Saturday, October 15, 2016

Is American Journalism Capitalism's Greatest Failure?

Capitalism, like science, does not ensure good results. In fact, most ventures in free enterprise result in failure. But characteristic of both capitalism and science is the mechanism of self-correction. Free enterprise is free inquiry with poker chips.

Before I made a policy of minimizing conversation with Obama Zombies I used to point out to the brain dead that America's most viable industries--high tech and entertainment--just happen to be the least regulated sectors of the economy. Had we continued to practise dog eat dog capitalism in other industries, we might lead the world there, as well. In other words, Detroit would still be Detroit.

Where my ideas hit a roadblock, is when they collide with the news industry. On the surface, journalism should be a viable trade, sympathetic to consumer demand, specifically the consumer hungry for truth. It is still a largely unregulated field and it rewards its workers handsomely. Even the minnows make seven-figure salaries. I don't think Don Lemon will transition to diesel mechanic anytime soon.

The one obstacle that traditionally worked against journalism is the steep barrier of entry that plagued TV, radio and newspapers. Oligarchies naturally ensued. Cable television and the Internet should have leveled the playing field. Still, the dinosaur media migrated to cyberland with all of their many shortcomings. The MSM are as fundamentally dishonest as ever.

One would think that journalism would mirror entertainment television and produce a lot of crap but redeem itself with things like "Breaking Bad", "Mad Men" and "The Americans". Even Hollywood Leftists can overcome their silliness to produce greatness. Not so, American journalism.

Let me remind you that this commentary is prompted by the recent full court assault on Donald Trump's character. Briefly, this orchestrated scandal does not pass the smell test. Has anyone noticed that we live in a litigious society? Did you know Donald Trump has deep pockets? How can anyone stay in the public spotlight for the better part of four decades, grab and grope with abandon and never once get sued? Contrast this with Bill Clinton and Bill Cosby whose lawyers have been doing damage control going back to the last century. Add Gloria Allred to the mix and the remaining credibility blows out the window.

I was not a Donald Trump fan. I never saw "The Apprentice" and I saw maybe 20 minutes of "Celebrity Apprentice". Viscerally, I did not like him. As a presidential candidate, he might have been my fifth choice. Over time, I have come to admire Trump for his tenacity. I have never seen a fighter with so much heart. Now, Trump is taking on the corrupt and chronically dishonest news media. All of them! Finally! Finally, we have a public figure who does not bow down to these demons! Anyone who fights the corrupt media, fights for us!

Let me contain my enthusiasm to return to the failure of American journalism. The press, as it used to be called, is the only institution with a lower approval rating than Congress. It can't get much worse but it has not started to rebound either. This article from The Washington Examiner compares the trust factor of the press against other information outlets. Only 12% of the US trusts Facebook as a source but that number is twice as high as their trust in "the media."

The American Press Institute is the source of the 6% figure, I had never heard of this group until today but I can tell you that they are highly critical of their own profession.

The news media is still a force to be reckoned with. They determined the last two presidential elections and have provided ongoing support to the Obama agenda. They have, however, done these things at a cost. That cost is diminished credibility. Do they still have the clout to decide a presidential election? That is the pivotal question of 2016.

Here are a couple of things to consider about the MSM's viability.

1. Despite wall to wall Trump-bashing, Rasmussen still has him in the lead over Hillary, 43 to 41.

2. Google trends for Wikileaks greatly exceeds interest in Trump allegations.

For all of the money, the competition, and the hunger for truth, why has American journalism failed so grandly? Maybe capitalism isn't the magic bullet after all. Maybe it is all a matter of hubris. When overpaid readers come to believe that it is their job to decide elections rather to inform the public, no economic system ever devised can save the institution.

We have a lot of time to ask how it all went wrong. For now, I repose the question: Is American Journalism Capitalism's Greatest Failure?

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