For decades now the mainstream media has hidden behind the bullshit phrase “the public has a right to know.” It has always been bullshit because “right to know” does not equal “need to know.” I mean I listen to a lot of NPR and I’ve heard their news and shows actually utter the phrase “the public has a right to know” when talking about their coverage of a mass shooting. It’s really a disgraceful thing. The Fox K-G-Used-to-Be news network isn’t any better.
One could consider this post an extension of yesterday’s post about social media being human poison. It’s separate but related. Yes, NPR and PBS are non-profit, but salacious information keeps viewers and listeners glued to the broadcast, especially during pledge drives. Even not-for-profits focus on revenue generation. No, I’m not some worthless Ted Cruz piece of shit. I listen to a lot of NPR and generally only turn on WBBM News Radio 78 during the pledge drives. Unlike most of you reading this, I’ve even donated to NPR stations, especially WILL out of Champaign-Urbana.
Yesterday’s post was about “what” was wrong. Today’s post is all about “why” it is wrong and will never get fixed.
It’s all about the Benjamins
Yes, Puff Daddy had it right. Politics and everything around it is all about the Benjamins. Long ago, during one of the early mass shootings there was a police officer of some sort holding a news conference.
I’m not going to tell you the name of the shooter and I ask you, members of the press, to never publish his name or anything about him. That is the only way we stop this.paraphrased
I had to paraphrase that quote because when I searched for “I’m not going to tell you the name of the shooter” this is what came up.
What was truly disgusting and painted the picture for how this would go for years to come was that less than five minutes later every news outlet was announcing the name of the killer, his mother, and beginning to report on all of the mental health issues the killer had.
The American public did not need to know who the killer was or who his mother was. Law enforcement and mental health officials needed to know such things, but John, Joe, and Jane Q. Public did not. The salacious details, however, boost revenue and it’s really all about the Benjamins.
At times it feels like I’m the only one
I used to watch a lot of PBS NewsHour. At least on Fridays when they had Shields & Brooks. Somewhere in those archives you will find one episode after yet another shooting where David Brooks says
I believe we are the problem or a big part of it and we have to stop reporting on these things.Paraphrase of what David Brooks said
I couldn’t find the exact clip so had to paraphrase from memory. If I wanted to spend days watching every episode for the last 8-10 years I could probably find it. The closest I could come with a quick search was this very poignant statement about outsiders. Again, his words go back to my previous post on social media being human poison. Social medial does more damage than good so it has to be purged from both the stock markets and the Internet.
Hopefully you will play the segment and listen to Mr. Brooks talk about how they become radicalized. The pattern is known and social media accelerates the process. At any point in time in this (or any) country and you can find thousands of outcast individuals who are stewing and starting down the path. This has always been the case. We have always had the occasional serial killer and mass killer, but the count was always low because so few could “self-radicalize.”
It was nice to hear someone else say this.
Terrorist groups exploit this
ISIS, al-Qaeda, the Proud Boys, the Jan 6th Trump Terrorists, and every other terrorist group of any size exploit this pattern. They provide echo chambers to accelerate a person’s journey along this path. The online shrines to previous mass/school shooters and their forums/chat rooms provide an echo chamber.
Every one of them uses footage and clips from actual news media.
I spent close to twenty minutes searching for David Brooks segment where he basically said “the problem is us, we have to stop reporting on these things” and couldn’t find it with any search query. I did one search for Columbine and without even clicking in the article, the very first response showed both teens names in the snippet.
What Congress can do today is to make it illegal for any media outlet or blogger/media poster to publish/release the names of mass shooters and their families. They can also in the same law mandate that all such information be purged from Internet news sites and that libraries and other media archives must redact whatever they archive so the information is never available.
Any foreign media that wants access to the U.S. market must also comply.
The right to know myth feeds the echo chamber
This isn’t about “right to know” this is about “need to know.” Your race to generate revenue has created many machines that now churn out mass shooters and new members for terrorist organizations.
My God people! You have all seen the stories about terrorist organizations having suicide bombers record a video and for some number of weeks/months afterwards group members watch the video and revere them as a “living martyr.”
Many of the mass shooters want that kind of worship after death. They want the online shrines and worshipers like far too many of the previous ones got. They won’t have just 15 minutes of fame, they will live forever or so they believe.
One of the best ways to stop a forest fire is to take away its fuel. Congress can take away this fuel today. You can remove everything that would be in an echo chamber accelerating this journey. You can’t stop the person that “just snapped” with this law. That’s why we need the mental health screenings each and every school year. You can stop any online group from whipping someone up to the point they jump off the nutter diving board and go on a shooting spree.
People are gullible
Confidence men rely on this fact. You’ve all heard of or read about the “Death by Text” conviction. The kinds of people who can be convinced to join a terrorist organization or go on a shooting spree are the most gullible of all.
We have to take away the fuel for the fire.
No, new gun laws or even enforcing the ones on the books cannot fix this problem. The problem gets started by media raising revenue pursuing the salacious details of the person they are now trying to make famous because the more famous the more revenue, even if it is just pledge dollars.
Edit: 2022-05-30 – Summary
This isn’t just a “gun problem” despite how those grubbing for money will try to spin it. Back in 2005 we had a dog catcher that wanted to be the known as the greatest serial killer ever and the media played along with BTK. I didn’t even remember his name, but found it in one search.
The Internet and the archives need to be purged of this shit.
We need a series of laws such that the only way you can become famous killing a bunch of people is if your are a C-level executive that puts out unsafe product or creates something like the Opioid crisis. Every other killer will simply be shunned by society, the Internet, and the media archives. An Unperson.