karl rove and plato

I am not a journalist, so I don’t understand what their exact mandate as a profession is; although common sense tells me it should probably embody certain characteristics.  What then, if anything, is wrong with modern journalism?  To my mind, they should at least tell the truth.  But what is the truth?  I suppose the truth is what is factually determined drawing on several independent sources of reliable information.

Watching a parody of Sarah Palin’s interview with Charlie Gibson, Gibson challenges her factual errors about a particular issue.  Her reply is something like ‘But Charlie, do the American people really care about facts?  I think not.’  Despite the satirical context, I believe this is a true statement.  Satire mirrors our reality.  In Canada, the media functions in much the same way although it could be argued that facts are vetted more than down south, but only by contrast.  In the U.S., media and journalism seem more about ostentatious statements of belief than factual reality.  And not even editorial interpretations of issues, which are of course fine.  Everyone has opinions.  Opinions, however, should at least be informed by facts, no?

Watching CNN, if you must, will lead you to the impression that debate reflects ideology and nothing more.  This isn’t remotely new or shocking, but what is the purpose of media journalism if not to verify the factual veracity of statements made by actors in a debate?  Should journalists not be required to give context that facilitates understanding of issues?  Inventing context is not the same as reporting context.  Since there is a lot of nonsense out there presented as journalism, can we presume that the purpose of modern journalism is something other than to rationally inform?  Well, yes. There is no need to speculate why.  There is no attempt to hide the real motives.  It is simply to entertain and sell products for consumers to consume.  Witness infotainments’ age of ascent.

As news corporations get larger and continue consolidating, it’s simply harder to acquire information not tethered to the business interests they represent.  The state of journalism is aptly characterized in the Bizarro cartoon depicting Karl Rove casually speaking to Plato.  In it, Rove asks  ‘But surely you agree that truth can be created by the repetition of a lie’.  I imagine Plato suspending his answer in favour of a question: ‘But Karl, why would you and your friends choose to be liars?’

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