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Mainstream Reporters: Too Close to the Field and Teams to Get the Debt Story

By       Message Jeff Cohen       (Page 1 of 2 pages)     Permalink    (# of views)   1 comment

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If you were a spectator in a sky box seat looking directly down on the Washington debt debate, you'd be seeing a contest both narrow and off to one edge of the field -- like watching a football game being played entirely between the 10-yard line and the goal line.

The big items that added trillions to the debt are not even on the field of debate. Because the two teams are not contesting them.

** WARS:   When Obama expanded the Afghan war and asked for the largest military budget in world history, the GOP largely applauded.  It was bipartisan.

** BUSH TAX CUTS FOR THE WEALTHY:  Obama extended them in December

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** BANK BAILOUTS:  Bipartisan.  

** DECLINING TAX REVENUE:  Resulted from recession and financial meltdown caused by years of bipartisan (Reagan/Clinton) deregulation of Wall Street. And by big companies like General Electric (whose CEO is Obama's jobs chairman) dodging their taxes.

That's the broad view -- a perspective that sees our country in extreme debt and extremist "debate" because the leaders of the two teams collaborated in putting it there.

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But this would NOT be your view if you were a mainstream reporter. Because reporting in elite U.S. media is not so much about relaying obvious and important facts as it is about positioning.

It requires placing yourself equidistant between the two opposing teams.

It means your vantage point is not an elevated or broad view, but down on the field. At the 5-yard line.

From down on the field, you easily miss how the two teams had collaborated to push the game toward the edge. Instead, 

you see real rancor and animosity between the two teams.  You see differences in rhetoric and strategy. 

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From down on the field, you wouldn't want to irritate either side or you might get hurt yourself.

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Jeff Cohen was director of the Park Center for Independent Media at Ithaca College, where he was an associate professor of journalism. He founded the progressive media watch group FAIR.org in 1986.

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