Partisan politics have pushed journalism to highlight Trump’s latest misadventures, blocking out other stories.
One night at family dinner, over another argument about Trump, my little brother jokingly coined a phenomenon he called “Blitzer’s Law.” A variation of “Godwin’s Law,” the rudimentary theory states that as a conversation progresses, the chances of someone mentioning Donald Trump exponentially increases. The 24/7 news cycle seems to bear this out: everywhere we look, whether it’s the newspaper, television, radio, the internet or even the occasional blimp, Trump’s face and voice seem to follow.
America finds itself at an impasse in how it produces and intakes news. What is the media’s purpose? Will it persist as an annoyingly depressing reality show, depicting the most controversial and high-profile politicians as celebrities and propagating a perpetual game of “the other side is ruining America”? Or can news function as an investigative force, grounded in norms of truth and relevancy?
Major credible news sources seem to blare the same headlines, providing supposedly unique takes while giving time for pundits to spin and conjure mistruths on national television to millions of people. Jeffrey Lord served as an ineloquent mouthpiece on CNN for Donald Trump’s bigoted actions and incompetence. Academics use Dinesh D’Souza’s writing and filmmaking as examples of terrible scholarly work, yet D’Souza has been published in several high-profile newspapers.
Worst of all, the American public, the majority of which doesn’t have the patience or time for advanced critical thinking, is subjected to this garbage for the sake of what? Honesty? That can’t be it. The man who lies about the number of people at his inauguration or whether 15 million illegal immigrants voted in California should not be reinforced. Yet the Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, Fox News and CNN continue to serve as platforms for sycophants to defend Trump’s actions and present their opinions as facts.
News pretends to be principled journalism while serving as an entertainment source for the sake of profit through advertisers. I don’t buy into the myth of the informed American voter; no one can convince me that in any point in the nation’s 229-year history, the American public conducted intellectual discourse through an impartial, truth-revering media. Americans have always relied on heuristics, or mental shortcuts, to vote on policies. Voting patterns tend to manifest mostly through political parties, race or sex. Nonetheless, the media has transformed significantly from its days of investigative journalism and voicing intelligent political opinions.
Outlets like Fox News and CNN fill airtime discussing Trump’s latest fiascos with supposed experts and drown out truth for the sake of being “fair and balanced.” To paraphrase one of the best shows to ever grace television, “The Newsroom,” not all stories have two sides. Some have one, others have five.
Therefore, when Brooke Baldwin, Jake Tapper, Anderson Cooper or Don Lemon pretend to moderate a panel of conflicting pundits, I’ve got some advice: turn it off. Their deliberate media circus is a waste of your time. Fox News is practically a talk show channel that averages a fact every two years, and only when they’re legally obligated to provide it (usually due to sexual harassment allegations).
News is not meant to only discuss the president and politics. Although one can argue that everything is inherently political, news also provides the opportunity for journalists to investigate places inaccessible to the average American. Journalism allows Americans voters to place themselves out of their own shoes by watching reporters expose wasteful corporate practices, discrimination based on race, gender or sexuality, environmental concerns, academic conversations, historical shifts, scientific discoveries, construction of extraordinary achievements and countless other occurrences that escape our attention. These stories shine a light on the hidden aspects of American life; without an understanding of others’ experiences, a diverse democracy can never hope to thrive.
Trump’s antics aren’t amusing enough to justify them being repeatedly displayed on every news outlet. I can only stand as much stupidity as a certain 1 p.m. class on Monday, Wednesday and Friday permits me. The news must diversify itself, not only for the sake of my sanity, but to recommit to its sacred duty of informing the American public. It requires a series of conversations about what the media ought to be, and the result of that debate will likely determine the intellectual, deliberative tradition in America.