American News Media Continues Its Decline

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Last spring, I wrote about MSNBC hosts Ron Reagan and Monica Crowley‘s on-air statement about the “triviality” of issues like Supreme Court nominations, and–even worse–MSNBC senior producer Tom Maciulis’s written revelation that news about lobbying scandals, the Bolton nomination and court appointments were things he “didn’t give a flying fig about.” Though it was obvious to me that no one in charge at the network cared too much about news, it was nevertheless shocking to hear both the anchors and the producer come right out and say so.

Worse still, the statements of these “news” network officials caused no stir at all. I don’t think anyone else even blogged about them, but they put a chill up my spine that has never gone away. Anyone who attempts to find out what is going on in the world knows that reliance on American mainstream news media will get her nowhere. When George W. Bush ran for the office of president in 2000, author, columnist and Texan Molly Ivins begged her fellow media employees, “Check the record!” They didn’t. Everything from Bush’s insider trading to his questionable military record to the mess he made of the Texas educational system and the environmental destruction he allowed industry to wreak on his state–all were virtually ignored by mainstream newspapers and television networks.

It should come as no surprise, then, that ABC’s Good Morning America has hired Glenn Beck as a regular commentator. In plugging Beck’s credentials, the show’s senior executive producer announced that Beck “is a leading cultural commentator with a distinct voice.”

Sure. His “distinct voice” recently struck Rep. Keith Ellison, our first Muslim Congressperson, with “”I have been nervous about this interview with you, because what I feel like saying is, ‘Sir, prove to me that you are not working with our enemies.'”

It was Beck who said to Diane Sawyer, “Christmas is really about…the death of [Jesus], redemption…and having a second bite at the apple. Who’s offended by that?” He “celebrated” the death of Abu Musab-Zarqawi with a “Zarqawi bacon cake,” predicted that we may have to “nuke” the entire Middle East, made fun of the names of missing Egyptian students, and described New Orleanians who could not or did not leave when Katrina hit as “scumbags.” And in a rant against so-called “political correctness,” Beck became so upset at the thought of wall signs being done in Braille that he quipped, “I’m going to put in Braille on the coffee pot…’Pot is hot.'”

Hate sells. It’s a pity that news doesn’t.

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THE TRUTH...

is the first thing despots go after. An unwavering commitment to it is probably what draws you to Mother Jones' journalism. And as we're seeing in the US and the world around, authoritarians seek to poison the discourse and the way we relate to each other because they can't stand people coming together around a shared sense of the truth—it's a huge threat to them.

Which is also a pretty great way to describe Mother Jones' mission: People coming together around the truth to hold power accountable.

And right now, we need to raise about $400,000 from our online readers over the next two months to hit our annual goal and make good on that mission. Read more about the information war we find ourselves in and how people-powered, independent reporting can and must rise to the challenge—and please support our team's truth-telling journalism with a donation if you can right now.

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