If I may comment on this morning’s front-page headline. News Media: You owe BETTER THAN THIS to all citizens who believe in your ability to safeguard the integrity of government!
While you (the media) may honestly believe this headline accurately reflects the true story, can’t you also see that framing the narrative in this way—as a humiliating defeat, as a battle lost—just amplifies everyone’s general level of anger? Deepens our cynicism about the futility of civic engagement?
Can’t you also understand that the events alluded to in the above headline may actually hint at how government ought to work? That when one party realizes their proposed legislation lacks support, those projects need to be abandoned and new approaches sought that are worthy of wider approval? Most Americans are weary of the zero-sum-game mentality that has taken over politics. They would appreciate a functional government run by competent adults.
They would also appreciate a free press that lives up to its potential. This morning’s headline might easily have been stated more objectively (and calmly) as: “GOP pulls plug on health care bill.” Instead we have a headline loaded with emotional language that will prompt some readers to gloat and others to vow revenge.
Please, news media. Think hard about your own responsibility in creating our country’s polarized political culture. You’re only human. In some ways you merely reflect the rage already out there. But the Fourth Estate has a leadership role to play. We’re counting on you. We know your industry is struggling to survive changes technology has wrought, and we are pulling for you.