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5 Apr, 2010 06:55

The most trusted journalist in America now is a comedian – media critic

Most of the original reporting in the US is still being made by newspapers, the dying media, says Rory O’Connor, a media critic, journalist and filmmaker, yet they are quickly on the decline.

“There are fewer and fewer journalists working for newspapers and magazines which means there are less and less original reporting upon all of the commentaries we see in the blogosphere, in cable television,” O’Connor remarks.

When commenting on what he believes are the worst hate-talkers in America, such as Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, Bill O’Reilly, Sean Hannity, O’Connor said, “There is no place in American society to have a disagreement, particularly with the shock jocks on talk radio, on people’s ethnicity, on their religion, on their gender. What we find is that the shock jocks in particular are going after the most vulnerable members and sectors of our society,” states O’Connor. “[The US media is] an oral equivalent of driving in a highway and seeing an accident. Everybody says they are not going to look, but everybody does. You can’t take your eyes off of it.” The media can gain a large audience by being outrageous, by being extreme. The other thing, O’Connor believes, is that they are entertaining, yet still acting as journalists, so the audience thinks that they are getting real information from these people.

“Money has infected the entire American political system and our democracy is threatened by it,” the media critic observes. “Here is how it works – in order to be elected you need a lot of money to buy television and to buy all the media you need. So the politicians go and they ask corporations for money. The corporations give them money. Then the politician turns around and passes legislation on putting regulations that give even more money back to the corporations. 4.2 billion dollars every year is spent on advertising direct-to-consumer. This was the gift to the media and to the communications industry by the Democratic Party in exchange for support.”

O’Connor believes that this practice is producing a lot of misinformation, a lot of false hopes to people. There is advertising on US television for made-up drugs for made-up diseases, which is bad for health and also it is driving up health care costs, O’Connor states.

“When I watch the mainstream media I tend to throw things at my television set, so I try not to watch it that often,” the filmmaker confesses. “I don’t want to be all doom and gloom and say there is nothing good in the mainstream – there is. But I think that we have a big problem in this country when the most trusted news person in the country is a comedian named Jon Stewart. And I think it tells us a lot about our system when the comedians are more trusted than the journalists, and the journalists are functioning as comedians and clowns. That what needs to change.”