The television news cycle was crazy Tuesday. A MSNBC anchor compared the “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett’s charges being dropped to Attorney General William Barr’s summation of the Mueller report that did not charge President Donald Trump. “It seems like a lot of people are being exonerated and a lot of records not being shared with the public,” he said.
This is the news?
Let’s enter the political media universe where we compare apples to oranges and insist that they are the same. Delusion can take strange forms when it comes to the news. This latest brouhaha conflating President Trump and Smollett seems almost “normal” as far as psychotic episodes go.
Following the trend in television news, social media is exploding with comparisons as well. A post I saw said, “Guess the attorney behind this quote!! Jussie’s or Trump’s? He was a victim who was vilified and made to appear as a perpetrator as a result of false and inappropriate remarks made to the public, causing an inappropriate rush to judgment.”
I hate vague double speak. This quote is almost as confusing as the multiple and conflicting narratives put forth by television news about Trump or Smollett. Consequently, we can’t even figure out who the victim or the vilified are in this context.
Conjecture, speculation and opinion are masquerading as news in 2019. News should be simple and clear. And factual.
I would suggest asking nicely, but it’s time to demand facts in line with reality on these panels and debates that make up news nowadays. I miss Walter Cronkite. He knew how to deliver a news story without a hint of opinion. Just the facts.
It is disturbing that no one in the 24/7 news cycle will admit when they don’t know what the facts are. They could just wait until they have all the facts before broadcasting a story. But no…. we watch media go from defending, into attacking, forward to making excuses and eventually just making us all wish that it all would go away.
But they won’t stop. The narratives keep changing. And changing. And changing.
I know that inquiring minds want to know — but this state of affairs is intolerable. Regarding Smollett and Trump, I am suspending judgement awaiting full knowledge of the facts.
No opinion is certainly better than the wrong opinion.
Someone told me to be afraid of what I have seen this week. And I am. The way that the media has handled these stories should be alarming to all of us.
If television news reporters cannot care about trashing the reputation of a rich Hollywood actor who can sue them, they don’t care about trashing you or me. And if they can refuse accountability in reporting about the president of the United States, they don’t care about being accountable to you or me. And they seem to be doing bipartisan trashing. Your party can’t save you.
To conclude, I bring to you the words of a great thinker.
“The media’s the most powerful entity on earth. They have the power to make the innocent guilty and to make the guilty innocent, and that’s power. Because they control the minds of the masses. The press is so powerful in its image-making role, it can make the criminal look like he’s the victim and make the victim look like he’s the criminal. This is the press, an irresponsible press... If you aren’t careful, the news (papers) will have you hating the people who are being oppressed and loving the people who are doing the oppressing.” — Malcolm X
I submit to you that news should not be like entertainment. We can’t allow media to just make up the stories as they go along. We also can’t allow them to simply rewrite a news story when they don’t like the ending.
It’s time to bring facts back into vogue.
Rachel Stovall is a longtime community advocate and organizer. Also a fundraising, media and marketing consultant, Stovall is most known for singing with her dance band Phat Daddy and the Phat Horn Doctors.