Tuesday, August 02, 2005

21. What about investigative reporters - won't they be interested in my story of legal or judicial corruption?

This is another myth that people inherit from Hollywood movies and television - that stereotypical "investigative reporter", the brave man or woman eager to fight for the little person, and present the truth and help fight the rich and the powerful.

The reality is something else, however. Those kind of "investigative reporters" basically died out a long time ago, they were exterminated as the local media sources got bought up by the big conglomerates, and as America's media became increasingly part of the big machine that controls American life.

The people who are "investigative reporters" today in America, basically only start "investigating" more details about someone after the government initiates the process. The prosecutors tip off the reporters that they will be going after some person, and then the media will go chasing after details. But the government is nearly always the original source of a story.

What rarely happens, is where people come to a newspaper with proof of some crime that the government isn't prosecuting, and then the newspaper runs a big story to "expose" the wrongdoing. That happens very rarely now, and when it does, the target of the story is usually someone who has no political connections.

What basically never happens at all, is where the media starts running stories about crooked lawyers or judges, just because they have proof of crimes that those people have committed. You can present totally slam-dunk evidence of crimes involving a judge, and the American media won't touch the story. That's the way it is in America.

In modern America, "journalists" for the big media companies are people very submissive to their bosses. They know the unspoken "rules". Stories that violate the rules, don't get published or broadcast. And if the stories don't get published or broadcast, pretty soon the reporter is out of a job.

Since the ultimate bosses are the big corporations that own the media groups, it filters down very clearly to the staff what is supposed to be news and what is supposed to be ignored. They don't need to put things in writing, for the reporters to figure out how to kiss up to the bosses and company owners.

For some reason, people keep citing the old Watergate case, and the resignation of President Richard Nixon in 1974, as showing that America has a "great legal system" in which a President was shoved out of office because of the work of some "investigative reporters". But even that is neither accurate, nor a good example, for two reasons.

One is that this is an old story, more than 30 years old. Since then, the American legal system, and the corporate ownership of media companies, are both a lot worse than they were in the Watergate days.

But even more significantly, even this Watergate case, was really about how other factions in the American government wanted to get rid of Nixon, for various political reasons. The two reporters, Woodward and Bernstein, were themselves very well connected to other government officials, both in personal background, and in their attack against the Nixon presidency. The Watergate case, like nearly all other news in America, had its origins in the powers of government itself, not the so-called "investigative reporters".

The circus of political "news" in America is not about the common people, who are often crushed and ignored and thrown under the bus. The so-called news stories are more often about one part of government in petty bickering with another, playing a power game among themselves, while hiding the fact that the real needs of the people are ignored.

Click here to go back to the FAQ table of contents.