“As the basis for self-government is an informed citizenry, and as the Fourth Estate is the institution with primary responsibility for making an informed citizenry possible, the existential crisis for news media is, in fact, an existential crisis for self-government“. — from The Collapse of Journalism and What Can Be Done To Fix It.
Our media system has had a major role in some of the worst and most costly national security failures in recent American life including cheerleading for the Iraq war, the elevation of Donald Trump to the presidency through inadequate investigative reporting, and the January 6th attempted coup. All occurred, in part, because too many media outlets failed to do the work of reporting while pundits were allowed to lie to the American public. Too many tech companies waited too long to deplatform Trump despite him breaking their own rules by using the platforms to spread hatred and lies.
What can be done? In fact, many robust laws already exist that, over time, have been flouted and civil society groups like FreePress are at the ready with many more ideas and plans that will dramatically improve our media system immediately. We need people in the federal government who understand media, news, and journalism who will lead a great, national project of media reform who understand what’s at stake.
Media companies once had to provide alternative viewpoints so as to not warp the minds of viewers for short term gains. Rules such as the Fairness Doctrine and those limiting media ownership were dismantled during the 1980s and must be reinstated for the sake of national security.
The January 6th failed attempted coup was partly the result of the failure by the government to properly enforce media accountability. Companies like Facebook, Twitter and Google and the largest, transnational media companies– Disney, News Corp, CBS, Comcast and Viacom– which today control more than 90% of the information Americans consume are supposed to operate within parameters set by the federal government. It’s time our federal government take a much more assertive role in ensuring these companies serve the public good first. This will be one of my main priorities in the US Senate.
Over the last forty years, our media and information system has not kept pace with ordinary Americans’ increasing interest to avoid war in order to rebuild America. Too many of our political leaders have played along, choosing to accept the contributions from the military industrial complex, including favorable news coverage from friendly media companies who have a stake in the war economy, despite massive waste, inefficiencies and cronyism.