by Ben Cohen
John Stossel is one of the most hilarious ‘journalists’ I’ve had the fortune of watching during my time in America. The sleazy looking ego maniac has made a living by acting as a corporate spokesperson for the oil and insurance industry disguising it as investigative reporting for ABC. Stossel is about as full of shit as they come in the world of corporate media hackery, but has a certain talent that makes him compelling to watch (although anyone with half a brain would probably like to flush his head down the toilet). It appears his fanatical free market views have earned him a gig at Fox News, where he can contribute his views alongside other brilliant minds like Glenn Beck and Sean Hannity. While it makes sense for Fox to continue building its roster of Right Wing loudmouths (it’s incredibly profitable), it does say something more profound about the way media companies are dividing up the talent into two very distinctive camps. Writes Chez Pazienza:
Given his [Stossel’s] tendency to egomaniacally showboat, his departure probably
isn’t much of a loss to ABC. But it does underscore in no uncertain
terms just where the business of journalism is heading: Hume, Beck, now
Stossel — they all skew hard to the right and they’ve all wound up at
Fox. At this point, Fox is the bright light on the porch that attracts
all the insects. The problem is that what we’re witnessing is the
homogenization of the news media. It was admittedly inevitable. With so
many choices out there, narrowcasting was always the future. But the fewer dissenting opinions at each outlet — with Fox
essentially saying, “If you’re a conservative, this is where you
belong” — the viewers, readers, and people simply looking for a
well-balanced vision of the world will suffer.
I think Chez is on to something here. The increasingly partisan model for news journalism essentially defeats the point of having it in the first place. Watching news you agree with doesn’t teach you anything – it just reinforces your world view without challenging you to question your assumptions. While I enjoy watching Keith Olbermann, his show isn’t ‘News’ in the traditional sense. It’s commentary from a Left wing perspective. When Bill O’Reilly performs, he isn’t doing journalism. He’s spouting extreme Right wing rhetoric.
The end game in all this is an exact replicate of the political system – a dysfunctional echo chamber that reflects the needs of the powerful, and drowns out all other voices.
The more the stars filter off into their respective camps, the less likely they are to engage with each other. And while I disagree what Stossel has to say, I’d at least listen to him while he was on ABC. Now he’s on a channel I won’t even flick through, his voice, however stupid, won’t be heard again.
And strangely, I find that quite sad.
Ben Cohen is the editor and founder of The Daily Banter. He lives in Washington DC where he does podcasts, teaches Martial Arts, and tries to be a good father. He would be extremely disturbed if you took him too seriously.