By selectively reporting and obfuscating the truth our media outlets, newspapers and television, can pit one newsmaker against another without our even having knowledge of the manipulation. The motivation for doing so is powerful. The cause is competition driven, and it is necessary for the survival - of the most dishonest.
In a most recent example, as reported by Media Matters, two newspapers, USA Today, and the venerable New York Times, left out a vital piece of information, in an apparent action designed to fuel the fire to sell more papers.
“Summary: The New York Times and USA Today uncritically reported President Bush's attacks on Democrats over congressional investigations of Alberto Gonzales, but neither newspaper noted that criticism of Gonzales has been bipartisan: numerous Republicans have called for Gonzales' resignation, several have criticized the administration's lack of cooperation with congressional investigations, and senior Republican Judiciary Committee members have joined Democrats in voting to authorize subpoenas of Bush administration officials as part of investigations involving Gonzales.”
In the case above, being critical of both sides would have been a fair and more balanced approach to journalism. But in so reporting one-sided, they butter one side of the bread, but they leave the knife out to butter the other at a later time. Because conflict is interesting for all and even exciting for some. A good fight is worth watching. A good highway car crash is worth rubber necking.
The following is another example of the news pitting one side against another. The example is close on the calendar to the above example to indicate the frequency of such selective news reporting. In the following example the author of the article in question had already printed the factual information, which is missing, a month earlier. But he then chose to not print it again when it may make the candidate look like a failure.
“In a July 31 article on possible Republican presidential candidate Fred Thompson's June fundraising totals, Washington Post staff writer Matthew Mosk reported that Thompson "will file the first accounting of his potential presidential campaign's fundraising activity with the Internal Revenue Service tomorrow, and the report will show that the enterprise raised between $3.1 million and $3.2 million in June, according to sources familiar with the Thompson operation." But the article failed to note that Thompson's fundraising haul falls short of a June goal of $5 million the Post itself reported at the time that the campaign had set.”
The media in America has become so corporate and so conglomerated that the competition for viewers is now concentrated to dangerously small levels. For instance with just three cable and television news networks, this means one media owning group could take away %20-%33 from the other two via mistakes from the other side, or getting or creating a “scoop,” on their side.
For instance, FOX News has already cemented in its %33 of American viewers. Fox News is notorious for obfuscation and one sided reporting in favor of the Conservative political side of “understanding.” A University of Maryland study on media ethics recently found that fully 6/10ths of their viewers thought that Saddam Hussien was responsible for the 9/11 attack. As the Bush administration would like them to.