Understanding The Media: Why You Are Far More Alike Than You Believe
When I began this blog a year and a half ago, I wanted to shy away from politics as much as I possibly could. Of course, there are some digs in several of my columns when I can get away with it. Because of something that happened recently, I want to dive into the world of politics and more specifically the media and how it operates. Before I go any further, the idea of this is not to offend people, but to simply educate you on a system that you have fallen for.
Last week, someone I know from high school shared a post about a muslim man named Raheel Sidiqqui, a Marine who allegedly committed suicide. An investigation is taking place and potentially 20 marines could face charges because that may not have been the case.
I decided to break my rule of not engaging in debate on Facebook. Some of the comments made were pretty volatile. I wanted to dig a little deeper and find out why.
One person commented, “This is the most ridiculously written article. It’s like they only got info from people that either couldn’t hack it or were shitbags that didn’t fit in.”
There were others who shared his sentiment about the marines and why they are better than everyone else.
That same person went on to quote one of the great military movies A Few Good Men.
“One of the best scenes in a movie (a few good men) to ever be written comes to mind…
‘Son we live in a world that has walls, and those have to be guarded by men with guns. Whose gonna do it you, you lieutenant Weinberg? I have a greater responsibility than you can possibly fathom. You weep for Santiago, and you curse the Marines. You have that luxury, you have the luxury of not knowing what I know, that Santiago’s death while tragic, probably saved lives. And my existence while grotesque and incomprehensible, to you, saves lives. You don’t want the truth because deep down in places you talk about parties; you want me on that wall, you need me on that wall! We use words like honor, code, loyalty, We use these words as the backbone of a life spent defending something, you use them as a punch line. I have neither the time,or the inclination, to explain myself to a man, who rises and sleep under the blanket of the very freedom that I provide, and then questions the manner, in which I provide it. I’d rather you just say ‘thank you’ and go on your way. Otherwise I suggest you pick up a weapon, and stand a post. Either way, I don’t give a damn, what you think you are entitled to!”
My response to this person was…
“Why is it ridiculous? It’s telling the story of someone who joined the military because he felt lost and felt like he had to. I didn’t do so well in high school and wasn’t sure if I was going to get into a college so I thought about the military. Luckily I didn’t join because I can tell you right now, I couldn’t do it. I don’t think that makes me any less of a man. Based on a lot of these comments in this thread, it seems as though people in the marines feel that way about the people who can’t ‘hack it.”
I went on to say…
“What this article can do is basically deter people who aren’t fit for it away from making a rash decision because they feel they don’t have another option. So I wouldn’t get so offended by it.”
The response I received was as follows…
“Most of these annotated accounts and feelings by said Marines in the article are made by those that have no regret in shunning their own branch. There’s only a couple types of men that would do that to their own branch. The whole article is written in a biased tone that is trying to reach the current political correctness of this day and age as well as appeal to the hearts and minds of the Mothers of America. Painting a picture saying things like… something wasn’t right when he called, it didn’t sound like my son. Well that’s just part of being scared to not make one single wrong move. Anyone who reads this article that is not a Marine or has not survived recruit training… has no way of deciphering what is truth, what is possible and what is bullshit. There is no doubt that some wrong doing has occurred and will occur. And the Marine Corps does everything that they can to prevent it from happening. But here’s the thing about 90% of hazing claims… they are made by those that joined expecting it to be a walk in the park. Those that joined to keep from going to jail. Those that couldn’t follow simple instructions. Those that got their feelings hurt by “verbal taunts and harassment.” There are endless hours of pain and suffering in boot camp that are EASILY avoidable if you just shut your mouth and do what you’re told. The Marine Corps produces men and every other branch knows it. And unfortunately there is a large percentage of recruits that get pushed through boot camp or slip through the cracks and never get instilled the proper mindset for what kind of brotherhood we are. It’s articles like this that keep transforming the USMC into the “New Corps”. It won’t be long till statues and monuments are torn up and streets are renamed on Parris Island and other bases because they offend someone. This article is not deterring anyone, it is actually changing the way the Marine Corps has been doing things for decades and will eventually turn it into a branch that anyone can successfully join the ranks of. If an article like this “deters” you from joining, then I say good, you obviously were not made to receive an EGA.”
And then I proceeded to RKO this dude…
“These were also comments by the parents, not something the person on the byline pulled out of thin air. This article didn’t deter me personally from joining, I made that decision on my own. When comments like “you were obviously not made to receive an EGA” are made, that’s fine by me fam. I don’t need an eagle, globe and anchor to use as a punchline and validate my toughness or character. Which ironically enough is something Colonel Jessup said not to do in the movie you just quoted.”
The reason I am sharing this story is not to bash the marines or the military because that is neither here nor there. I am here to bash our society as a whole and the way we view the content stemming from the media. I have thought about writing this for quite some time, but this was the straw that broke the camel’s back.
