Where’s the Real News Reporting Gone?
When I was coming up in the TV reporting business, “60 Minutes” on CBS was the pinnacle of TV news. I was lucky enough to make it to the networks (ABC and CNN) and now run my own site on the internet (which is where the news business is all heading). Today, as far as I am concerned, “60” is not the pinnacle of journalism. I don’t know what it is, but it is not the truth and light it once was. That was clearly evident in the first and second interviews with Fed Chief Ben Bernanke in the last couple of years. I was so upset about how poorly the second interview was conducted, I wrote a stinging criticism of the segment called “CBS Allows Fed to Spread Disinformation Unchallenged.” What Bernanke said was so preposterous, Jon Stewart of “The Daily Show” made fun of it. To be fair, I have also complimented the show when it has done good reporting. That said, good reporting is not being done on much of the mainstream media (MSM) these days–journalism fail. Journalist and science fiction author, James Howard Kunstler, agrees. Mr. Kunstler is here with his take on what the MSM is telling the public and what you really need to know. Please enjoy his post below, and remember the Fallen this Memorial Day weekend.—Greg Hunter–
Guest Writer for USAWatchdog.com
Americans gathered around the hearth of CBS’s 60 Minutes must have been bemused to hear reporter Scott Pelley announce self-importantly that the US Department of Justice is investigating Lance Armstrong’s bicycling team for performance-enhancing drug use. Does it really matter if any pro athlete takes drugs? Why not throw Babe Ruth out of the Baseball Hall of Fame for drinking sixteen beers the night before a World Series opener? Or Ditto Mickey Mantle for that, plus smoking two packs of Marlboros in the dugout during every game.
Notice that Scott Pelley did not announce that the US DOJ is investigating Goldman Sachs, or Citi, or Merrill Lynch, or Bank of America or several other so-called banks for looting the American public and influence-peddling in the halls of government. Or the SEC and the CFTC for failing to regulate the trade in frauds and swindles. The window for that sort of action is closing, and with it the reasonable hopes of citizens in the legitimacy of institutions that manage things.
The failures in journalism are now so stupendous that there are only a few possible explanations.
1. The major media, hard pressed by declining revenues and the extremes of competition on cable TV and the Internet, are in thrall to corporate advertisers who expect cheerleading for the status quo in return.
2. Major media editors and producers – the officer corps of journalism – are not smart enough to tell the difference between what’s important and what’s not and can’t run their newsrooms.
3. Mainstream media only reflects the cognitive dissonance that pervades the collective imagination of a culture – too much noise to think coherently.
4. We really don’t want to know what’s going on – it’s too scary.
5. Sometimes a generation of leaders just fails.
For those of you interested in a digest of reality, here’s what’s going on:
• The global energy predicament really is a crisis, even though nobody is currently lining up at the gasoline pumps. It’s a crisis because peak oil is for real and oil is the primary resource of advanced economies, and there are no miracle rescue remedies (“drill, drill, drill,” shale oil, shale gas). Peak oil means that we can’t increase supply in relation to still-growing demand, which creates disturbances in the energy markets. Peak oil also leads directly to a crisis of capital (money), because a nation (an economy) that can’t get increasing energy “inputs,” can’t create more wealth, can’t generate more loans (debt), and most importantly can’t expect what we’ve come to think of as normal economic growth. This creates further disturbances and distortions in financial markets.
• Without that sort of growth you get stagnation and then contraction. We’re probably past the stagnation phase and into contraction. We tried to compensate for stagnation (and conceal it) by allowing the financial part of the economy grow from 5 percent of all activity to over 40 percent of all activity. In the process, banking changed from a boring utility aimed at directing capital into legitimate investment (highly regulated) to a swashbuckling realm of unregulated swindles having nothing to do with real capital allocation but rather aimed at the sales of worthless “innovative products” (CDOs, et cetera), the creaming off of huge transaction fees, the use of computers to game exchanges, colossal carry trades between banks and public treasuries (you borrow money at zero percent – for free! – and invest it in paper that pays, say, 2.5 percent and keep rolling it over), and let’s not forget pervasive accounting fraud practiced by government and private business to the degree that money matters are now completely opaque and dishonesty can run rampant. After a while, nobody can have faith in the way things work, and that is a dangerous situation because it leads to political problems. The ultimate question is: how does a society manage contraction?
• One way to think about it is to stop using the word “growth” and substitute the term “economic activity.” There are lots of useful things we can do to rearrange daily life in the USA that would put people to work, but they would tend to defy the status quo. We could recognize that peak oil means that we have to grow our food differently and make local agriculture a more up-front piece of the economy. We could rebuild the railroads so that people don’t have to drive everywhere. We could rebuild our inland ports to move more bulk freight on boats. Notice these are very straightforward activities, unlike the manipulation of financial paper and markets. We’re not interested in focusing on agriculture and transport reform. Business and political interests are arrayed against changing anything. Something’s got to give.
