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Network TV News: Evil or Incompetent?

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of

From the very beginning of our Republic, observers and statesmen have noted that success as a nation depended heavily on an informed and active public. Jefferson went so far as to contend that citizens who took arms against the United State government in Shay’s Rebellion should not be harshly treated but rather educated on the goals and purposes the government had sought to achieve.


In the complex and intense world of the 21st Century, an informed and aware public is more essential than ever. Citizens are asked to make judgments on issues and candidates where the decision could literally mean life or death for millions.

And yet, what is the public fed nightly by those over-paid “news” organizations at what is called the Networks? The public is force fed a steady diet of propaganda, distortions and outright pap.

One night last week as I sat watching NBC Nightly News, this point came home to me more starkly than ever before. Consider the elements of that broadcast.

It is the day before the Ohio and Texas primaries. A main issue in the debate between Hillary Clinton and Barrack Obama revolves around which of the two would be stronger in dealing with foreign affairs. And yet, NBC treated the meat of the issue as if it was of no consequence.

In all of 31 seconds, NBC gave stories about the threat by Venezuela – a major oil exporter – to launch a war against a neighboring country, the Russian election where stark authoritarianism is raising its head once again, the bombing of another nation by the United States, and near open warfare in Gaza. That’s right: 31 seconds to deal with four stories, any one of which could have devastating consequences for American citizens.


So how did NBC fill the rest of the time? They spent 4 minutes and 20 seconds on two stories that will warm my mother’s heart. The first came down to “eat a good breakfast.” The second had one theme: “get 8 hours of sleep a night.”

The world is on the edge of explosion. Economies and governments are teetering and the best NBC can do is tell us to eat breakfast and get enough sleep? Why this story selection? What would lead supposedly serious, highly paid, “professional” journalists to make such silly and transparently deceptive decisions?

That’s the most troubling aspect of all. Looking at that one broadcast, there really is only one of two options that explain it. Either these highly paid, “professional” journalists are neither professional nor journalists – they are simply incompetent at their jobs. Or, they had a reason. They decided that it was not in their agenda to inform the American public of the true nature of the danger and problems our nation faces out in the larger world.

I will leave it to the conspiracy theorists to determine who they wanted to help or hurt. But as FDR said, if anything happens in politics you can bet it was planned. So, I’m pretty sure the story selection was a planned action by people looking to influence how Americans viewed the state of things. There is a word for that. It is called propaganda. And that is what these “news” organizations have become – pure propagandists for whatever cause or view they want to advance. Nothing they report or say can be taken at face value – they have an agenda in every word of it. Or else, of course, they could just be incompetent.


Is it any wonder that millions of people are turning to the Internet for news and information?

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