The Critical Mass

Ugly media sausage

I made Grandma Spevak’s sausage last weekend. True, the recipe now includes a few flourishes of my own – triple the pepper, chopped garlic and paprika that Grandma called for. And smoked paprika, at that. But I’m grinding the meat and stuffing the real hog casings with my own hands, just like Grandma did. So in that respect, it’s Grandma Spevak sausage, and certainly not Jimmy Dean’s.

And I know what goes into my  sausage. Love. And pig.

I can’t say the same about news reporting. I can’t figure out what goes in there. The regulatory standards are gone, and the fat’s going straight to our brains. It matters little that today the No. 1 lunatic in TV news, Fox News’ Glenn Beck, was stripped of his show. Millions of Americans – my parents among them – bought into that serial craziness each night.

As a card-carrying (Card Member since 1979) journalist who’s proud of all of the awesome work done by reporters on behalf of humanity over the years, I’m nevertheless embarrassed by the profession’s inability to protect its standards from scofflaws such as Beck. And Beck’s not even the problem: His audience is a minor fraction of the American population. No, the real issue is that lies are so much an accepted part of the news landscape that anyone who seeks assurance that the president is a Kenyan-born white-hating socialist Muslim who wants to destroy America can hear it from many of our Republican congressmen.

The gatekeeper of truth, news media, attends to other needs. Two self-adoring crazy people have enjoyed a significant overload of attention in the last couple of weeks. Charlie Sheen, who I’m surprised is still alive.  And Donald Trump. I suppose every crazy person in America has the right to declare themselves a candidate for president of the United States. But that doesn’t mean we have to quote them. What’s most discouraging is, during the last Democratic presidential primaries, Dennis Kucinich was dismissed by the media as not being a serious candidate – despite offering a trove of sensible ideas – because he wasn’t backed by serious money. Trump says insane stuff. But he has money.

News? No, we’re being fed bad sausage, loaded with filler and carcinogens and the severed fingers of young interns who died while typing the press releases.

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