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B*tch Made Me Do It and Other Musings on the Nature of Journalism

So, there I sat in my livingroom couch, just trying to unwind after a long day at work. And there on my TV is Chris Matthews, discussing the latest and greatest controversy over a pastor of a church of less than 50 people who wants to burn the Koran as some oblique and misguided attempt to send a message to radical – and as oft-stated, ONLY radical – Islam. Sitting with representative journalists from The Washington Post, the New York Times and various other regional and national news outlets as he has for a week, he wondered aloud to his audience, “why do we give this guy so much attention?”

Well, that’s easy. The bitch made you do it.

This morning, watching television before I left for work, hosts again discussed the current plans of Pastor Terry Jones and the on-again, off-again status of his Koran burning ceremony. And with the President of the United States along with the Secretaries of State and Defense all weighing in on the issue – not to mention General David Petraus and many other political figures – the hosts reasoned that well, they’d just have to cover the issue now.

Of course you do. The bitch made you do it.

And of course we are not living this experience for the first time. Not at all. From Lacy Peterson to OJ Simpson to the Runaway Bride to the largely-overblown insanity in the 2009 pre-HCR town hall meetings, we see the media again and again creating the story more than they report the story. And again and again, we see someone in the media – if not several someones – declaring their contempt for the behavior of… the media. But always, the excuse is that, well, people are interested. And because they’re interested, that single (largely perceived) notion defines the story as legitimate.

To be fair, there are plenty of people on my FaceBook friends list, Twitter feeds and in my everyday, meat-based life that are talking about this issue. And they’re not all in the media. Including myself. Some of us, sad to say, support the pastor’s efforts; some of us enjoy the indignation that comes with looking down on someone so hateful. Not sure if that really makes us better. Either way, we seem perfectly content to consume what the media is dishing out.

Yet while McDonald’s defends its food as healthy and British Petroleum claims it acted responsibly, the media does not make any such claims. They do not pretend that what they’re pumping out is anything other than garbage, in fact, they wrinkle their noses with contempt every time they ask each other to discuss the issue. And ask each other; and ask each other; in panel after star-studded panel, they ask each other, and claim that someone else besides them is doing the asking.

And who is that someone? Why, us of course. Bitch made them do it. Its just very unfortunate that, while the media would prefer to discuss much more relevant topics, we consumers simply couldn’t contain our curiosity.

They didn’t mean to pollute the airwaves; the Twitter feed; the radio waves; the Internet. We asked for it. We made them do it. And while everyone wrings their hands, worried that the world will judge us based on the heinously hateful things as Pastor Jones and his ilk commit, I worry more that we might be judged on the acts of our media.

By Tommy Belknap

Owner, developer, editor of DragonFlyEye.Net, Tom Belknap is also a freelance journalist for The 585 lifestyle magazine. He lives in the Rochester area with his wife and son.

3 replies on “B*tch Made Me Do It and Other Musings on the Nature of Journalism”

We’ve evolved as a homogeneous knowledge-eating mass Tom. Good and bad, truth and lie, relevance or no, we thrive on it. Yesterday’s news is indeed yesterday’s – we need room for today’s.

That is an excellent point, Nancy. I hadn’t really looked at it from that perspective but you are right in that our Information Superhighway could more accurately be describes as an Information Superbuffet. And we’re all happily munching on trans-fat laced, artery-hardening, lard-fried bits of unidentifiable items we have been told were meat.

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