Watching Governor Greg Abbott of Texas hold a press conference in Uvalde, TX made it plain that no one takes the media seriously. Abbott said that eighteen year olds in Texas have been able to buy “long guns” for the last 60 years. No journalist asked about assault rifles or the period of the ban on them (from 1994 to 2004) and mass shootings in Texas during that period. Governor Abbott and the Texas media initially after the shooting said the shooter had a handgun, it was only late in the day of primary elections that the true murder weapons were revealed. Journalists never asked Governor Abbott about the delay in identifying the weapons, or if there were a political reason for this. Abbott said the murderer had no adult record, but there was no discussion that his eighteenth birthday was only a week before the shooting. An obvious question for the Governor and legislators is whether they believe that eighteen year olds need weapons of war like assault rifles; no journalist asked about this. It is reported that most mass shootings are committed by young men between the ages of eighteen and twenty-four; if this is a fact it was never brought up by journalists. Governor Abbott said that mental health is a problem in the Uvalde, Texas area; he was not asked why he would not expand Medicaid to get more dollars from the federal government for healthcare. Journalists in America have a problem; they seem to have limited mental capacity, courage, or character. Greg Abbott, Republicans, and other politicians regularly get away with ridiculous lies, misdirection, or spin to the detriment of American institutions and citizenry. If journalists are record keepers they need to use it to ask questions that matter.
Have you noticed how many times you watch the news and you get a lot of perceptions and feelings about an issue, but not details that are important? Why are there so many lies swirling around but no truth? Is the truth unaccessible or are media outlets not interested in you having the major facts to make a decision? I hear a lot of talk about voting rights bills, but rarely any facts about what is in the bills. Why don’t we start with the facts of the bills and then ask politicians (who work for us) what is their opinion and vote on the bills? Mass media outlets are so involved in the politics of the major events of our times because they have their own angle: access to decision-makers, and ownership’s interests in outcomes. Every story about voting rights should begin with what the major pieces of the bills are; but we never hear that because that might sway us one way or the other. It is clear that citizens or viewers are not the bottom line; it is the interests of the elites. America is dying a slow death because truth and facts are relegated to the sidelines. Ask your favorite network or channel to display the major facts about bills, acts, proposals, and any events they cover; if they get something wrong or leave it out they can always update and revise. What our media is doing is dumbing down content to the point where consumers have no idea what is in their interest, and lies make as much sense as facts.
We are entering a critical period in the story of America. We cannot undo what has already been done to bring us to this point, but we can act to avoid doom for our republic. Call, email, text, or write to your representatives to vote for the Freedom to Vote Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Act. Fighting to make voting easier for American citizens is the best way to stop delusional authoritarians from destroying the country. When dark money is taken out of our elections and gerrymandered districts no longer allow politicians to select their voters; we will be stronger. Access to the truth, voter education and high citizen participation are critical for a strong democracy; we are trending in the wrong direction. Today’s Republican Party lies so often because they have propaganda networks that will echo what they say without challenge. Talking points that attack the truth and science are running rampant in our country. Before it is too late we must all remember the famous words of Senator Hiram Johnson; “The first casualty of war is the truth.” Who and what will be next in a struggle that January 6, 2021 only made clear?
It is Labor Day 2021 and many Americans are concerned about a NY Times front-page article attacking Joe Biden. We call it journalism because they are supposed to keep a record of what is taking place, but for what; are they journalists or scribes? You rarely see “journalist” hold people accountable for the truth, so do they look at their journals after the fact, or just write and agree with what they are told? Many Americans noticed when Trump lied regularly and “journalists” moved on to the next question with a lie for an answer. The media was cowardly with Trump, and now they demonstrate anger as they question the Biden Administration about issues that have little impact on average Americans. We need good journalists who pursue and defend the truth, while pushing back on lies. We, as citizens, have to demand journalism be held to a high standard and not just defend their tribe or class. Do high-paid journalists attack Biden because he wants to raise taxes on those making more than 400k (to pay for the Build Back Better plan)? Do they overlook Trump’s madness and massive criminality because he offered tax cuts with renewed systemic white supremacy? Why don’t we know the names and faces of the persons who wrote and introduced the Texas bounty on women pursuing reproductive rights? Research and demand journalism that informs and respects American citizens.