Justice in the Media

There is a  growing Moral Vacuum in the US . It is about  institutional interests that are able to shape and transcend Justice first internally and then in the broader public realm. Institution’s ability to  delay and outwit Justice is an eternal gambit; however the stakes have become ever greater for 3 reasons:
1)Because the players being enmeshed in extralegal affair are a)more often in the public realm rather than in the private or self-policing domain and b)with SCOTUS allowing unlimited lobbying and camapign financing the players have become much higher placed including state legislaters, governors, Congressmen and even the President and his protective Executive Office;
2)the slack time in the system  to produce effective decisions of governance have become shorter while the time and resources to reach judiicial  decisions have become more tortured. But the two are greatly entwined and both suffer the consequences of increased disparity of decision times;
3)the Web and its official and “unofficial” observers/revealers have become ever more pervasive  but also ever grayer. The official media have become increasingly captured by various institutional interests[diid the Sports networks slack off on reporting the jerry Sandusky case or moderate their calls for institutional Justice]; while the unofficial sources are able exploit rumor-mongering  and other manipulative practices with greater impunity since there is such a deluge of online and 300 channel radio and TV sources of “information”.

Managing the News

Which brings us to  Justice in the Media [think radio, TV and a growing number of Infotainment websites from Huffington Post to theDailyBeast]. The Media metes out Justice on one standard –  how they get paid, = their ratings. If you can get the ratings without offending too many or costing too much – anything goes. There used to be an exception – the News Media. But increasingly that is not so as a)the TV networks dominance of the media gets diluted by a live online entrants and b)more entrants into the TV markets. So the evening TV News has morphed into Infotainment as devoted news networks like CNN, Fox News, and  MSNBC  fill in the gap.

But the problem is that devoted News Networks do not adhere to the same standards that TV and radio News networks have had to because of FCC rules. The three biggest deficiencies in News reporting are:
1)there is less time for new reporting  where journalistic standards of verifiable sourcing  are required. TV evening news is down to less than 20 minutes while the All News Networks are devoting ever more time to analysis and opinion segments ;
2)those “opinion” segments allow much more relaxed info broadcasts where the journalistic  standards for verifiable sources plus  balanced /unbiased reporting are largely ignored and the message is tailored for the audience. Witness the number of times that MSNBC and FOX News are cited  for false statements and biased report at MediaMatters.org and factCheck.org;
3)the news stories also have an infotainment or scandal  bias while all media have missed such huge breaking stories as the above screenshot, the  LIBOR  Scandal has lacked coverage commensurate with its importance.

David Frum has dealt with this in his story on How Lies Spread showing the manipulative methods used by Fox News to get their biased and inaccurate story demonizing once again the Obama administration with the notion that  drones are used to monitor farmers and ranchers. News has become highly partisan and politicized. See here  Factcheck.org which  has to make dozens of corrections each quarter  of email attack campaigns or online news stories that are patently false.

Yet despite these repeated media missteps, particularly by the usual suspects, there is virtually no media Self Regulation. Libel laws are not much help as again the perpetrators hide behind a)often much later retractions , b) the fact that these are “opinion” pieces not news reporting or analysis, and 3)1st amendment’s freedom of Speech  allows a great deal of leeway in what can be said before libel or defamation of character can be invoked. And any attempts to impose FCC-like verifable source and unbiased reporting standard simply ineffective.

So once again here is  another example of a  Moral Vacuum on Justice in America. There is a media-based  institutional failure to self regulate and to elude  defiantly standards of good and unbiased reporting. There is solace to some  – John Stewart and Stephen Colbert have made a fortune  on their comedy shows mocking the preposterous prevarications of Fox news and others. Small solace indeed.

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