How accurate and reliable is the information the general media presents to people every day, especially concerning important political events? Specifically, how do we know the truth of what goes on in the Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. As a citizen of the United States, I value my presupposed right to be entitled the truth on important matters regarding the wellbeing of the country, and I expect that the information I receive on the Wars that Americans pay for with tax money be as objective, truthful and realistic as possible. I recently read “The Braindead Microphone,” by essayist George Saunders. He states today’s news is often a mixture of facts, fairy tales and fictitious arguments, using an analogy of a person with a giant microphone to illustrate how modern news corporations, with their vast wealth, size, and networks influence the way people perceive and understand contemporary events. Modern media makes use of flashy presentation and theatrics to grasp the viewer’s attention, then manipulates the presentation of facts to create the most fascinating story possible to increase viewership, giving audiences a tainted and bias account of what should be objective reporting. Specifically, Saunders argues the way the 2003 Invasion of Iraq- or Operation Iraqi Freedom, if you will- was retold by news corporations to the public, giving people an image of the situation that forewent reality and opted for interesting, but not necessarily credible, stories, to not only increase interest in the war, but to influence viewers to side with or against the war, depending on how the higher ups at the news corporations wanted to sway the public. I believe this issue resonates with the Dirty Hands problem. Do the news corporations distort information for the betterment of the people- so that it is more accessible to a larger group of people, and that we are entertained by it? Perhaps without the gloss, news would be tediously boring and as a result significantly less people would watch and or care. A simple presentation of the facts could fail to pull at our emotions and fail to provoke a sense of caring or concern. Does the end justify the meanings of what should be a straight forward presentation of facts?
Furthermore, the documentary Outfoxed showcases Fox News as the holder of the metaphorical microphone, who used their power and influence to garner support for the war efforts. Fox News is known for being the voice of political conservatives-which calls into question the state of today’s news coverage. By defining a news source with a particular political philosophy it essentially says the way the news is presented is biased. Fox News, in the documentary, is portrayed as giving evidence and reports in the news which mislead the general public, making empty claims and erroneous arguments to convince and bias viewers into support a war which many people had little tangible information about. Several scenes show interviews with former and present news reporters and journalists who are employed by Fox, recounting how they were asked, both implicitly and explicitly, to either flat out lie about the then current events or to bend information to overwhelmingly favor one side. Not only is this not objective reporting, but it is entirely unethical conduct, as people look to the news for the truth. Gone are the days when people could turn on the television and look to reporters without even questioning the validity and authenticity of the information being presented.
Perhaps what is more shocking is that, after said reporters sued Fox for unlawful termination of their conducts when they were canned for refusing to lie on camera that the courts upheld Fox’s claim that it is not illegal to lie on a nationally syndicated news program. So now, instead of having reporters filling in people on the facts, it has become commonplace for news corporations to hire “experts” in whatever fields being discussed to explain the topics at hand. What is not discussed, however, is that these experts have their own agenda and are paid by Fox, CBS, ABC or whoever is hiring them to present an already biased account which is in line with the ideas and thoughts of the viewers- giving the audience what they want to hear. News is now a commodity. But is this a bad thing? Certain networks carter to certain political or social philosophies and agendas. To present news, especially when it is about the Wars in the Middle East, without a central viewpoint would dehumanize the events being portrayed. Additionally, by giving news from a particular vantage point, we can gain insight into the implications of these events and the backgrounds of what caused them. However, the news is still warped, even if it benefits. So, the question is, should news simply be objective and formulaic, or should it be presented in ways which increase viewership, entertain its audience, and insight passion and concern?