Before the election, I used to get my news generally from four websites: cnn, huffingtonpost, slate and politico. Don’t know how I settled on these, but there it was. If I wanted to check out conservative opinion, I went to Foxnews and later on Breitbart.
Since the end of the election I have generally avoided these sites. I voted for Clinton and seeing news of Trump and his side taking the victory lap was no fun. But he won, and that’s his right.
Everyone once in a while, like yesterday and today, I get curious what is going on. So I go back to the “neutral” cnn and the liberal huffingtonpost. And then after reading around for a little while, I feel this is pointless and skip it.
Why? Not just because of Trump. But because it is amazing how much CNN and Huffingtonpost are, however unwittingly, giving more power to Trump with how they are covering him. Then again, I suppose it is all part of the process.
We are in the midst of some big tectonic shifts in our society, in America and the world more generally. One of these vast shifts is that with the rise of social media, the idea that there is a uniform, shared structure among all citizens for news is being obliterated. There is no more Walter Cronkite or Peter Jennings, journalists who seem to merely provide the news and no partisan spin; whose very ethical character seemed defined by the sense that they held themselves to such a standard of neutrality.
But in the 60s for Cronkite and even the 90s for Jennings this was possible not just because of their intrinsic moral worth but because people were dependent 3 or 4 or 5 news outlets for their main national news. It was the very power Cronkite and Jennings had, or their network heads had, which shown through as the moral uprightness of not abusing that power.