Blaming Talk Radio for
Church Burnings & More Brokaw
Three items today:
1) ABC's Nightline
puts "the violence from talk radio" in a list of what's causing
the black church burnings.
2) The June
MediaNomics features a front page story titled "After Hyping Worker
Anxiety, National Press Ignores Contrary Evidence." An excerpt runs
3) NBC anchor Tom
Brokaw believes people are "getting bored" with talk radio; that
having to endure talk radio is "the price of free speech" which
makes it "all the more important that...the mainstream, traditional
news outlets can hold their own." But "unfiltered" Web
sites are even more dangerous than talk radio.
Nightline on Wednesday night (June 12) examined the burning of black
churches in South Carolina. One segment dealt with the role of the
Confederate flag, but here's how reporter Deborah Amos began her story:
"Why are there so many church burnings in South Carolina? Some people
say it's racism, some, that it's evil, or the violence from talk radio, or
the insecurity over jobs. But many people say it's the flag."
The June issue of MediaNomics, the newsletter of the MRC's Free Market
Project, features a cover story on how the same media which have hyped
stories of worker anxiety ignored a poll showing most workers are happy
and content. The newsletter will mail next week. Here's an excerpt from
the article by Tim Lamer:
Few business and economics
stories capture the imagination of political reporters like this year's
barrage of news about worker anxiety. It's accepted as fact among
reporters that American workers are alarmed about their prospects in the
new, global economy.
But, in fact, are they? While most reporters have relied on carefully
selected anecdotes highlighting worried workers, Inc. magazine
commissioned the Gallup Organization to conduct a nationwide poll. The
survey found that the vast majority of American workers are remarkably
content with their work lives. But no national news outlet has reported on
Inc.'s survey. Perhaps this is because the survey contradicts what
reporters have been saying all year. According to CNN's Kathleen Kennedy,
on the January 3 World News, "The latest rounds of corporate cutbacks
have left many people fearing that they may be the next to be fired."
Wyatt Andrews, on the February 26 CBS Evening News, described "an
increasingly anxious middle class, whose dreams of upward mobility have
met a downward reality."
The New York Times, in a now-famous seven-part series in early March
depicted American workplaces as "battlefields" with
"millions of casualties." According to the Times, the story of a
man who lost a high-paying bank job, was forced to take a job at
one-fourth the pay, and then had his family leave him "is no longer
Not so, reports Inc. "Across the board the 34 questions [to the
worker survey] prompted upbeat -- sometimes even glowing --
responses," the magazine found. For example: 90 percent of the
respondents were not worried about losing their jobs and 75 percent had
not had three or more days in the past month when stress caused them to
behave badly with their families.
The last e-mail featured quotes from Tom Brokaw denying that he has any
liberal bias. He was also asked, during the same Q & A session at the
National Press Club on June 11, about the role of talk radio in the
campaign. Here's his response:
"I think these things all cycle out. I think
that we're probably at about the end of a cycle on talk radio. I think
that people pretty soon get bored with it, and only the gifted will
survive. I think that you'll find that a lot of these acts and a lot of
these towns around the country will began to dry up because it's so Johnny
One Note and it's not very enlightening. Once you get past the shock
value, then it doesn't have much merit anymore, and I don't think except
for the true-blue believers that you're going to get much of an
It's not clear who he's referring to when talking
about hosts emphasizing their "shock value," but he then goes on
to dismiss the credibility of "nationally known names,"
presumably Rush Limbaugh who was included in the Pew Center poll ranking
the credibility of news sources.
Brokaw: "I think the constituencies are
pretty narrow. I saw some polling recently about who has credibility in
terms of communication and information, and the fact is that a lot of
these people who are nationally known names, and have their own radio
shows, are way down at the bottom in single digits. So I don't think that
it's going to have the impact that it might have four years ago or eight
years ago. They can still stir-up an issue from time to time but you know
what, it's the price of free speech. That's who we are in this country and
it just makes it all the more important that people like Jim Lehrer and
Tom Brokaw, and yes Peter and Dan, and Bernie Shaw and Judy Woodruff of
CNN, that we all do our job better, so that the mainstream, traditional
news outlets can hold their own and that we're being responsive on what's
going on and we're telling the truth about what's happening."
But there are things worse than talk radio in
"The country is divided up in a lot of ways.
It's not just talk radio, by the way. If you don't go on the net and look
at the political Web sites, then you're missing something, because that's
an unfiltered access to people out there, and there's some outrageous
stuff that is going out on the internet right now -- claims that are being
made by these special interest groups, all the way across the political
spectrum, from the far left to the far right. Before the internet, there
were newsletters that we didn't see, that we didn't report on, that we
didn't cover. And the newsletters went out to specifically targeted
constituents in this country, and would make all manner of claims that
didn't necessarily hold the truth, but they aroused people and they
titillated people and I think that those are more dangerous, if you will,
to a democracy and to the health of a democracy than talk radio, which is
at least out there in the open."
see a pattern here? If "journalists" don't control the
information flow then it's a dangerous medium.
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