On Tuesday, The President of the United States sat down with three YouTubers for post State of The Union Speech Interviews. For all the conservative pundits out there who are decrying how such a stunt diminishes the office, I say relax. Barry’s done much more damaging things to the prestige of the presidency in the six plus years he has occupied said office.
And for those worried about the health of the Fourth Estate, let me assure you that despite the best efforts of individual journalists, the news media is, and always has been more about the money than about the truth.
I learned about what really drives the news as a young reporter at a radio station in Central Texas. I did the afternoon drive shift and was tasked with loading my newscasts with as many local stories as possible. One afternoon I reported on the arrest of a young man who was caught in the act of burglarizing a gas station. Shortly thereafter I got a call from the station manager. He ordered me to kill the story. It seems the boy’s daddy bought airtime on the station and he was upset that we covered the story of his son’s arrest.
Fairly fresh from a Media Law & Ethics course from the Graduate School of Journalism at UT, I launched into a screed about how we couldn’t kill the story, how the people had a right to know the truth . . . and just as I was about to invoke the sacred name of Edward R. Murrow, the station manager interrupted me with a bulletin. The business of the radio station was to sell air time. I could either kill the story as told or find work elsewhere. It was a harsh lesson but I’m a quick learner. Lots of other reporters have learned this bitter lesson as well. News media that is supported by ad revenues will always cave to the pressure of their advertisers. Why do you think that negative stories about big tobacco never appeared until the government banned most cigarette advertising?
This situation has grown ever worse ever faster since television surpassed newspapers as the nation’s main source for news. And the last thing that the professional political class is interested in is the dissemination of the truth. For them it’s all spin all the time, and the more journalistic integrity is compromised the better they like it.
That said, you can’t blame the White House for trying this bold new way to reach out to the distracted younger generation. Baby boomers were conditioned to sit and watch what came on TV when it came on. Kids who have grown up with the Internet and DVRs are much harder to reach than the older crowd the Republicans are chasing.
I suppose they figure that since the audiences for Hank Green, Bethany Mota and GlowZell Green have demonstrated an astronomically low threshold for quality infotainment and inane crap, they are excellent prospects for the Democratic Party.