June 9, 2007

Media Negligence: Paris Hilton is Not Newsworthy

The United States is at war, and the American death toll shows no signs of abating any time soon. Where is the media? They have bowed to executive branch, and by agreeing not to cover the human cost of the war, they are now complicit. It is widely known that America entered the war on false pretenses and that the American public was skillfully manipulated by an administration determined to have their war. And yet, nobody responsible for these despicable acts has been held accountable. Where is the media? Top military leaders acknowledge that this war has been mismanaged by civilian leadership from the start, but again, there has been no accountability, only medals. Again, the media stands by without asking the questions that must be asked. Corruption pervades the highest levels of American government, as political loyalty and a degree from Regents University are valued over competence and experience. Calls for accountability are growing among the public and a some politicians but have little impact because those with any real authority refuse to act. Where is the media? They are covering Paris Hilton.

I flipped on MSNBC yesterday and was treated to a scene reminiscent of the infamous OJ Bronco chase. Filmed from at least one helicopter, I followed the police car driving Paris to court after she had been prematurely let out of jail by the sheriff in charge. Now the judge was upset and had asked her to come back to court.

I marveled at the resources which were clearly being devoted to cover Paris Hilton. I wondered what many other stories had been scrapped in order to broadcast several hours of continuous Paris coverage.

The news anchor was acting as if this was the most important story of the decade. Numerous comparisons with OJ were made, and grand speculation about how the Paris situation could lead to the collapse of the American legal system were offered up. No mention was made of the efforts by some in Congress to restore habeas corpus, the legal doctrine which is actually at the center of our legal system and which was recently dismantled by our ideologically-driven president.

Against this context of so much critical news, about which the American public must be informed, the media instead focuses on Paris Hilton. Why is she newsworthy? Is it just because she is famous, and if so, why exactly is she famous? She is white, wealthy, has appeared in a couple bad movies and an unwatchable television show, and some people find her attractive. Is this really enough these days? None of this makes her newsworthy.

Perhaps the coverage has another purpose. Since those who control big media have evidently made a series of decisions not to cover the actual news which has the potential to affect the lives of Americans, I wonder if they are desperate to serve up a distraction. Could the Paris Hilton story be like dangling car keys in front of an infant?

The American media is guilty of negligence. We count on them to keep our citizenry informed, and they are in clear violation of this duty by willfully ignoring relevant news in favor of manufactured fluff. This harms us through maintained ignorance of critical news, leaves us unprepared to function in a global society, and reinforces a dumbing down of our populace.

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