William Thien

Should The Media Be Removed From The Election Process?

Posted on: June 4, 2011

I don’t like to say things like this because I like to watch the news and very much enjoy reading the newspaper. Though, lately I am of the belief that the media may need to be removed from the election process and that their behavior must be regulated regarding elections in America.

Multiple attempts have been made to control campaign financing and various forms of political input, McCain-Feingold the most notable of them, with the intent to clean up the election process, but the media always seems to undermine any attempt by the elected and the public to successfully clean up the various processes of democracy. The problem persists and in fact many believe was worse during the last major election as I describe in the essay titled Campaign Finance Reform: A Plague of Democracy https://williamthien.wordpress.com/2010/10/27/campaign-finance-reform-a-plague-of-democracy/

This is most likely due to the fact that campaign season is one of the most lucrative ad revenue seasons for all types of the media, and the media lobby Congress and the courts to insure campaign finance dollars keep flowing their way, all along knowing the process is questionable. You know this as political pundits gather at all hours on the television during campaign season rubbing their hands together, a gleaming, maniacal look in their eyes, gesturing as if they can smell blood. Unfortunately, history indicates it is probably the blood of The American People.

Furthermore, the media have been known to begin accumulating files on people they believe may run for office years in advance of any such public indications. One media outlet in my television market even advertises a featured reporter attaching GPS tracking devices to people’s cars. The media are not the government, they are more often than not private corporations with a profit motive as their primary incentive. Not that the government should even be involved in such behavior, but such behavior is not free speech, it is militaristic, predatory behavior and it undermines the tranquility of the country.

And it raises the question, is the accumulation of information using such methods really free speech at all? Or is it something else entirely?

The behavior of the media lately has also become so tabloidian that you have to wonder what is going on. Is it really ratings they seek or are they on some sort of mission? And who is behind the mission? What are their names? What do they look like? Do they prescribe to a particular religious persuasion? Who polices the media? The media police the media. Sounds like a good position to be in.

The end result is we often do not find the most suitable candidates available during the voting process as the media has already filtered them out, probably due to an agenda the media have or have been paid to have, filtered them out through a thorough process of reporting often close to liable and more often than not some form of character assassination. It is illegal to shoot a man in America. But there are no laws preventing the assassination of his character. Many of the candidates, being human, have perhaps committed some minor indiscretion or been involved in some sort of difficult circumstance, yet they may be the best choice for the public at the voting booth. But the media for some reason has harped about them for months or been at their campaign trail cloaked in the Constitutional “right to free speech” when we all know more often than not the media are simply influence peddlers, with many media outlets lacking any real integrity.

The important thing though is that by the time it comes to vote, it is as if many of the most favorable candidates have been “knocked off” through a series of elaborate character assassinations committed by what could be called “media hitmen” with particular focus upon what are often the most decent men and women to run for office. We know this because all too often what candidate wins the election represents nothing the electorate could hope for or need. Since that happens over and over again, it indicates there is actually something structurally unfair about the election process. But what is it? Is the media the beast under the bed in American Politics? Is it as if the media were deliberately undermining the election process in The United States to perpetuate a state of discord and uncertainty in order to increase their ratings, as people then look by default to the media for answers concerning the declining state of the country? This indicates strictly a profit motive and not one of free speech, which further indicates to me that the media must needs be removed to a certain extent from the election process.

The problem is that such action is a slippery slope. Once you start controlling speech for one organization or individual in America will there be encroachment upon the rights of other, less damaging speech? And when it starts, when will it stop?

One thing is certain, you can not say anything you want everywhere in America. You can’t shout “fire” in a crowded theater or “bomb” on an airplane. But perhaps the media needs to be removed from the voting booth.

Leave a comment if you dare.

Copyright © William Thien 2011

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