In big news, a federal judge dismissed Sarah Palin’s lawsuit against the failing New York Times, claiming that the false allegations made towards her were part and parcel of a free press where anything is allowed to be printed. While this isn’t surprising, I feel that this is almost the final nail in the rotting coffin of mainstream media, and their ability to retain any kind of credibility. We’ve seen a worrying amount of fake news sprout up on mainstream media these days, and the danger of salacious headlines and misinformation can’t be understated. What makes the situation infuriating, is how often outlets like Breitbart are criticized for intentionally causing controversy, despite being part of the “free press”, while massive corporations like the New York Times and Washington Post can utilize the same tactics and get legal and social protection in doing so.
As a kid, I’d always look up to the media as legitimate gatekeepers, setting the tone of information and standards of professionalism. No matter how wild or out of control the populace has been, the press in my head has always had the job of keeping the message of truth and progress firmly set in the narrative. Now though, any illusion of that is shattered, and you can see how far gone any faith in the media has been lost. Having a federal judge defend mistakes and slander to this degree is only going to accelerate and enable this behavior. At no point should the press be punished or imprisoned for their actions, but there does need to be a strong market and social repercussion for taking the actions they have been.
Notice now how often the race card is thrown around, how often the bigot card is used, and how often the press is used to destroy somebody’s reputation these days. The reason the press exists is to share information that the general populace needs and wouldn’t be able to gather otherwise. The phrase journalism school typically uses is that journalists are the scouts that go over the hill, coming back to tell their tribe what has happened. Even in the world of social media and constant internet access, this role is still vital, and I would argue it is done more on a personal basis. Just look at the recent coverage of Hurricane Harvey, or the local Twitter of every city that suffers a terror attack. Social media acts as a constant stream of real and personal information that allows people to stay safe and updated in vital situations. Look at the mainstream media during the same events, and they only spread misinformation and politicize events in order to add to their propaganda and spin machines. While the press does need the freedom to criticize public figures and share information that is vital to the public, for too long the media has used these powers for evil and financial gain, instead of good and the betterment of man. News still has a place in the modern world, but I’m not sure in the old titans of mainstream media have any right to be the ones delivering it. I’m interested to see if these last attempts at slander and propagandic spin are successful grabs at power, or the death throes of a dying medium.