Cuba & U. S. Journalism

A Candid Observation
{Thursday, February 4th 2016}
         This beautiful young lady is Katie Pavlich. She is 27-years-old. For years now, or almost since the day she graduated from the University of Arizona, she has been anointed as the face, or at least one of them, of broadcast journalism in the United States. That's important because television news, despite its precipitous decline in quality in recent decades, remains the dominant force in American journalism, long ago eclipsing newspapers and still far ahead of the digital explosion, at least regarding so-called hard news. Katie Pavlich majored in broadcast journalism at the University of Arizona and probably took a government-related class or two. That, plus her stunning looks and her strong opinions, made her an instant hit on network news operations that particularly covet Talking Heads, commentators, and pundits like Katie. The visionary Ted Turner in 1980 founded CNN as the first 24-hour cable news outfit. His idea was to hire the best broadcast journalists and send them out to cover the news. That viewpoint made him and CNN legends, but he sold out to a corporation, which also purchased his vision. Now huge corporations like Disney, General Electric, Comcast, etc., own the networks and their singular vision is money. Thus, Talking Heads and pundits as opposed to real broadcast journalists now dominate the airways...hour after nauseating hour. Talking Heads and pundits like Katie Pavlich are smart, educated, and easy to look at, but they are not broadcast journalists. In other words, they don't report the news as unbiased anchors nor do they go out and investigate the news as reporters. But they save the networks money by being studio pundits who are more than happy to be promoting themselves or their products.
Katie Pavlich happens to be a political conservative tilted to the right.
       She is thus a popular pundit and commentator on Fox News, especially Bill O'Reilly's top-rated program. Networks long ago determined that Talking Heads save them money that should be spent on sending journalists out to cover the news so viewers could be informed and also form their own opinions on issues. But Talking Heads and pundits are propagandists whose prime function is to proselytize the viewers to accept whatever it is they are selling -- their opinions, their books, etc. Katie, straight out of college, chronicled her conservatism or right-wingism with two highly publicized books. Her two books are: "Fast and Furious: Barack Obama's Bloodiest Scandal and Its Shameless Cover-Up" and "Assault & Flattery: The Truth About the Left and Their War on Women." With books like that straight out of the University of Arizona, Katie Pavlich was sure to get flattering calls from every major conservative or right-wing radio or television newshound. Barack Obama still has eleven months to go in his two-term presidency, so Katie probably has one more anti-Obama book up her sleeve before he leaves office, knowing full-well she would get countless hours of free network promotion as a prime Talking Head. That, in essence, is what broadcast journalism in the U. S. has evolved into -- a capitalist propaganda and promotion machine prioritizing money with scant emphasis on actually covering and reporting the news.
       This beautiful young lady is Cristina Escobar. She is 28-years-old. Cristina is the top broadcast journalist in Cuba and a truly skilled anchor and interviewer in either Spanish or English. Like Katie Pavlich, Cristina is well-educated and opinionated. In fact, Cristina has a very low opinion of broadcast journalism in the U. S. and she has studied it minutely -- from her vantage point in Cuba, at a journalism seminar in California in 2014, in Washington this past summer when she covered the Vidal-Jacobson diplomatic session, etc. Both on Cuban and American soil, Cristina has pointedly made this point: "The lies the U. S. media tells about Cuba hurts everyday Cubans the most." Indeed, on her newscasts in Cuba Cristina will readily criticize the Cuban government if she feels everyday Cubans are being mistreated or could be better served. By contrast, she believes her counterparts in America do not have the broadcast freedom that she has in Cuba. Yes, she understands that broadcast journalists in the U. S. can and do regularly criticize their governments -- local, state and national. However, she believes that "the lies the U. S. media tells about Cuba" is "mostly speaking to the choir, telling the masses what they have been programmed to believe and then using that to make money and improve ratings." Moreover, Cristina seems to comprehend what Americans are not supposed to realize, which is: The stark preference for Talking Head pundits in the U. S. is merely designed to save the corporate owners money so they don't have to go to the expense of covering the news with real reporters. Cristina says, "Broadcast journalists, I believe, should report the news and be able to write it and be able to conduct intelligent and appropriate interviews. But having people on set to fill time and promote themselves or their views is not broadcast journalism. So, yes, I closely study the journalism in the U. S. to learn what not to do. I'm not a propagandist. I consider myself a broadcast journalist."