I don’t care if you are Democrat or Republican. If you lean left, I am not here to call you a snowflake. If you lean right, I am not here to call you a bigot. Those are two words that commonly get thrown around when discussing politics and those two sides of the spectrum. I also hate the fact that the words “conservative” and “liberal” are used as insults to describe one another. So if someone has a different viewpoint, they should be insulted for it? Seems silly to me.
Before I dive into all the details regarding the media coverage and why I am frustrated, I want everyone to realize this about the mainstream. This means CNN, MSNBC or FOX. All of those media outlets have a political agenda they follow in almost all of their coverage.
So if you are going to follow just one media outlet or follow talking heads that cater to what you believe, understand that all you’re doing is engaging in self-serving bias. You will never grow as a person because you will never be able to think on a critical level. You will literally regurgitate what you hear from Bill Maher, Bill O’Reilly or Tomi Lahren. That my friend is part of the disease consumers are suffering from.
And No. I am not going to sit here and call any of these outlets “Fake News” like the president. They are not fake news. It is very real news. It just happens to have an angle to it. If I need to define what an angle is, it is looking at a story from a certain of point of view. They will take facts and information of a situation and put a spin on it.
An example of this is when right leaning sources like Fox talk about how more white folks are killed by police than black folks while ignoring that whites make up a much higher percentage of the population.
Another example is when left leaning sources like CNN talk about how women make $0.78 for every dollar a man makes. While that statistic may be true, men also statistically work longer hours, are more willing to travel for jobs, do manual labor along with other inconveniences that demand higher pay scales. It ignores that many women pursue jobs like education and nursing.
A great example of the equal pay debate in the sports world was when the Women’s US National Soccer Team complained that they want as much as men. The men make what they do because they have more viewers and more revenue, which means a higher payout. The payout for the men’s last World Cup was $576 million compared to the women’s $15 million.
Sometimes those spins can be spot on, but it is important for you as a consumer to look at both sides and THINK FOR YOURSELF and DO THE RESEARCH!
One of the things I love about my parents is they taught me to think for myself politically and religiously. I love that about me (sorry if that is arrogant) because I believe it allows to look at things a little more objectively than most. It also makes me want to fact check anything before I take it at face value.
For the record, I tend to lean more left than I do right. However, I know it is complete bullshit when the left plays up the narrative that the racial tension in this country is worse than it has ever been. Last time I checked, I can go have lunch with my black friends without consequences. I can even share the same water fountain and ride the same bus. You couldn’t do that just a few decades ago.
Just like I know it is complete bullshit when the right says our military is weak because of the Obama Administration. First off, the US spends more money on defense (even with the cuts) than the next eight countries combined. Aside from the battle fought on the Aleutian Islands (now Alaska) during World War II, you don’t see any wars on American soil. Why do you think it would be that way if the military was so weak? So until ET shows up at my back door in a UFO, I am not too concerned.
What is News?
News can be classified as almost anything. It can include politics, sports, crime, people, events and more. It can serve a purpose of informing you about a topic. News can even entertain you. The news can serve up another viewpoint for you through opinions. It is such an open ended question on what news is now.
There is a misconception that news should only be informative and “hard hitting.” I dare you to look on any major network or even a local network social media page. Find a story about Mary the baker who has spent her life serving a community and there will be one asshole commenting that it must have been a slow news day at the office.
The human interest pieces are sometimes the best ones. One of my favorite stories I wrote before retiring (being fired) was about a dog who tore his ACL. I had no idea dogs even had ACLs. That was actually one of the more popular stories I wrote. Another popular story I wrote was about a couple who did in vitro fertilization out of desperation to have a child. That was my most viewed story in the six months at the paper.
Obviously hard news is important because it can serve as a watchdog to some degree, but not every single piece produced is going to fall in the that category. Thats brings me to my next point…
24/7 News Coverage
We are so fortunate to live in a time where more information is put out there every single second of every single day. Know why we see more fluff? Gee, I don’t know. Maybe it has to do wit the fact that companies produce content at such a fast pace. We are no longer in an era of weekly broadcasts or papers. We are not even talking about daily broadcasts or papers. We don’t have paper boys screaming “extra extra!” on street corners. We now have new content in a matter of seconds. Something breaks, there are reporters rushing to the scene in minutes. Unfortunately, this can create wrong information because people are rushing to get it first instead of getting it right.
So yes, some of this content is going to be deemed not important. If you want the “important” stuff, try looking for it. It takes all of 10 seconds. You’re probably reading this from a smart phone. Use that little device that opens up a world of information to your advantage. Although it is not reported on as heavily, I constantly check updates on what is happening in North Korea.
As a result of the 24/7 coverage and constant breaking news updates, this is the world we live in…
News companies make money from advertisers. You can’t have advertisers without clicks and viewers. No one is going to put thousands of dollars into ad space for a company that can’t draw traffic.
