Journalism: A Eulogy.

Last week’s admission by Chuck Todd, the host of Meet The Press, was a recognition that he no longer makes any pretense that his show is about journalism. For those who missed it, Todd stated that he dared not challenge a Teapublican guest by challenging a false statement or by asking a difficult question. For, if he did, they would never again appear on the program. In other words, Todd is admitting that he is not a journalist and that his show no longer makes any attempt to follow journalistic standards. This is especially troubling since Politifact.com found that Teapublicans lie far more than Democrats.

And Todd is not alone. The Sunday morning shows have long been the megaphone for Teapublican leaders who can say whatever they want without being challenged. Indeed, studies have shown that the number of Teapublican guests on these shows dramatically outnumber the Democrats who are invited to appear. So rather than being news, with the exception of Fareed Zakaria’s Global Public Square, the Sunday morning shows are little more than propaganda tools for the Republican Party.

Such is the fate of most so-called news outlets.

One independent study of Fox News Channel found that those who rely upon the channel for news actually knew less about national and world events than those who watched, listened to, or read no news at all. Though it fared significantly better in the study, MSNBC is slanted toward the Democratic Party. And the American-based news organization cited as the most reliable? It’s none other than National Public Radio, which is constantly under attack from both Teapublicans and Democrats for being biased toward one side or the other.

So what happened? How did we go from the reporting of legendary journalists such as Edward R. Murrow, Walter Cronkite and David Brinkley to Chuck Todd? You can blame the Federal Communications Commission which caved to conservatives by eliminating the long-standing Fairness Doctrine. Within a year of the repeal of the Fairness Doctrine, 92 percent of talk radio was conservative. A few years later, so-called “news radio” had degenerated to non-stop right-wing hate with no pretense of fairness. Things were further complicated by cable TV’s “news” channels who have a need to fill 24 hours of programming 7 days a week. They have an insatiable need for guests willing to contribute opinions and no desire to get at the truth.

The cable channels also increased the urgency of reporting events. Immediacy replaced accuracy as the primary goal of journalism.

By the time Rupert Murdoch’s Fox News Channel hit the wires with the false claim of “fair and balanced,” conservatives had the ability to lie and propagandize 24/7. So why not threaten to boycott news media such as Meet The Press if they don’t like the questions? The Teapublicans have nothing to lose. If their lies are challenged, they can simply retreat to the media known to support their viewpoints and still reach a very large portion of the population who believe they are getting the news.

Of course, the blogosphere has further contributed to the death of journalism. It is now possible to confine your “news” exposure to only those sources with whom you agree. For conservatives, that means all conservative viewpoints all the time…on the Web, on Fox News Channel, on hate radio.

For all intents and purposes, journalism is a moribund profession. Conservatives have become a large group of ditto heads uninterested in other viewpoints. Many independents have given up on politics or they’re too busy to be bothered with anything outside their own personal lives. And, though many liberals are still exposed to other viewpoints through NPR and PBS, they are largely influenced by liberal-leaning media.

So RIP, Journalism. You had a long and important run as the 4th Estate. You made a difference while it lasted. Unfortunately, our national lack of curiosity and fairness led to your untimely death. Sadly, it was left to a political hack to unintentionally read your eulogy. Ironically, his admission on Meet The Press may have been the only time Chuck Todd ever resorted to actual journalism.

The Real Israeli-Palestinian War.

Since the murder of 3 Israeli teenagers and the revenge killings of more than 2,000 Palestinians, Israel and Hamas have been engaged in a propaganda war. And it appears that Hamas is winning. The disproportionate Israeli attacks on Gaza, including air strikes on hospitals, schools and UN facilities, polls have caused the popularity of Hamas to soar. As recently as March, 58 percent of Gazans disapproved of Hamas. But since the conflict, the approval ratings of Hamas have skyrocketed. 94 percent of Palestinians now approve of the way Hamas conducted the war and 53 percent now believe that military conflict is the best way to achieve a Palestinian state.

This can only be made worse by the Israeli announcement that it is annexing another 1,000 acres of the occupied West Bank.

Despite polls showing that the majority of Israelis favor peace negotiations and a two-state solution, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu seems determined to provoke Hamas into a prolonged conflict. Israel points to the rockets being fired from Gaza, yet Israel controls everything that goes in and out of Gaza. As a result, Gazans have great difficulty gaining access to building materials and food. There are pronounced shortages of virtually everything.

So if rockets and other arms are being smuggled into the strip, it’s as much Israel’s fault as it is Gaza’s.

Even with the rockets and small arms, Hamas can have little effect on Israel. But thanks, in part, to the $3 billion a year in military aid from the US, Israel can wipe Gaza from the face of the Earth. Indeed, the UN estimates that it will take 20 years or more for Palestinians to rebuild Gaza neighborhoods providing, of course, Israel will allow concrete to cross the border. Yet, despite its military superiority, this is a war that Israel cannot win.

To understand why, one has to examine the region’s history. Even before World War II, Great Britain made the decision to help displaced Jews return to their “promised land.” To implement the plan, Britain drew up arbitrary borders which displaced thousands of Palestinians. In other words, Jewish refugees created Palestinian refugees. By 1948, there were already more than 700,000 Palestinian refugees crowded into Gaza, the West Bank and surrounding nations. With the creation of the State of Israel in 1948, Arab nations chose to fight back on behalf of the Palestinians. There has been almost constant fighting ever since.

After Israel won the 1967 war, it occupied Gaza and the West Bank. It filled the West Bank with Israeli settlements. Contrary to previous agreements, it claimed all of Jerusalem as its capital. It has placed a highly restrictive blockade on Gaza. It has refused to negotiate a peaceful solution since Hamas won control of the Palestinian Legislative Council in 2006. And it called for its special ally, the US, to block Palestinian membership in the UN.

Those are the facts. How you interpret them and which side you take is largely the result of the propaganda war.