The American Press: Our Third Political Party

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This is an unusual election year, because many felt that both of our presumed candidates are flawed. Many people started to clamor for a third party. Recent polls reported that about 55% of Americans wish for a third party. (A detailed discussion on the poll results was published by iPatriot, authored by Randy Deabay on July 10, 2016, for anyone who wants more information on the polls and possible ramification of the results.) We all know the identity of the two major political parties in America- Democratic and Republican. On the surface it appears as if political affiliation is limited to the two above. Members of either party are responsible for legislations that govern our day-to-day activities. Periodically one of them even ascends to the White House every four years and becomes the “most powerful politician” on the planet. Since most of them are lawyers, they tend to determine members of the courts (the Supreme Court being the most notable) who regulate what we do, when we do it, how and with whom we do it. Although pledged independence, the judges sometime legislate from the bench, thus becoming members of either of the two parties.

The founding fathers created the court to serve as an umpire in a game involving the legislative and executive branches of the governments at all levels, but because of individual experiences and personal prejudices, the judges have essentially assume the role of veto-proof legislators. Despite that inherent power, the courts are just integral parts of the Democratic and Republican Parties, not a third party. Like the Democrats and Republicans, some of the judges are unashamed liberals while others are unabashed conservatives, just as we have among the legislators and the executive.

Although most will like us to believe otherwise, because it is not as obvious to the American electorates, the third political party in America today is the ‘Press Party’. The Press has no publicly published agenda or platform, but every member of the party sticks to the agenda. The Press complained about money in politics although the lion share of campaign budget goes to various networks as campaign ads. Members of the Press profess to be moderators of political discourse, but each maintains his or her own personal and group agenda as needed to promote individual careers. Based on its leaning, one could easily conclude that the Press Party has cast its lot with the Democrats. The presidential election year made the prejudice of the American Press Party more glaring. Invariably the Press tends to be more critical of a candidate it doesn’t like (vis-à-vis Donald Trump) for whatever the reason and ignore the failings of the preferred one (vis-à-vis Hillary Clinton.) Although the trend had been going on for sometime, this election cycle is worse than others. One reporter says something and others just repeat the same as if in an echo chamber. They all say the same thing either as a sign of laziness, which shows that most are not willing to do their own research for more information about an issue, or simply because they all think alike. In like doing their actions oftentimes foment violence in the society and their network gets the loot in form of higher viewership and rating.

Gone were the days of Walter Cronkite with his “and that’s the way it is”, David Brinkley, Eric Sevareid, Edward Murrow or Peter Jennings, when the press existed to report the news and allowed the audience to analyze the reports based on individual’s conviction and political prejudices. Suddenly, we gave up Walter Cronkite for the likes of Dan Rather, Brian Williams or Tom Brokaw, news anchormen with obvious agenda and biases who even attempted to exploit their positions of eminence to try to change the political dynamics of national elections. We cannot even talk of the likes of George Stephanopoulos, a political operative masquerading as a journalist. Whereas most Americans believed and respected Walter Cronkite when he told us that it was the way he had just reported an event, today’s Press ranks with the Congress at the bottom of national popularity. And the press could easily fall behind the Congress if not for the constant drumbeats meant to convince the public that a particular network is more believable and that what it does is for our benefits, as each network claims one kind of superiority over the others. Many reporters will hide behind ‘anonymous sources’ in an attempt to claim legitimacy for their untrue narratives. There had been cases when some lied or embellished stories just to make themselves more significant or important.

The Founding Fathers gave the Press a special role to sustain our Republic. The First Amendment gave the Press freedom, not particularly for the benefits of the Press, but for the electorate to be adequately informed about what the elected are doing either for our good or ill. Unfortunately, most members of the Press have no self-control as to how much they promote their own hidden agenda. No wonder many had written an obituary of American journalism. As a result alternatives such as Rush Limbaugh, Brian Thomas, Sean Hannity and the Internet sites, have become so popular. Although these are neither the Press in the classical sense, they have become mainstream from where a sizeable percentage of the population obtain information. I wonder what those founding fathers would think of the degenerate American Press of today. So there is one thing that most Republican candidates running for public offices must bear in mind: That they are running against two political parties and so must be ready for unusual attacks by the Press. That may be one reason for Trump’s success. Unlike John McCain who tried to be the darling of the Press until he became the Republican candidate in 2008, Trump took on the Press from the onset. Many pundits predicted his demise, but he triumphed. I hope future Republican candidates learn this lesson. It may be the missing ingredients that had prevented many Republican candidates from achieving their political successes.

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The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author and are not not necessarily either shared or endorsed by iPatriot.com.

Bode Olakanmi

Author: The Cradle and the Bed www.strategicbookpublishing.com/TheCradleAndTheBed.html. A biweekly columnist for Daily Iowan for three years, in Iowa City, IA. I am a recently retired biomedical researcher from the University of Cincinnati.

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