Know what the biggest selling point in today’s society is? Controversy and Fear. If you don’t believe me, we will take a look at the last couple of years what some of the biggest stories or fads were.
Love him or hate him, I think most of us can agree on how he made it into the oval office. He used inflammatory language that caused controversy such as the wall. This created dialogue about him. This is a classic case of “no such thing as bad press.” Regardless of which side of the wall you lean (see what I did there?), it created a hotbed for talking heads. His dialogue was exactly what the Republicans needed to thrust themselves back into the White House.
Possibly the biggest selling point in the US right now is racism. We constantly hear the noise of how the police are out to get black folks or how black folks need to not act like morons. Every major case of police or neighborhood watchmen shooting an unarmed black man from Michael Brown to Freddie Gray to Trayvon Martin have one thing in common. People drew conclusions before all the facts were released. This includes the media and general population. On one hand, you have the right who are saying those men put themselves in that situation. They ignored in the Martin case that Zimmerman was told to back off. On the other hand, you have the left who are screaming injustice because these men weren’t armed. They posted outdated pictures of Martin saying what a sweet boy he was. A large portion of people jumped on a side before all the facts were released. That is fine. But if new information comes out, don’t ignore it because you want a story to fit your narrative. That, my friend, is called ignorance.
I can’t speak how it was before September 11, 2001. I was very young when that happened. I know how ridiculed muslims have been since the attacks. In a country that preaches freedom of religion, we sure are terrified of anyone who practices Islam. Just like all religions, there are violent extremists who take the teachings out of context. Since 9/11, we hear how they are out to get Americans. Meanwhile, people ignore the fact that non-muslims are more likely to carry out terrorist attacks in the US. Ironically enough, five of the last 12 Nobel Peace Prize winners were Muslim.
Before June 2015 when gay marriage was legalized in all 50 states, this was the major topic for discussion sweeping the nation. Now that same-sex marriage is legal, the new topic of discussion is gender. A law was just passed in California that people can actually choose their gender. This is causing controversy because a small percentage of people are classified as non-binary, meaning they can essentially be both. As this develops more, we will see more controversy much like the Target bathroom rule. The law passed does not force people to provide any sort of medical proof that they are in fact non-binary. Maybe gender isn’t the right word and if that’s what people are fighting over, find something else to argue about. You have a sex. You are either male or female. That is encoded in your chromosomes. Biologically, that cannot be argued. If you feel you are the wrong sex, that is ok! There are operations to help. There is nothing wrong with that. But I am not comfortable with a grown person with a penis walking into a bathroom with my wife. Sorry.
The problem right now with the media and it’s viewers is there does not appear to be an end game. Everyone will continue to bicker about the things they feel are important. Once it comes full circle and they feel they won. We just move on to the next issue. I thought it was a win when gay marriage was legalized and I still do. However, now we have the whole gender issue. Apparently, science isn’t enough in determining gender.
With the racial tension, we are always going to have people choose sides before finding out the facts. That will last until the country finds their next big issue to gripe about. We will continue to hear about the white man holding blacks down while simultaneously ignoring the fact of broken education systems and leadership.
Think For Yourself and Think Critically
While you’re reading this, you probably think I hate the media. The reality is I don’t. I used to work in the media and I know how difficult the job is. How do you tell your boss no when you get picked to go take picture’s at a 15-year-old kid’s funeral who was shot to death by police? Morally, I felt dirty. But, that was my meal ticket and part of my job. Ultimately, it is a big reason I have never returned. It is not an easy job by any stretch of the imagination. You constantly fight yourself on whether or not what you are doing makes a difference. Chances are, it probably doesn’t.
If there is one thing I have learned in my short time on this planet, black and white does not exist when discussing politics or religion. It is all shades of gray.
As someone who leans left, I still read Fox News just as much as left wing sources whether I agree or disagree. I like hearing different perspectives. It is my job as a consumer to figure out when a story is off-base or spot on. No matter where the story comes from (right or left), I can call a spade a spade when I see a poorly annotated account of an issue.
It is perfectly fine to have an opinion, but make sure you have a solid foundation for why you hold that opinion.
Don’t bash the people producing the content. If it isn’t an opinion column, the work is backed by quotes from sources that gave the reporter that story. I can assure you when I covered local government, I quoted those people and they were probably feeding me lines of shit. I just didn’t care to dig for the truth.
Going back to the original point of writing this column…
The story about that man in the military provided a detailed account from the parents and loved ones of that person. That doesn’t make the article poor or biased, it is simply providing another element to the discussion.
If that perspective can’t even be heard without backlash, than what makes you any better than the communist country that wants all of their media coverage to spew the same angle that is North Korea? I got REAL NEWS for you, it doesn’t.