Let’s Say You Worked At KBOI …


Walter Cronkite, never questioned for his integrity.

Here’s a question for you. It’s one of those “what would you do” questions. You know, like in that teevee show where they put people on thin moral ice in a public situation and film the results with hidden cameras? Okay, I don’t have any hidden cameras or hidden microphones, so don’t get all nervous about how you look. And even if I wanted to, I have no way of walking out of a back room or from behind a screen and surprising you with how you’ve been the subject of a television production, that all the people around you are actors playing a role. No, this isn’t anything like that show, except for the central question: What would you do?

So here’s the thin moral ice, and I’m asking you to imagine yourself on it: Let’s say you’re a television news show anchor. A local television news show anchor. You do all the stuff local television news show anchors do. On normal days, you sit at the anchor desk in your coat and tie looking professional as you go through the list of the day’s news items, breaking every few minutes to ask the weather guy (gal) what to expect, atmospherically-wise, for the weekend. Then you go back to reporting on the latest road construction, the speech the mayor made before this group or that, how the autopsy on that dead dude they found next county over is proceeding … etc.

And every now and then, you pull on a pair of jeans and go outside for an on-location report of what’s happening with the snow pack up at the nearest ski slope, opening day at the water park, how things are stacking up at the farmers’ market, the annual arts in the park, the first day of training for the local college football team … etc.

Come state fair time, you might even dig out a cowboy hat and do the evening news from a booth next to the Pronto Pup wagon. And if there’s a rodeo coming up anywhere near, you spend half the broadcast interviewing bull riders, people flipping flapjacks at the opening day breakfast, kids who chase greased pigs around a muddy pen … etc.

Actually, to answer this question (“What would you do?”), you don’t have to be the anchor. You could be the newscast’s producer, say. Or one of the roving reporters. Even the weather guy/gal or the general manager. Because the question has more to do with who you’re working for than it does what your work is.

See, at some point after you got the job—which in all the previous history of local television broadcast news has tended to be benignly apolitical, as traffic reports and school snow-day announcements, what the football coach has to say about last Saturday’s game and extended forecasts gravitate neither to the Left nor Right—your station was bought by some corporate conglomerate that intends to become the largest owner of local television stations in the country. And they’re getting what they want, largely because the country’s leadership is now under the complete control of corporate conglomerates.

Furthermore, this particular corporate conglomerate—shall we call it “Sinclair Broadcasting” for convenience’s sake—has a very definite political agenda. It is their mission to spread the gospel of right-wing, corporate-friendly blind faith among all the small, roobish markets and to influence roobish thinking from sea to shining sea, hopefully forever more.

And to make certain their new acquisitions—that would be you and your co-workers, should you be wondering—are towing the corporate conglomerate line, they are sending along canned opinions for you to insert into your broadcasts and ridiculously loaded polls for you to conduct, all designed to swing simpler minds to the blind faith of right-wing ideology.

So now, ever since the selling off of your body and soul, you (and your work mates) have increasingly been made to act as accessories to whatever biases, slants and disinformation this corporate conglomerate sees fit to promote. Where just months ago, you were working so hard at being Mr. Friendly, the kindly, smiley-face news anchor—reminding the kiddies to look both ways before they cross a street and reminding their parents there’s a 10-K race to sign up for—now you are little more than the public grimace of the faceless machine, grinding out pro-administration cheesy sauce for an administration that is getting nearer, every passing day, to eliminating every finer thing that has separated America from the most shameful chapters of human history.

And now I repeat the question—What would you do? … if this were you? Would you continue to work for—to aid and abet, to grovel at the beck and call of—such an employer? Is the paycheck you’re getting equal to the price of your conscience? Would you continue to help spread the message of division, hatred, racism, incompetence and treason that is becoming, every passing day, the legacy of this president and the corporate conglomerations supporting him?

Or is there enough backbone left in you to not part of the next shameful chapter in human history?

Edward R. Murrow, another television journalist who would never have let himself become a toady.

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