In the old days, in television journalism, there were people called editors and news directors. Among their responsibilities was to tell reporters and camera crews what stories they needed to cover that day.
Their choices were based on several factors which included what they considered news, viewer interest (i.e. ratings) and, more subtly, their own biases.
When I started my journalism career as a journalist, there were only three broadcast networks and local TV and radio stations. Radio stations played music and reported local news. The news was what those guards said it was.
When television stations switched from 15-minute to 30-minute newscasts, some expressed concern that there would not be enough news to fill the time.
Then the news was considered serious business. We would cover congressional hearings and presidential press conferences. There would be stories of crime, and news from Europe and Asia reported by “office managers” who were full-time correspondents.
Most of the time, however, these were topics considered important to America, a type of “eat your vegetables” approach. Yes, times have changed and much of today’s media seems to be more opinion than fact, more infotainment than news.
In 1987, the repeal of the Fairness Doctrine, which required broadcasters to present “fair and balanced coverage” contributed to the development of “alternative media”.
These cable networks and some print publications began carrying stories ignored by the once-dominant mainstream media. They quickly attracted the loyalty of conservative politicians and clerics who felt their beliefs and values were ignored.
The power to ignore is still the greatest power of mainstream media and few issues demonstrate this more than the issues on our southern border.
Fox News and the New York Post were the only media entities to consistently cover the flood of undocumented migrants entering the country illegally.
Critics generally dismiss anything carried by these outlets as coming from “Right-wing media” and therefore inherently untrustworthy.
The latest example is reported by Angie Wong in the Post. Wong traveled to Mission, Texas, and reported that after being “treaty,” migrants receive colored folders indicating the city of their destination. She says she saw plane tickets to Atlanta, Houston, Newark and New York. The dossier, she writes, also includes “…a booklet resembling a U.S. passport, money, prepaid credit cards, travel itineraries, and an English translation map,” which asks people to help the migrant find the right flight.
Moreover, observes Wong, each migrant receives “a set of clothes… a blanket, a bag of food the size of a pillow and a hand luggage. Some received cell phones.
All of this is presumably paid for by American taxpayers. Wong further notes “Their handlers go through immigration and security with just a flash of paperwork, while all other passengers had to show ID.” She says she was told the handlers were members of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and churches.
Why isn’t this news? It does, of course, but it doesn’t fit the narrative of a media outlet whose members are, according to numerous surveys over many years, predisposed to Democratic politicians. They ignore what might otherwise be called an invasion.
Again, ignoring something worth publishing is their greatest power. No wonder their level of trust is, according to Gallup, at its second lowest level on record.
Editor’s Note: Readers can email Cal Thomas at tcaeditorstribpub.com. Look for Thomas’ latest book “America’s Expiration Date: The Fall of Empires and Superpowers and the Future of the United States” (HarperCollins/Zondervan).