Dear People, the popularization of the words “fake news” should be incredibly disturbing as discrediting the media is how dictators are born but that is an entirely different discussion.
I want to help everyone realize that the state of the media we are in dates back to 1928 but has its key moment in 1987 under Ronald Reagan.
Have you heard of the Fairness Doctrine? It is why those of my generation remember the news of our childhood so differently.
Let me allow Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. to explain:
“The devolution of the American press began in 1986 when Ronald Reagan abolished the Fairness Doctrine.
We had a law in this country that we passed in 1928 that said that the air waves belong to the public. The broadcasters can be licensed to use them, but only if they use them to promote the public interest, to inform the public and advance democracy. That’s why we have the 6 o’clock news. They didn’t want it. The broadcasters didn’t want that because the news departments were chronic money losers.
But they were forced to put on the news at 6:00 and even today you hear news on the music radio stations and that’s an artifact of the Fairness Doctrine. They said, if you’re using the broadcast air waves, you have to do that…
They no longer have an obligation to serve the public interest. Their only obligation is to their shareholders. They serve that obligation not by informing us, telling us the things we need to understand to make rational decisions in a democracy, but rather by entertaining us…
We know we’re the best entertained, the least informed, people on the face of the world. They got rid of their investigative reporters. 85 percent of them lost their jobs in the last 15 years.
They got rid of their foreign news bureaus so the Bush and Cheney administration can say to the American people, ‘Oh, we’re gonna go into this 800-year-old fist fight in Mesopotamia and they’re gonna meet us with rose petals in the streets’ and the Americans believe them.
The Canadians didn’t believe them because the Canadians still have a Fairness Doctrine…
England has the same kind of rules and in Europe, but in our country, we lost those rules and, as a result, we know a lot about Britney Spears’ gradual emotional decline and we know a lot about Charlie Sheen, but we don’t know much about global warming or the fact that the Appalachian Mountains essentially no longer exist.”
The elimination of the Fairness Doctrine in 1987 set the stage for today’s fake news dilemma and is attributed with contributing to the polarized politic party situation we have with Congress and the American people.
“The Fairness Doctrine had two basic elements: It required broadcasters to devote some of their airtime to discussing controversial matters of public interest, and to air contrasting views regarding those matters. Stations were given wide latitude as to how to provide contrasting views: It could be done through news segments, public affairs shows, or editorials. The doctrine did not require equal time for opposing views but required that contrasting viewpoints be presented. The demise of this FCC rule has been considered by some to be a contributing factor for the rising level of party polarization in the United States.”
We are in this mess as a failing of the media because President Reagan removed the obligation of the press to serve the American people to focus on serving their corporations.