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ICON Speaker Series – Richard Miniter lecture synopsis

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Good morning, and many thanks to all who were able to be at Richard Miniter’s talk on media bias on March 10.  The talk and the discussion were extremely interesting, so we thought we would summarize a few of the issues that were covered.  It is the intention of ICON to follow-up each event with an informal summary of some of the major issues that were brought up in the talk as well as in the discussions following the presentation, so you can look forward to hearing from us after events from now on.  Please do let us know your opinion of these summaries, and any way they can be improved.

Mr Miniter began with a question to the audience:  How many of us had been aware that Romney brought a dog on a trip in a cage on the car roof, and that for that he had been criticized for being thoughtless of his pet’s wellbeing?  (Lots of hands raised).  How many had been aware that Romney had has a close colleague whose young daughter had disappeared.  Romney had personally spearheaded an major emergency effort in another city which had successfully rescued the friend’s child from a life-threatening abduction from the Midwest to New York by a group of drug users?  (Few hands raised).  This was given as a great example of media bias, with the press’s almost complete failure to give Romney credit for the organization needed, the assertiveness he showed, the courage, and the recognition of the opportunity to use his skills in a pivotal moment.  Neither the girl nor her family were ever interviewed, and almost no mention was made of that dramatic rescue by Romney.

Another example Miniter gave of bias in the press is their encouragement of descriptions of Iranian development of atomic energy as being for peaceful needs, omitting to mention that they burn off the gas from wells rather than capture it, and have other ready sources of abundant energy.

When did commentators begin complaining that the media was rigging elections?  By or before 1933, with continuous complaints since then.  Nevertheless, all complaints and attempts to ensure a neutral press have been futile.   MRC is an organization devoted to naming media biases and attempting to shame the press into more even-handed reporting.  Futile.  Fox news?  That viewership is too low to count in general elections.  Fox has prime time viewers of about 3.1 million; MSNBC about 57,000; CNN about ½ million; CBS 15 million.  Blogging info is not successfully getting to low-info-voters.  These approaches are not working to educate our electorate.

Newspapers are failing us b/c they fail to understand their role in society.  They should be our eyes and ears, but instead dwell on trivia, plus omitting critical information.  The failure of reporters to follow a story is a major fault of that information system.  If other reporters have a standard explanation and story line, there is little effort to ensure accuracy or completeness.  Herd efforts and assumptions are extremely strong.  Newspapers are dying, and for three main reasons;  1.  Unions are extremely costly and so the manufactured product (newspapers) is in jeopardy.  2.  The management is terrible b/c the profit margin is so small that good management can’t be attracted.  3.  Newspapers fail to have the vision of what people want.  People want NEWS.  THIS need of newspapers for genuine news opens a major opportunity for Conservative reforms of the media.  The establishment bias is killing the press b/c people know that the newspapers are supporting a status quo that is flawed, and that news is not being sought and reported.  Newspapers NEED readers, and they NEED stories.  THIS is the opportunity.

Miniter commented on an event he witnessed.  He was covering the opening of a new water well in Kenya.  Also in the news was info that a local businessman was making a great deal of grant support to export gold, diamonds, and oil.  However, Kenya does not have those products to export, and the businessman was a scam artist.  Miniter asked other reporters who were present why they weren’t covering the story of the fraudulent export program, and the reporters said that they were there only for the opening of the well, and someone else should do that other story.  Nobody ever did.  The herd mentality dominated any decision about likely stories.  That effect was often commented upon regarding coverage of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars when noticing that reporters usually covered events primarily from local hotels.  The result was that all reporters submitted similar accounts of events, and TV audiences could see this for themselves in the evening news..

Miniter’s advice:  HELP PROVIDE OUTSOURCED NEWS to local newspapers.

Currently there are 88 groups that provide outsourced news to newspapers, and most are liberal.  That doesn’t have to remain the way it is.

Miniter started “American Media Institute”, and the stories generated by that conservative organization are being widely accepted.  Other groups can do this.  Write STORIES, not op-eds.  Writing news allows one to be on the offensive.  Example:  The Milwaukee DA has been investigating Gov Walker for 5 years without an indictment.  AMI reporter investigated, and the Milwaukee DA was politically motivated through pressure from his wife.  After that relationship was reported, the endless investigation was quietly closed.

How can local activists participate:  1.Writing circles, targeting an issue relentlessly and continuously; and 2. Conduct local investigations for small local papers.  These are papers that people actually read, and local news is always NEEDED.   Develop some contacts, scribble away, and provide content on areas that interest and concern you.

Please note and put on your calendar the next two events that are scheduled.  Tickets to both events are now available through the website www.iconlectureseries.com, and online through Eventbrite.

On June 16 Garland Tucker III will speak on: “Conservative Heroes.  Fourteen leaders who shaped America from Jefferson to Reagan.”  He will also be signing copies of his absolutely hot-off-the-press latest book, which is on the topic on which he is speaking.  Many may wish to purchase a signed copy, so please come with cash or checks.

On  September 15 John Guandolo will speak on “Shariah (Islamic Law).  The Force behind the Global Islamic Movement”.   His talks are always extremely important and draw a large audience, our space has limits on seating, so do not delay that purchase.

Click here for Richard’s Recommended Ten Steps for Changing How News Covers Politics

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