• Political problems arise when many people in a society lose faith that their institutions are competent, trustworthy, and fair, and seek ways to bring them down. We’re in a political crisis and we don’t know it. Other parts of the world know it, and more of them are finding out every day. Yesterday was Spain’s turn, as the governing party took a beating in local elections and unemployed young people moiled in the city squares. Many of them probably expected to work in corporate jobs. They may end up back on the farm or in the cork orchards. The rest of Europe has a lot to sort out, too, and after a half-century of being the world’s fairly-tale theme park, the terms of daily life have suddenly changed. The tensions between the requirement to adjust to change and the resistance to change will produce all kinds of disorder within and between the different nations of Europe. It will be hard to believe as it occurs, but essentially each nation, or region, will be thrown back on whatever resources it can muster, and that will be very difficult.
• The trouble in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) is probably not so much over abstract ideas about “freedom” and “democracy” (we flatter ourselves to think so) as food scarcity and the pressures of exploding populations. The OCED nations might not care so much if this region didn’t produce so much of the world’s precious oil – but it does, of course, so we can’t help but meddle in the politics there. I would not bet on continued stability of the type that has prevailed for decades, and by that I just mean the expectation that regular supplies of oil will get to the market. The USA is pissing away vast money resources to keep these supply lines open. We’ve made an enemy of Persia (Iran) and they want to rule the region, so we are trying to make a baloney sandwich out of them with garrisons east and west in Afghanistan and Iraq. It’s not working so well. Now, Persia is making noises about establishing missile bases in Venezuela. They may overstep on that one. Pay attention. China has a deep interest in keeping the oil supply lines open, and it’s possible, if the wells, pipelines, and terminals are not wrecked by whatever happens next in MENA, that China will get some oil even if we don’t. They offer engineering aid; we just send guys in desert camo with night-vision goggles and guns. Japan, you can possibly forget about. I maintain that they will be going medieval, especially now that they’ve foresworn further nuclear power development.
• If the US is politically nervous, it is not showing a whole lot at the moment, but there is so much potential for financial havoc and economic hardship that I have a hard time imagining the 2012 election will play out as many suppose – another red-blue pie-eating contest bought-and-paid-for by Wall Street. We’re cruising straight into some kind of money crisis that is going to spin heads. This isn’t the first time I’ve said we could wake up one morning and find a Pentagon general in charge of things. If US economic history is any rule, Barack Obama would just be plain un-reelectable. But would anybody really vote for such a bumbling, glad-handing Babbitt non-entity as Tim Pawlenty? The things that really could tip the USA over are boring issues like interest rates and currency values – and the rule of law in money matters. They can’t compete for sex appeal with Lance Armstrong and whoever the latest incarnation of Lindsay Lohan is these days.
Mr. Kunstler is a prolific and talented author. Some of his recent books include: “The Witch of Hebron,” “World made by Hand,” and “The Long Emergency.” To check out Mr. Kunstler’s bio (click here.) To go to his website (click here.)
WOW! – By now I’m sure you are aware of my very low opinion of MSM. I even had my satellite service disconnected this past Feb. 1st. I could no longer allow myself to pay my money to not only be so blatently lied to all day long, but being of the unwashed working class, treated like an idiot by the media. However, I am surprised at your ratther scathing review of your peers in this newscast business. However, I also agree 100% with your viewpoint here!!–LOL – BTW – Mr. Kunstler is on the mark today….!
60 minutes hasn’t been the same in years and part of the problem is (like you mentioned – the internet).
It used to have breaking news stories that you couldn’t find anywhere else, but with the advent of the internet, information has become so freely available that by the time I get home at 5 p.m. from work, I pretty much am up to speed with everything that’s happening around the world.
For example, when Osama Bin Laden was killed, I already knew something was happening because a guy from Abbotabad, Pakistan that I follow on twitter was “tweeting” about the raid as it occurred! He didn’t know of course what was happening at the time, but within minutes of the announcement about Osama’s death, his tweeter feed exploded because he was looking outside his window and writing about everything around that neighborhood.
It’s a different world today.
I have been w/o tv since 2006 when I bought my grossly overpriced home….whew–glad to see I have not missed anything important snce then.
I think it is pretty clear. Corporate dominance of virtually everything that happens. That sounds extreme, but consider the massive cover up of the gulf disaster. I suspect that corporatia employs some very heavy handed public relations outfits. Consider the BP gulf disaster. At first is was widely commented on and reported on as such. Within a couple of weeks though, a number of people shut up about it totally (Dr. Jeff Masters, for instance, was commenting almost daily on his mostly meteorological website and blog wunderground.com Then there were more and more tales surfacing in back channels that observers were being prevented from getting a close look, taking samples.. cleanup workers were threatened, BP and subsidiary workers were threatened, and the whole thing was taken over by BP and enforced by the coast guard. You can get a lot more source material from floridaoilspilllaw.com, also infowars.com
And now look at the Fukashima shenaningans. Apparently all three reactors are continue to spew radiation, meanwhile radiation data is not being collected, or being adjusted, with the Japanese and American governments helping out with that.
