Thursday, March 26, 2009

America’s Latest Conflict: The Mainstream Media vs The Dumb Fish

Forget the race war or the class war, the new war in America seems to be between The Mainstream Media and, as described by one recent radio personality, “The Dumb Fish.”

Yes, in case you missed it, during the March 24, 2009 broadcast of Lou Dobbs Tonight radio personality Chris Krok of WMAC in Macon referred to the average American citizen as “dumb fish”. Here’s an excerpt from the show transcript.

DOBBS: Well, joining me now, three of the country's best radio talk show hosts in Macon Georgia, Chris Krok, WMAC in Macon, good to have you with us, in Albany Paul Vandenburgh, WDGJ, and here in New York, my colleague and buddy John Gambling, WOR good to see you.

Let's start this out gentlemen. Chris Krok let's go with, ESPN, "60 Minutes," Jay Leno and now a primetime news conference. What do you think?

CHRIS KROK, WMAC IN MACON: Lou, you set this up perfectly for me. I created something called the people, he's fishing, trolling, looking for dumb fish. That's why he went on Jay Leno. He's looking for people who don't know that he is -- his administration said to Dodd, keep those loopholes in there for the -- for AIG. So he is trolling. He needs to -- somebody needs to tell him, Coach K should have been more to the point. Fix this country, not run it into the ground and stop worrying about basketball.

DOBBS: Paul?

PAUL VANDENBURGH, WGDJ IN ALBANY: If you go back over the last couple of weeks, it started when he went to a Washington Wizards basketball game, sat there in the front row. He did this thing on ESPN. He then went on "The Tonight Show" with Jay Leno. He did "60 Minutes" on Sunday night and I found it amazing that he said he's home in the afternoon when the girls get home on school and he sees them on the weekend and I'm thinking, when does he work? I know guys that work pretty hard that are never home in when they kids get home, and they're kids grow up and go on and have kids of their own and they're never there once. I'm wondering, if this guy has really latched on to the importance of this job yet.

JOHN GAMBLING, WOR IN NEW YORK: I couldn't agree more with what has just been said. Leave the airplane in the hangar, get into the oval office and get to work. What does he think he's doing? The Leno thing was amazing. When he screamed, I'm stunned at the AIG bonuses. I looked at the television and said, are you kidding me? He knew exactly those AIG bonuses were in that, and the loopholes were there, and he looks into the camera and to Jay Leno and the nation and world and says I didn't know anything about it? Come on. That's disingenuous at its best.

KROK: Because those people that watch Jay Leno don't know, and he needs them. That's all he needs to continue running this country.

My jaw dropped.

There they were. A primetime CNN news host and his two guests laughing and nodding and agreeing that President Obama’s efforts to communicate directly with the American people were trolling for “dumb fish”. And don’t forget that people that watch Jay Leno “don’t know” and that President Obama needs to neglect his children in order to really work.

And just when I was ready to chalk that whole episode of Lou Dobbs off to things that stupid white men say when they get together, the moment was virtually recreated during tonight’s episode of MSNBC’s 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue with David Shuster.

During his roundtable segment David and his two guests discussed the President’s choice not to limit media questions to the established mainstream media outlets during his recent press conference. During that segment one of the guests, whose name I can’t remember because I’m really not a journalist, stated that the mainstream media outlets have paid for their access so the President should have called on them. After which someone implied that since the President may need them, the mainstream media, in the future to sell his plans shouldn’t he give them deferential treatment. I am paraphrasing, of course.

Is this the same media who fed the America public endless bits of minutia about the exploits of Michael Jackson, Anna Nicole Smith, Britney Spears, Paris Hilton and Lindsey Lohan. Are they so convinced that their efforts to dumb down the American public were successful? Or are corporately owned media conglomerates upset by the fact the public remembers that it was sold a bill of goods on the Iraq war and no longer wants to just settle for spin.

When did the world get so small that paid journalists resent the public’s access to their elected officials. God help me, I don’t want to start like sounding like Sarah Palin but something is really wrong when the paid media starts believing that their paycheck means that they have been bestowed the Divine right of access to government and that they are the only ones intelligent enough to interpret current events for the ignorant masses.

Maybe I’m just too naive or too old school but what happened to the idea of the media asking government the questions that the public would ask if they had the same degree of access. I thought that the world was big enough to accommodate main stream media outlets, the blogosphere, social media and the vast array of websites dedicated to government transparency. Silly me I thought that the diversity in voices would be good for democracy.

Yes, the public will probably ask a few truly dumb questions. But I dare anyone to tell me that they haven’t heard a few stupid questions at White House press conferences.

I’m still big fans of many mainstream media outlets and will continue to watch, read and support them. But I will not support a media that continues to try to dumb me down.

Of course, I don’t have the right to write this post because as a college graduate with a degree in communications and years of career experience in management, marketing and IT, I am just to dumb to pose an intelligent question.

Give me a break.

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