       Whether or not you agree with Cristina Escobar's views on broadcast journalism and her criticisms of the U. S. media, she is, I think, worth pondering. That's because: {1} broadcast journalism is the most domineering aspect of the U. S. media, because of the visuals and because its easier than reading print journalism; and {2} it is the medium that, as a proven propaganda tool, best proselytizes masses of people. From Cristina's Cuban viewpoint, the lies the U. S. media tells about Cuba results mostly from political correctness as opposed to hateful or punitive lies. "But," she says, "the end result is the same whether the lies are meant to hurt Cuba or meant to tell the viewers what they expect to hear, what they have been programmed to expect." Cristina believes that "lack of respect for journalism also has a capitalist bent -- money. If lies tend to make more network money than the truth, lies win out in U. S. broadcast journalism."
       From the beautiful young broadcast journalists Katie Pavlich and Cristina Escobar, we move to the pedestrian-looking, veteran print journalist Ken Silverstein. He helps explain the declining respect for the news media in the U. S., which is reflected by an approval rating in the single digits, even below class-action lawyers. Ken has earned a reputation as a top investigative journalist. He has worked for a myriad of highly respected organizations -- the Los Angeles Times, Harper's Magazine, and the Associated Press. Because of television and digital competition, many great newspapers have gone out of business, such as the superb Rocky Mountain News in Denver, or been forced to downsize print editions in favor of online coverage. But to this day magazines like Harper's, Time, etc., and print newspapers from the Los Angeles Times on the West Coast to the New York Times on the East Coast to the Kansas City Star in the Heartland remain the best sources to get actual news coverage. Ken Silverstein represents the divide between print journalism today and pundit-driven broadcast journalism. He recently wrote a long, well-researched article about a prime presidential candidate that he depicted as just about the most corrupt person to ever be considered a serious presidential candidate in the United States. Mr. Silverstein is a high-profile journalist and his eminently detailed corroborations were similarly high-profile, amply supportive of his conclusions as he cited incidents, names, and dates -- none of which, to my knowledge, will ever be denied. Yet, the broadcast networks don't dare mention such things because, if they did, that notable candidate and others like him might refuse to become Talking Heads, meaning the networks might have to cover the news.
       This is the graphic that accompanied the aforementioned article by Ken Silverstein in which he eviscerated Marco Rubio's character, which possibly -- unless disputed -- could, or should, be of interest to voters. You can go online to read the article and then judge it, Mr. Silverstein, and Mr. Rubio for yourself.
         Print journalists such as Ken Silverstein and the editorial writers at the New York Times still tell both sides of two-sided stories, something broadcast journalists in the U. S. appear incapable or unable to do. MSNBC's "Morning Joe" program -- featuring anchors Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski -- is one of the most influential political programs. Morning Joe, a former Florida congressman, is more of a pundit than anchor. On the morning a major article in the New York Times revealed major financial mishaps and misdeeds by Marco Rubio in Florida, Morning Joe held up that article to the camera and loudly proclaimed, "This will get Marco elected President of the United States!!" And well it might, if the broadcast journalists have their way. Ken Silverstein's subsequent article was much more detailed in regards to what he called Rubio's unfathomably "corrupt" shenanigans but I don't know if Morning Joe held up Silverstein's article and declared that it would get Rubio elected President. But my contiguous and contaminant mosaic that includes such eclectic and diverse media personalities as Katie Pavlich, Cristina Escobar, Ken Silverstein, and Morning Joe is merely to illustrate a fact of life in the United States: What now passes for broadcast journalism in the U. S. would, I think, be reprehensible or unrecognizable to the great Walter Cronkite.
       The New York Times this week used this perceptive Political Cartoon to show an Anger Meter that aptly defines the growing distaste Americans have for both the money-crazed political process and the money-crazed/pundit-driven media coverage of it, which drags on endlessly to keep the unlimited financial donations and the ad money streaming in. THE PRIME VICTIMS ARE THE VOTERS AND THE VIEWERS.
{Photo courtesy: JSBICXY/Birds & Blooms Magazine}
Birds in winter need seeds/food from humans.


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