It is hard to imagine that such machinery would allow a free press …. and more, cash flow at press operations of all kinds is pretty strapped, and from what I understand, they welcome articles written by PR men. A friend of mine is a PR guy. PR people and related lobbyists write much of the legislation that gets passed.
Just my 2 cents.
James K.said ” I have a hard time imagining the 2012 election will play out as many suppose – another red-blue pie-eating contest bought-and-paid-for by Wall Street
He hit it right on,. The wild card is Ron Paul. If Americans can wake up to the reality he presents, it could be another ball game.
Anyone else see the similarities between Soviet state controlled Pravda and the MSM today and their growing attempts to regulate the Internet and everything else ?
The naive ones who say it can’t happen here are dead wrong,it’s happening before our eyes.
The next jackboot to fall will be the targeting of news sources like the Drudge Report who don’t parrot the party line by either overt or covert means.
The guy who does 60 minutes is not very good. I enjoyed the tyler hamilton 60 minutes recently about Lance Armstrong doping but i’m also a cyclist fan. When Dan Rathers (sp?) was around it was a much better show.
You have the correct anwser.
“4. We really don’t want to know what’s going on – it’s too scary”
I’m just glad it’s summer and time to plant the garden. I fine the soil and worms have more to say then one more fake news show. I like your stories Greg but the truth is depressing news sales for some reason. Preachers ,politicians and all salesman use fear to move the herd. I hated school when I was young because the teachers used fear. When I just about had all I could take, my mom sent me off to the high country of Montana to spend the summer of 1966 with my uncle. We spent the summer mending fence and watching over the herd. My uncle didn’t have much to say other then stay on the horse, by anyway you can. The good men I came across that summer had no fear and they didn’t try to use fear to move me. There is a big difference between information and fear, you stay with information when Corp. news is trying to drive the herd.
I remember watching 60 Minutes with my parents when it was first aired. 60 Minutes was hard hitting news and the best of investigative journalism. I can’t remember when the last time I viewed it but my best guess would be approaching twenty years. I want news. I do not want or care about Lance Armstrong or Hollywood. If I want fluff, I’ll watch Katie Couric or Sponge Bob Square Pants.
I was advised a few Mondays ago that my last day with my employer of the last decade is ending midsummer. I am not seeing any of the much touted recovery. I am seeing the “red shift” as the economy heads downward and away from me. I see dishonesty and collusion in the Main Stream Media working that old propaganda truism, “Tell a lie often enough and it will become true”. MSM’s problem this time is that the experience Americans are having is so counter to the Government and MSM’s propaganda that it is not working like it used to. Just because the Government changed the way they report inflation at very low rates is not “resonating” with the public. Hell, we are reminded of the phony-baloney numbers every time we buy groceries or gas.
Mr. Kunstler,Nice article
Thanks for commenting on this major unreported MSM mess, Greg.
I’ve been saying the same thing at my blog(s) (Welcome to Pottersville2 now) for years, and running Jim Kunstler!
If we can’t get the word out very soon that things are coming to a very bad resolution point (financially and ecologically to say the least), and get some decisive citizen response, we are then actually only just awaiting the metaphorical cliff-jumping moment.
Again, thanks for all you do to keep us informed!
It happened to me bro. The company I work for went bankrupt on the 20th of May. Where’s the recovery in that. I was in the home improvement business with Pikes and business was down 40% from last year. people still have no confidence to spend money even to keep their homes up. Good luck to us all and keep the truth machine running. Phil
Greg, I concur 100%! I am embarrassed and disgusted with how far investigative journalistic integrity has fallen in the mainstream media. As almost as if the stairical science fiction comedy “Idiocracy” has become reality.
It’s not like we were not warned many years ago by Georgetown University Professor Carroll Quigley. He was quite candid in his statements following his access to confidential papers of the Council on Foreign Relations in the early 60’s. Some 20 years later, in the 80’s, roughly 50 corporations controlled the vast majority of all news media in the U.S. Today, ownership of the news media has been concentrated in the hands of just six incredibly powerful media corporations. There are over 170 journalists, correspondents, and communications executives who are members of the CFR, and they do not write about the organization. Make no mistake, the Council on Foreign Relations, controls Corporate Media. They want to control what we see and hear and ultimately, what we think.
When we don’t demand more, we get much less. Fortunately many Americans are waking up to the truth and journalists like you are opening eyes with objective facts. All it takes is a spark to light a massive fire. Keep up the sparks coming Greg!
“The failures in journalism are now so stupendous that there are only a few possible explanations.”
You missed one Greg:
7. The False Prophet News Media.
They are a giant corporation protecting all the other corporations & those in bed with them.
Hey Greg, I completly agree with you concerning those pathetic interviews with Bernanke on 60 Minutes. The news media up here in Canada isn’t much better except for ‘The National’ (CBC) which does a decent job of reporting and covering major world events. Also, ‘Hardtalk’ on BBC World News is a great piece of journalism. It’s entertaining as well as educating to see individual guests squirm in their plush seat as they are grilled by the host. At least we can get the real deal from your site Greg. Keep up the honest work.