Friday, June 16, 2006

"Checkbook Journalism"

Does the fact that CNN may have/probably did pay for an interview with Angelina Jolie via some charity bother you? I suppose I should be bothered more, but I'm not. Mostly because this kind of transaction just seems to make the covert overt. I guess that would be a cynical view, wouldn't it? But it has been a long time since I've viewed the media through starry eyes.

This week while taking the extended fam to NASA for a tour, the concept of how much things have changed media-wise in the last ten years hit me. Spectacular images and video clips of the moon, the universe and earth and rockets and shuttles and sky labs and international cooperation sparked the imagination. The music soared right along with the lofty ideals being presented. And then, the Challenger Shuttle moment in history came to the screen.

BOOM! The Shuttle exploded. Everyone, the engineers at NASA, the people in the stands watching the take-off, and the people sitting in the audience on Monday in the year 2006 sat in stunned silence. My nephew who is 2 1/2 said, "Uh oh." An inset window flashed reactions of people at that time. Walter Cronkite put his hand to his mouth, speechless, a tear in his eye.

And you know what I thought? I thought: Today, we'd hear absolutely obnoxious "insights" from Anchorettes and Anchors saying things like, "I wonder how the Shuttle crash will affect President Bush's legacy? Safety has been an issue for quite some time now at NASA. The latest poll blames the President for the crash. His approval rating is at a historic low. I wonder if America will stop its space program?"

Not that I pine away for Cronkite. I don't. I pine away for a day when people viewed themselves as Americans FIRST and their political affiliation came a distant second. Not today, though. There is no doubt where our media stands politically. It is against the President, for sure. Against anyone who doesn't hold the proper view.

What's the "proper view?" War is bad. America is Imperial and bad. Corporations are greedy and bad. Global warming, environmental change and the loss of species is America's fault. Capitalism is bad. Christianity is bad. Rich people are bad. Marriage is bad--unless it's gay marriage. Abortion is good. Diversity is good. Poor people are good. Criminals are good and wrongly accused. Two categories: good or bad. And more people in America are bad than good, therefore America is bad.

I pine away for Rosie the Riveter. I pine away for John Wayne. I pine away for heart-pounding, unabashedly patriotic rhetoric. I pine away for the average family to be honored not vilified. I pine away for Chevrolet commercials that go: Baseball, hotdogs, Apple Pie and Chevrolet.

Are those days over?

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