Donald Trump’s First One Hundred Days in office and the White House Correspondents’ Dinner exemplify how obsessed professional news outlets have become with inconsequential events that they want to feature. With President Trump refusing to attend the Correspondents' Dinner, the self-deprecating members of the Press core have been unleashed to saturate coverage of the glamorous over-indulgent affair with so much negative propaganda that the significance of the President’s absence will not scar the battered credibility of the Press. As “the Oscars” of celebrity journalists, the Correspondents' Dinner highlights the reality that the processional media outlets is largely an arm of the political industry and dominated by American’s wealthy class, which enriches pundits based on their ability to promote agendas instead of talent and actual contributions to society.
The Correspondents’ Dinner also shows why the Media has increasingly failed to provide the American People the public service it is supposed to provide. When the Media reports on the Oscars and all the A-list celebrities invited to the various celebrations surrounding the affair, it is called “entertainment news,” which is a sanitized way of saying celebrity gossip. When a celebrity is quoted, it peaks the interests of fans and tabloid subscribers, yet it is not considered newsworthy nor is it the work of serious journalists. In fact, the more disreputable publishers of celebrity gossip are called “rags.” When it comes to events like the Correspondents’ Dinner, this same type of coverage is called news. In reality, it is little more than political gossip. Beyond the Correspondents’ Dinner and the President’s First One Hundred Days, professional media outlets are becoming “rags” featuring political gossip and celebrity journalists instead of useful sources of valuable news.
One of the biggest offenses of the Media has been a growing tendency for reporters to simply quote political celebrities in order to call their own opinions news and bolster it with the superficial legitimacy of expert “analysis,” i.e. expert opinion, instead of presenting and defending the work as their own opinion or analysis. What people in positions of influence have to say often matters. Until, and unless, deeds match the words, they are either trying to control the “message” with their own propaganda or speculating. Quite frankly, anyone can regurgitate the propaganda of elected officials and businessman as well as speculate. It takes investigative and analytical skills, as well as resources, to fully research the issues surrounding the propaganda and speculation in order to provide a meaningful news story. Unfortunately, the Media increasingly considers even the most trivial of things important people say to to be “facts” on par with major world events.
When the Press reports on events, the newsworthiness question on how relevant the information is to the audience of the publication. Although relevance is difficult to assess, and highly dependent on what the highly subjective industry heads feel their audiences need to know, the cost of covering a particular news piece, which opinion are nearly free, and what is likely to attract the most readers have taken priority. The preference for low-cost, high-profit news has, in turn, created an over-dependence on opinion and alleged analysis derived from quoting political celebrities. Commentary on, versus from within, the political industry, and analysis are helpful and useful when they provide helpful insights. Commentary and analysis, in addition to investigative reporting, is how the Press provides a check on the political and other industries. It is the political gossip from so-called experts who have few actual insights to offer that is the problem.
The personalities of the news industry have themselves become political celebrities. This is no more evident than at Fox news where their starring pundits, including Bill O’Reilly, have found themselves embroiled in scandal. It is what happens when entertainers are bathed in wealth and told they are unquestionable, unaccountable experts in everything who must spread the ideology of their benefactors to the world. It is what happens when the Media creates celebrity journalists instead of cultivating the minds of journalists who provide informative research in the form of investigative reporting, solution-driven analysis, and thought-provoking commentary. Political gossip may be a moneymaker, but it has little value. Like all things that serve no real need, the professional gossip industry will suffer the same fate as all entertainment fades once people find more interesting things to focus on. Just as the commentary surrounding Trump’s handling of the North Korean nuclear threat is encouraging leadership to embrace a provocative message and escalating the decades-long threat, political gossip will continue to contribute to the degenerative ways of the political industry until constructive, meaningful journalism is rewarded.
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