Mainstream media as a whole (there are certainly exceptions) no longer serves as public advocate. It is entertainment–candy everybody wants. On its own, it is not the ideal organ to discuss or solve our country’s racial problems, yet it is the place most people get their information on the topic.Tami's eloquent criticism of the media's frivolous treatment of racial problems was edifying; and I could not help but be disheartened by the realization that if the word "racial" were deleted from the second sentence, the statement would still be true. Mainstream media is failing to discuss our country's problems - racial, political, environmental, and feminist issues are treated with a focus on entertainment that boarders on insolence, insulting not only the subject so the stories used to create a show, but also the intelligence of the electorate.
I was struck again by the severity of the problem as I browsed the New York Times political section this morning. You might remember that there was some resentment expressed after last week's Democratic debate in which Hillary Clinton was asked if she preferred diamond or pearls. Ann at Feministing summed up the general response, "What a stupid, gendered question." Well put. Yet, while some were annoyed with the woman who would waste valuable debate time to ask such an asinine question, it turns out that we have the higher-ups at CNN to blame. As the New York Times explains:
So, when presented with three substantive questions, CNN insisted that Ms. Parra-Sandoval ask a fluffy question. The public was denied the opportunity to learn more about Clinton's views on education or Iraq, but the debate instead ended by portraying Clinton's femininity in stereotypical terms.
Last week, CNN had contacted Ms. Parra-Sandoval, a political science student at University of Las Vegas-Nevada, through a professor, and asked her to submit a question. She wrote one about health care for children. CNN rejected it, calling it too similar to another question that would be asked. (No such question was.) So she sent another, about Iraq. That was rejected too. On Wednesday, a CNN producer asked her for two final questions, one substantive and one light. Ms. Parra-Sandoval sent one about Yucca Mountain, the Nevada site under consideration as a storage facility for radioactive waste. With the deadline approaching, she stared at her computer screen. Noticing the pearl-pattern background on her MySpace page, she dashed off the jewelry one.
CNN asked her to come to the debate with both questions memorized. Two hours in, a producer whispered that she should ask the second one.
“Because I was on national TV, I felt hesitant, but then I felt like, ‘Oh my God, I’m on national TV, I’ll just ask it,’” Ms. Parra-Sandoval said.
I end my post with the same question that is presented at the end of Tami's: how can we encourage the news corporation to discuss the serious issues that face us in a serious manner? We are all affected by their negligence.