Congressman Lamar Smith (R-Idiocy) believes the press is biased and doesn’t represent the values of most Americans. Reasonable people could disagree on this but it’s certainly not an unusual or insane point of view.
What is insane is Smith’s solution. The Media Fairness Circus, er, Caucus
“will encourage fairness and balance in reporting, while calling attention to biased coverage in a fair and reasonable way. By bringing attention to media bias and promoting an open dialogue between members of the media and elected officials, we plan to remind the media of their profound obligation to provide the American people with the facts, and not tell them what to think.”
Politicians are going to do this? They can’t even have an open dialogue with each other. I’m guessing that when the Congressman says just provide the facts, he has in mind is something like the following:
Chart courtesy Center for Responsive Politics
I’m guessing the telling people what to think part would be asking pesky questions like this: Why does someone who was first elected in 1986 and hasn’t had a real opponent in at least a decade need to raise so much money in campaign funds? Or: Why would any reasonable person not think that you would be overly solicitous to those folks who gave you all that money? Or: What does campaign finance reform mean to you?
Rep. Smith also says, “A free press must be fully accountable to the citizens it serves because of its enormous influence, shaping the way the American people interpret the events happening around us.” How about we start with having our elected officials be fully accountable to citizens by putting an end to districting that makes a mockery of the idea of a two-party system?
The “Honorable” Congressman makes much of the fact that Americans “have lost faith in the media” and that the media is thought to be too liberal. I suspect his solution to the latter point would be to make it too conservative – ooops, told you what to think. My bad. As far as Americans having lost faith in the media, that just comes with the territory. The job of the press is to challenge people and institutions. This is not a job for people who want wide-spread approval. The last time Americans thought highly of the media was probably around the time of the Nixon resignation. I paraphrase – but only slightly – the words of community organizer Saul Alinsky: Don’t worry boys, we’ll weather this storm of approval and come out hated once again.
And speaking of approval ratings Congressman consider this: While only a third of the public approve of the job the press is doing that is still better than Congress’s numbers.
Rep. Smith says, “The Founding Fathers would be troubled by some of the clear biases that exist in the national media today.” Let us put aside the fact that the press back then would make even Glenn Beck seem impartial (OK, maybe not Glenn Beck). Instead let me go to the Congressman’s point and disclose my own prejudice. It is one that has been honed through years of experience in the news biz and which I think many reasonable people would agree with. It is this: “All politicians should be considered guilty until proven so.” Care to rebut that one, congressman?