If you’ve felt like the media is screwing with you quite a bit lately, then your feelings aren’t invalid.
It’s hardly lost on anyone that the media went from telling us all we were fools (actual Andrew Cuomo quote) for going out into public while a virus was apparently raging across the United States to running defense on violent riots by calling them peaceful. It’s almost like a child dropping one toy because it got distracted by another one.
This is exactly what happened and it needs to be understood why and to first understand this you have to change your perception of the media.
Many view the media as a public service. In fact, they oftentimes frame themselves that way. News networks and journalists promote themselves as going there to get the real story so you’re more informed. They’re serving you so you can get up to the minute updates on the things affecting this nation and by extension, you. They don’t do it for themselves, they do it because they care, etc, etc.
The truth is, in the same way that Taco Bell wants you to come to eat at their fast food joint by showing you pictures of expertly put together tacos and enchiritos, media networks do up the news in order to make you pay attention. The difference is, the country isn’t going to suffer greatly because of the Doritos Locos Taco.
Case in point, I’d like to point you to the recent media silence on slain retired officer David Dorn. Dorn was an elderly former police captain who was protecting a pawn shop during the riots. He was shot over a television by looters and left to die on the sidewalk. The only person there to mourn him was a panicked man swapping between begging him to stay with him and cursing the rioters.
It’s an atrocious end for a man who served his community for years. For all intents and purposes, this should make national headlines as it would show the nation how out of hand the riots and looting have gotten. What’s more, Dorn was a black man, and since “black lives matter,” Dorn’s photo should have been plastered on every working television screen as another black victim of senseless violence.
But it wasn’t. Networks hardly gave Dorn’s murder any attention, if they gave it any attention at all.
Why are they ignoring this?
There are a few angles as to why. Ideological and political expedience for one, but one major and often overlooked reason is that for a network to zero in on Dorn’s murder, it’s shooting itself in the foot monetarily.
The truth is, the riots are good for business. You can’t flip on the television or open up your browser without seeing images and footage of riots, protests, police in riot gear, barking dogs, destruction, mayhem, and violence. Without even knowing it, you’re immediately glued, wanting to know more. Your eyes linger on the station, or you click on the article or video showing you more.
This isn’t an accident. People are naturally fascinated by these kinds of things, even if they’re horrified by them. Especially if they’re horrified by them. The media serves it up because they know that if they do, they’ll hold your attention longer and you’ll return for more later. Maybe you’ll tell your friends and they’ll tune in. All the while, ads are flowing across your screen garnering more money for the network or website giving you a steady flow of attention-grabbing content.
If they focused on Dorn, people might begin to turn sour on the riots and public opinion would move toward them stopping. It’s easy to sell the idea of riots being a reaction to unfairness toward the black community and garnering sympathy for it based off that idea. The media can run defense for rioters, calling them “mostly peaceful” and criticizing those who say otherwise.
The media has a vested interest in keeping the riots going. Stoking outrage, division, and disaster only helps their ratings. Highlighting police responses to riots and protesters heightens tensions.
Reporting on Dorn would do the opposite. There is no financial reason to report on Dorn for many a news network.
Remember that the media isn’t here to serve you, it’s a business meant to serve its partners. You may think that the product being sold to you is the news, but the truth is that the product is you, and those selling the ads are the real customers. If ever you become confused as to why the media is ignoring a story, political agendas are one thing for sure, but making money is another. The alphabet news networks, be they regular television to cable, are a corporation trying to make money in the same way Taco Bell is, the only difference is that instead of tacos, they’re selling your eyeballs.
No matter what friendly slogan they use after they say their name, remember that the media is not your friend.