like sports coverage. With no sustained interest in the integrity of the process, the ideas put forward or the real consequences of previous decisions, the only value left is who is winning the fight today. That's pro wrestling, not political analysis.

Here's the truth right now: the Republican minority in Congress is preventing the healing of our economy, the creation of vitally needed jobs and a sensible solution to our health-care disaster because they calculate that voters will blame the Democrats and vote for Republicans instead. Neither side can claim perfect integrity, but the Rs are playing a dirty game. At the state level, the Republican majority, which could easily be focusing on the state's economy and jobs for Arizonans, are instead cementing their hold on power by whipping up fear of Mexicans, without reference to truth or reality. All this is being covertly manipulated by very rich men for their own gain at the expense of the vast majority of us. None of this is conspiracy theory. All these statements have been extensively and carefully documented, and that reporting is easy to find. But the commercial press in the main will not tell you about it. It doesn't fit the narrative.

One factor in this is that people seem to prefer to hear sports coverage over boring old facts and careful analysis. I think that's chicken and egg -- they watch it because that's pretty much all there is to watch, and it molds expectations. The other, far more important factor is that the commercial press is owned lock, stock and smoking barrel by those large corporations whose political interests run counter to ours. The descent of news to where it's indistinguishable from entertainment is no accident.

The editor is one of the few people in our community who has the power to buck this trend and do some real good. He could bury his ego and his political agenda, and be the fair umpire dedicated to a clean game rather than the sports promoter trying to sell more tickets. But that requires watching the players closely and being unafraid to call the fouls. To do that fairly, he can't bet on the game. Passing over fouls by one team indicates the fix is in.

You're reading this blog, so you know all this and I'm preaching to the choir. But every day you talk to people who don't get this, and, lacking a trustworthy fourth estate, the respected word of one person to another is the only avenue left for communicating these things. Please, speak up.

1 comment:

Mia Connolly said...

Hear, hear. So there's a Prescott Progressive Thinktank commencing on the evening of Sept 14. Would love for you to be there.