This past week my son and I were discussing the tragedy that is life in this world, and he let me know that he had recently been informed that America is in dire straits and that he needs to keep up with Fox News to understand just how bad things are.
Whenever someone says we need to keep up with Fox News or some other "conservative" media outlet I immediately think of this post from Joe Carter. During his brief time on the Huckabee campaign Joe interacted at length with the mainstream media and says that he generally got a fair shake from the MSM, save the "conservative media."
My gripe isn't so much with Fox as it is with the idea that the news media provides an accurate picture of the world as it is, and this is why I encouraged my son to take what he hears on the news with a grain of salt, or a yawn.
Back in the day, I used to listen to Rush Limbaugh a good deal, and I can remember him describing the purpose of his program and the purpose of callers. The overall purpose of the program was to gain listeners, and thus to gain sponsors, and to make money for the sponsors and the show. The purpose of callers was to make the host look good.
In saying that, I don't mean to imply that Rush doesn't believe what he says on the radio. I believe he is singularly committed to and articulate about his conservative ideology. But the bottom line is ratings, and to insure good ratings, he must first be a good entertainer. This does not mean that an entertainer cannot inform, it just means that you have to be aware of where the priorities lie.
And it's not just Rush, it seems to me that the purpose of any news outlet is to garner ratings, and thus the package often must trump the product. And when it comes to ratings, there is one thing that drives ratings - sensationalism.