In general, lawyers are the professional group held most in contempt by the American people. This assessment is a bit unfair, since it is trial lawyers and judges acting as legislators who give the legal profession the awful name it has earned.
But there is a professional group that merits decent people's contempt more than lawyers -- the news media.
The news media have awesome power, yet there are virtually no checks on that power.
There are far more checks on the power of every elected official, for example, than on any news organization. Politicians are beholden to courts and to the electorate; they are constantly monitored by the press; and they often must retire due to term limits.
But aside from talk radio, there is virtually no public criticism of any newspaper, TV news program or news magazine; and they never have to run for re-election. They also have little competition. In Los Angeles, as in almost all cities in America, there is essentially one newspaper. If power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely, how shall we describe the news media, which are more powerful than anyone but the president of the United States and have no checks on their power?
One description that comes to mind is unparalleled hubris. There is no other rational explanation for the contempt the news media have for individual lives.
Remember Richard Jewell, the guard at the 1996 Atlanta Summer Olympics who discovered a pipe bomb minutes before it exploded? Though one person was killed, Jewell saved many lives. Yet, he went from hero to villain three days later when the news media announced he was an FBI suspect and then camped across from his apartment day and night, pointing their high-powered cameras at his door. His life was dissected in the media, where he was regularly humiliated for living with his mother and other implied failures. Eighty-eight days later, he was cleared of any suspicion.
Remember Marv Albert, the national sportscaster? I will never forget, when I broadcast on the ABC affiliate in Los Angeles, hearing as the lead item -- the lead item -- on the ABC Radio news broadcast a detailed description of Albert's most private sexual behavior. Only people with a self-image as demi-gods could broadcast such humiliating information that was of no importance whatsoever to the public.
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