Joe Paterno, Newt and Gabrielle Giffords
Joe Paterno, Newt Gingrich and Gabrielle Giffords all share this in common:
- All three were in the news this past week
- All three were central in unprofessional news media coverage
The problem with the news media these days is that most of its practitioners have forgotten how to be journalists.
The news media today is driven more by ratings, sound bytes, the 24-hour news cycle and their own exaggerated self-importance than they are by propriety and truth.
Many are little more than vultures swarming overhead seeking victims that they themselves helped create.
Losing a game is heartbreaking. Losing your sense of excellence or worth is a tragedy.
Paterno died last week in the aftermath of a scandal driven to a fever pitch by a media feeding frenzy two months earlier.
That frenzy cost him his job, his sense of excellence and his dignity.
Medical records will show he died of complications from lung cancer.
History will record Joe Paterno died of a broken heart.
Behind a proud bronze statue erected of Paterno on Penn State’s campus in September 2010 it reads:
They asked what I’d written about me when I’m gone. I hope they write, I made Penn State a better place. Not that I was just a good football coach
On last Sunday’s morning political talk show circuit the news media all universally lamented the tragedy of Paterno’s death. They all said, its to bad the first sentence in his legacy will always be about the Sandusky sex scandal. Paterno should have done more, they said, almost in unison.
During the ironically named CNN show, “Reliable Sources”, host Howard Kurtz publicly apologized for tweeting that Paterno was dead before he had actually died. He obliquely mentioned that he had not confirmed his sources.
Kurtz did not understand his own media’s sin reporting Paterno’s premature death.
In a following panel discussion on Kutz’s show about the role of the media reporting Newt Gingrich’s moral character, one of the panelists justified King attacking Newt by saying they had already covered all the issues in the previous debates.
According to him, there was nothing more to report.
Is that what presidential elections have degenerated into?
To the cheers of the audience, Gingrich blasted King for his unsavory brand of televised yellow journalism.
He did not let up after King backpedaled and attempted to blame the equally bad judgement of ABC news for asking his question in the first place.
King’s attempted smear may not have won the South Carolina primary for Gingrich, but it certainly contributed to his margin of victory.
In the aftermath of her shooting a year ago while holding what she called a “Congress on Your Corner” event in front of a Safeway store at a mall north of Tucson, Arizona… the media feeding frenzy this time blaming right-wing extremism.
Six innocent bystanders, including a federal judge and a child, died. Giffords is a Democrat in a primarily Republican state.
Right wing extremism… that is all you heard about on the news for weeks on end.
Sarah Palin was blamed because of a rife-sight graphic she used targeting Giffords for congressional replacement.
Even U.S. Congressmen, Kurt Schrader (D-OR), was quoted widely by the national media from his own Congressional web site in a local Statesman-Journal newspaper article in Salem, Oregon titled, “Right-wing talk hosts helped fuel vitriol that led to shooting” as saying:
“Oregon Rep. Kurt Schrader, Democrat, is holding right wing commentators Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck responsible for the tragic shooting spree in Arizona.”
– Paul C. Barton, Gannett Washington Bureau, 1/10/2011
It even prompted President Obama to call on Congress to be more civil. That lasted about 15 minutes before Obama himself broke that pledge.
I personally know this act was committed by an insane human being who had no political motivation at all.
I know this because as soon as I learned that Jared Lee Laughlin committed the crime, within hours of the shooting, I personally looked up everything in existence that Jared himself had ever published online. The guy was then, and is still now, a pure nut case. He isn’t sane enough to have a political viewpoint.
The New America Foundation, a think tank, last December ranked Penn State’s football team first in academics among the top 25 teams in the country.
I suspect no one reading this knows that.
That is because everyone believes the evil things incessantly alleged by TV and print media about Joe Paterno that got him fired.
Many, if not most, folks still believe that Newt is unfit to be president and that the Gabrielle Giffords’ attempted assassination was for purely political reasons.
As long as we, as citizens, allow the news media to define for us what we think, then this nation will continue to decline.