When the public no longer, on a general basis, places stock in the watchmen-and-women-on-the-wall, it does not take a clairvoyant fellow to see that dark storm clouds are on the horizon.
Brent Bozell has watched with a keen eye as this situation unfolded.
"Founder and President of the Media Research Center, Mr. Bozell runs the largest media watchdog organization in America," his Politico biography reads. "Established in 1987, the MRC has made “media bias” a household term, tracking it daily and printing the compiled evidence biweekly in its well-known Notable Quotables, as well as the daily CyberAlert intelligence report on the internet. His most recent book, Whitewash: What the Media Won’t Tell You About Hillary Clinton, but Conservatives Will, was released in November of 2007. His previous book, Weapons of Mass Distortion: The Coming Meltdown of the Liberal Media, was released in July of 2004.
"In 1998, Mr. Bozell launched CNSNews.com, an online news service with an emphasis on investigative journalism. CNSNews.com has become a major internet news source with a full staff of journalists in its Washington, DC metro bureau, with other correspondents around the world. In October 2006, Mr. Bozell founded the Culture and Media Institute (CMI), whose mission is to thwart the efforts of the liberal media to subvert America’s culture, character, traditional moral values, and religious liberty."
Bozell recently spoke with me about several matters pertaining to the American media. Some of our conversation is included below.
Joseph Ford Cotto: For many Americans, television news serves as a major source of information. Today, cable and network stations are competing to dominate the future of televised news. Given the rise of the Internet, though, does it even matter who ultimately wins out?
Brent Bozell: Not really. The bigger question: What's happening to news -- period? On television, the cable "news" networks produce 80-90% commentary/talk shows. The broadcast networks do 1/2 hour news shows, with half sometimes being tabloid news, or human interest stories. On the internet, more and more outlets are morphing reporting into blogging, and calling it "news." Only in newspapers is there real news, dependably, even if it's biased.
Cotto: Cable news stations gained much traction over the last few decades. However, they are rapidly losing ground to various Internet outlets. Beyond any other reason, why is this?
Bozell: Mobile, mobile, mobile. Everything's going mobile. As of a year ago (last I saw), mobile technology -- i.e., smart phones -- is dominating. In fact, there is as much video content being viewed on cell phones as all other video platforms (television, movies, tablets, desk tops, etc.) combined. Television is going the way of the dinosaur. It will still be strong for some time to come because of generational viewing habits, but the trends are unmistakable.
Cotto: Whether the station in question is a network affiliate or a cable channel, most people would probably expect some sort of bias to be present. Given how polarized our society has become, an ever-larger share of the population might find this to be a good thing. Do you have a perspective on this?
Bozell: No, no, no. Bias is never, ever a good thing in news reporting. Reporting that carries a deliberate bias is commentary -- period. The problem with the old media is that existing rules of journalism have been ignored for years. The problem with the internet is that there are no rules. It's the Wild, Wild West of journalism, and that problem's bigly. More and more, "reporters" are bloggers, meaning they're not reporters, they're bloggers.
Cotto: Print publications, by and large, are going -- or have gone -- the way of the dinosaurs. Internet news outlets, meanwhile, are flourishing. What has been the most important consequence of this?
Bozell: As stated, the slow death of news. I've believed for years that we're are leaving the news era and entering the information age. People no longer wait for news, they search for information. Only newspapers -- not magazines, newspapers -- have news sections. It's a terrible shame, and it's downright dangerous. We are becoming ignorant. A democracy depends on an educated electorate. This is how despots are elected.