John McCain and Sarah Palin have been complaining that there’s too much “gotcha journalism” going around. If only… When they say “gotcha journalism,” what they’re really trying to do, of course, is to demonize journalism itself — to de-legitimize asking tough questions…
There’s no better way for a lay person to understand the current crisis than by listening to two episodes of This American Life – “The Giant Pool of Money,” which aired last May, and “Another Frightening Show About the Economy,” which aired last weekend. And while you’re at it, check out the “Now You SEC Me, Now You Don’t” segment of This American Life from last month, and the two interviews with former CFTC director Michael Greenberger that Fresh Air host Terry Gross did in April and September.
[Read “Gotcha? You Betcha!” completely…at Huffingtonpost ]
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If mainstream media spent as much time covering the events that produced the economic meltdown as they spent on pop culture and horse-race politics, we might have avoided this financial crisis altogether.
That’s why most Americans didn’t see this mess coming, and why most don’t understand the $700 billion plan that is supposed to rescue us.
We depend on the media to keep us informed, especially when so much of our money is at stake. But we just can’t do that any more. Consider:
- In early 2007, when the story broke about the mortgage crisis at Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the media were busy flooding the airwaves with stories about Anna Nicole Smith’s death and Paris Hilton’s trip to jail.
- In 2008, when SEC Chair Christopher Cox told the Senate Banking Committee that the SEC required no additional funding for oversight of credit rating agencies — the same agencies that determine ratings for mortgages and other loans — the media were cooing over Brad and Angelina’s newborn twins.
I am a proud member of the Free Press Action Fund board, writing with a special request. Please support the Free Press Action Fund to ensure that the media don’t ignore the next big crisis.
Whether it’s fighting for diverse media ownership or against media consolidation, the Free Press Action Fund is engaging in powerful, critically important work to fix the problems that have turned a once-proud news media into a tabloid circus.
Many of us joined Free Press because we were appalled by the massive journalistic failures that helped lead us into the Iraq War. Today, Free Press is working to connect the dots between the current financial crisis and the media’s abject failure to provide sustained, substantive coverage of real issues that have real consequences in our lives.
I recently posted a detailed essay on the Huffington Post about how the media fiddled while Wall Street burned. The entire Free Press team is making that case in other ways, too. That’s why I hope you’ll make a special contribution to the Free Press Action Fund right now.
Your contribution now will help build the media reform movement and fight for media that actually help — not hurt — us.
We need quality media now more than ever before. Let’s fight to make sure media help us spot and overcome national crises, instead of distracting us with celebrities and trivia.
Free Press Action Fund Board Member &
Norman Lear Chair in Entertainment, Media and Society
USC Annenberg School for Communication
P.S. The media’s failings are becoming more and more dangerous to all of us. We need a strong and vigilant media to give us information we can trust, and to conduct the kind of probing reporting that could have foreseen and helped prevent the current economic crisis. That’s what Free Press is fighting for, and it’s exactly what your contribution now will help achieve.