Test For The Press
Like all real Americans, we watch with interest those interviews with ordinary folk explaining why they are voting for whomever they favor. We take particular interest in those people who appear 30 or older who say they never voted before. Usually, they are for Trump. What does that tell you about their level of citizenship?
Actually, most people who say they are for Trump do not seem stupid. They may not have a college degree, but they speak pretty well and their concerns about the economy, foreign competition, etc. seem thoughtful. Nor do they seem like flaming racists. But you have to wonder why a number of those same people say they believe President Obama wasn’t born in this country, and that he is a Muslim.
We wish the interviewers in these situations would ask one more question. Where do these people get their information? Is it from Fox News, which has a well-earned reputation for a right wing GOP bias? And do they read a newspaper? We tend to doubt it, with newspaper circulation having dropped so precipitously. Even television evening news attracts far smaller audiences than in the days of Huntley-Brinkley and Walter Cronkite.
We wonder if these people are addicted to the internet, which is notoriously unreliable. Are these the kind of people who read that some American cities have adopted Sharia law, or that Target stores are owned by Muslims—and immediately forward that nonsense to all their friends?
You don’t have to be deplorable to do that. We have friends who are well-educated and highly successful, who don’t take the time to investigate such trash before they spread it on the internet.
It is ironic that the media are being savaged by Donald Trump at the same time that the traditional media have lost much of its influence? A test of that decline on a local level is coming up soon. Virtually every important newspaper in Florida has campaigned heavily against Amendment One on the ballot. It pretends to be supporting solar energy development, but in fact, is sponsored by the leading electric companies who want to control solar and prevent independent solar companies from enjoying the competitive benefits that they do in most states. It is a deceptive and shameful move, backed by $22 million in advertising.
The Sun-Sentinel and other South Florida papers have repeatedly and very visibly urged voters to vote against this amendment. Most recently, Sunday's Miami Herald had a major story (headline above), and Monday's Sun-Sentinel explained the disgraceful attempt to confuse voters. It is hard to believe that any voter who reads a major Florida newspaper regularly does not understand this deception by the power companies and will vote accordingly against the amendment. And yet newspaper readership has declined so much, and even though papers' digital versions are still widely read, there is a major difference in their formats. A newspaper can get attention with positioning and length of a story. That impact is largely lost on the internet.
Nov. 8 will be an interesting commentary on the state of the fourth estate in our state.
Headline from Miami Herald