Cheap Seats 2017
The Pres v the Press – Part 1 - 03/29
By Rich Trzupek
Hey, I’m back! Anybody miss me?
Sigh. Nobody? Oh well. Let’s get back to business…
Assuming the left is incorrect in its hysterical predictions of nuclear holocaust, pointless war-mongering, random groping of women on the streets and the instigation of Krystalnacht II – all of which I would like to point out I am against, for the record – I’m starting to think that The Presidency of The Donald may be the most entertaining Presidency in American history. How effective it is remains to be seen. Nonetheless, his continual call-outs of the MSM is pure entertainment, as is the MSM’s hyperbolic reaction to it. So, let’s chat about that for a moment.
Unlike many (most?) of my fellow conservatives, I do not believe that the core problem with modern journalists is that they lean left. Most of them do, and that’s fine, but the bigger deal is that they understand less and less of the increasingly complex details of an increasingly complex world. I do not, for example, recall any journalism major attending chemistry classes with me when I was training to be a chemist at Loyola University in the late 70’s, early 80’s. Yet, so many journalists apparently believe they can write accurate stories that involve chemistry, medicine, physics and other sciences when they personally don’t have a clue about how any branch of science actually works.
It is not, in my view, a matter of MSM journalists being stupid, it’s a matter of them being lazy. If the issue involves a lot of technical or scientific nuances they view as unworthy of their effort to attempt to personally understand, they take the easy route: they find an “expert” who will effectively provide them cover. Their choice of “expert” to cite is inevitably driven by two things: 1) their personal bias (and everybody has one) regarding the message they think the story should send, and 2) how sensational the “expert’s” opinion is, because the more sensational the opinion, so long as it passes a credibility test that is currently set at a pretty low bar, the more the public will be drawn to the story.
Remember the build up to the Y2K supposed disaster? The MSM was chock full of doom and gloom stories, quoting self-proclaimed experts, because those kinds of stories attract readers and viewers. Who wants to listen to an actual expert who points out – as so many did in the lead up to Y2K – that the hysterical, self-absorbed idiots screaming and waving their arms whilst running in circles about the supposed threat of Y2K were nothing more than modern-day snake-oil salesmen? Where’s the ratings in that? BOR-ING!
In that spirit, let’s discuss a modern day Y2K-like issue that the MSM so often gives credence to supposed experts when reporting on the issue: the phantom link between autism and vaccines containing mercury.
Robert F. Kennedy Jr., a prominent vaccine opponent, was recently quoted as saying this: “On one hand, the government is telling pregnant women which mercury-laced fish to avoid so that they don’t harm their fetuses, and on the other, the CDC supports injecting mercury-containing vaccines into pregnant women, infants and children.” Many news organizations quoted Kennedy as though his statement was credible and should be duly considered in a public-policy discussion. It was, as we will discuss next week, an incredibly moronic comment.
Kennedy is entitled to his opinion of course, and to express that opinion no matter how foolish it may be. The press is free to report what Kennedy says in any way it sees fit. But, in my view, the MSM should feel an obligation to personally understand the underlying issues when quoting somebody like Mr. Kennedy regarding so important an issue.
Please note that this is not a partisan issue, at least to my knowledge. There is not a Democrat position about vaccination, nor is there a Republican position. So, if we want to work on the media getting things right, why not start here: with an issue where everyone has a stake in getting it right and no-one needs to posture in order to get elected.
Kennedy is wrong. He’s not just wrong, he’s dangerously wrong. I suspect his intentions are good, but he is assuming a level of chemical and medical expertise for which he has not been trained nor has acquired, and far too many in the MSM are willing to provide him with a veneer of legitimacy and – worse – are unwilling to become personally educated about this vitally important issue so that they can meaningfully decide who are the real experts and who are the faux experts. That is the essence of the problem we face.
Next week: the folly of Robert F. Kennedy Jr.