5 Reasons Why the Press Hates the Public

For several weeks now we've listened patiently to the plaintive wails of the indignant public. We've heard the whining and snipes from all types; the unceasing moans in the dark from the bankers to the homebound housewives rattling their bony fingers at the all-inclusive fourth estate, the menacing behemoth that is the media. We are even being placed upon the scale of public wrath -- for God's sake -- next to lawyers and politicians. Now that's going too far.Ever since James Fallows wrote his treatise on the ever-dwindling popularity of the press, my colleagues have been engaged in a highly-public round of painful self-examination that borders on self-flagellation. We have been scolded by our brethren at Time. The New Yorker recently wrote two pieces on the sad demise of public confidence in the media, including a hand-wringing apologia from the reporter who exposed the hypocrisy of Gary Hart's candidacy by pointing out that Hart was humping anything that moved, and maybe a few things that were dead. "There is just too much cynicism," he said, "and I don't like it."Well, boo, as they say, hoo. We feel for you pal, but please take your personal confessions out to Hazelden or some other rehab clinic; we don't need your kind. Those of us in the press who worship the Gods of Journalism (Mencken, Liebling, Twain, Rebecca Kohls on her good days) have already stomached such we-are-the-world media experiments as news-by-poll; focus-group storytelling; "We" journalism, originated by USA Today but universally accepted, that assumes consensus on every issue is a good thing; "the healing journalism," promoted by feel-good general interest magazines; and so-called "public" journalism, which in its least flattering form co-opts real breathing reporters into dubious public relations stunts.We accept -- even relish -- your criticism; that's what we're here for, open debate. Yes, we are arrogant, self-righteous and often exploitive and uncaring. That given, I think it's only fair to say: Well, you're not so swell, either. What follows are a few reasons the press hates the public:Number One: It's satire, stupid. It has been eons since Jonathan Swift offered a modest proposal that encouraged the poor to eat their children, but you still don't get it. You can't tell a tongue in a cheek from a jaw breaker. You have no sense of humor and you don't know coincidence from irony. Chicago columnist Mike Royko recently wrote a piece of brilliant satire that made fun of ignoramuses like Pat Buchanan who stereotype people based on race. Did the public rise up against Buchanan? Of course not. They picketed Royko instead.Number Two: "Why don't you cover "good" news?" Because, gentle reader, you don't want good news; you can't handle good news. We are often accused of being crabby, irreverent and mean-spirited -- but when we write something critical, at least your incessant whining let's us know you're breathing. If we acquiesce and write a "good news" story, all we get are babbling letters from elderly librarians quibbling over the improper usage of grammar. Perhaps the media tendency to be critical simply reflects the human imperative to bitch.Number Three: "Something must be done." Your cat died. The planes are too loud. Your taxes are too high. So, you call us: "You have to do something," you plead. No, lady, you do something. Like vote. We'll be there, we promise.Number Four: You call to complain about a story that you didn't read, but you heard about on talk radio or from your neighbor, Clem, who heard it on talk radio. Please, read the story -- if you can. Number Five: "You misquoted me." No, knucklehead, I taped our interview; you simply talk stupid. A popular twist on this complaint is, "You took it out of context." So, what exactly was the context for your phrase: "I hate faggots"?Finally: Most of all, however, we hate you because you continue, week after week, to expose our left-wing bias, thus making it extremely difficult for us to subvert The Man (who often signs our paychecks) and install a communist dictatorship.


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