I was in Atlanta interviewing Civil Rights Leader, Xernona Clayton, when I received a text message that a plane was blown up over the Ukrainian skyline. Turning on the news later that evening, I was in disbelief at the way innocent lives could be slaughtered to justify political power. As I was viewing the carnage of Malaysia Airline flight MH17, I wanted to shut out the commentators and pundits but they were as much a part of the news coverage as the crash site itself.
As I listened to the possible links between pro-Russian rebels and the downing of the plane, I scrambled through my purse looking for a small journal I had written in back in March for a possible story about Russian President Vladimir Putin being glorified by several media pundits and cable network talking heads. The oddity of American pundits doing lap dances over Russia’s Putin was beyond crazy to me. “Do they not know he is a bad guy with big guns?” I wrote in large letters next to quotes by the talk show pundits. Their words in March came rushing back as I sat in disbelief that another Malaysian Airline tragedy is in the news again.
With the MH17’s wreckage being held hostage by the very rebels that international intelligence agencies sighted with a surface to air missile that was capable of bringing down a plane above 10,000 feet, the words and actions of the cable news pundits should be scrutinized just like other contributing factors to this horrific organized crisis.
When Vladimir Putin tested international peacekeeping by threatening to invade Ukraine, European leaders like Germany’s Angela Markel questioned Putin sanity and stated she believed for so time he was “living in another world.” Men who live in altered reality are notorious for wanting to be in the news cycle, for any reason. Contrast world leaders who have questioned Putin’s leadership and his determination to go to war with Ukraine with cable pundits and talking heads like half term Governor, Sarah Palin, and former New York Mayor, Ruby Giuliani, who actually praised Putin’s aggression in Europe calling him "a leader.”
During late February and early March when Putin’s allowed pro-Russian militants to rein terror in Ukraine, several U.S. media outlets’ talk show hosts stroked this mad man’s ego with statements like: “Russian has a real leader;” “He makes a quick decision and everyone reacts;” “Putin wrestle bears and drills for oil while our president wears mom jeans;” and “Putin tells the west and us that if you mess with me I will kill you all.” These words touted with glee by pundits a few months ago; ring with evilness when we see the bodies and personal effects strewn over a field in the Ukraine.
The nonstop praise of a tyrannical leader made by political opportunists who are dogged determined to show the weakness of the U.S. President is no longer political; it is deadly. Words have consequences. This praise of Putin came at the expense of the rest of the world and possibly the lives of 298 individuals. Putin being praised by American media pundits, makes an inflated ego with a dangerous world view, even more uncontrollable. If pundits love Putin as much as they have idolized him, can you imagine the praise they would have heaped on Hitler? When world leaders are dealing with more and more rebels with agendas who are hell bent on getting anything they want and will stop at nothing to get it, we must stop to see how our country’s toxic political punditry adds more poison to the brew.
Our country has moved from being a political divided country, to a country that pundits hold civility hostage while bedding politics to further fan the flames of any and every situation without being affected one way or the other by what comes out of their mouths. With our factless checking media, half of what the public is told are lies, and the other half are half truths. Pundits spin garbage without being challenged and are invited back night after night. When our pundits encourage our politicians to invade other countries, shut down the government or encourage the U.S. military to back the terrorists-of-the-day with weapons, the pundits' family or livelihood is not affected by their paid for rhetoric. They will get a check or a bonus because the very acts or actions they are commenting on feeds the propaganda they are getting paid to promote. The politicians who debates the weakness of the President, will never be president of any country, or county Mayor for that matter, so the decisions that are demanding or actions they are screaming to be taken comes with no accountability. Speaking of no accountability, remember Iraq's war hawks? They are back.
The war hawks who basically held our country’s hands right into Iraq, are now back on TV discussing Iraq. There is no record of any pundit who demanded war with Iraq having a child or grandchild on the battlefield. Iraq was one of the worst decisions made by our country and our children’s children will be repaying our debts, morally and financially, for the rest of their lives. Yet, recycled talking points that worked to get us into war then are back on TV. But this time, those irresponsible words that lead to deadly actions from previous years have consequences. The mess in Iraq today is the mess our government created when we invaded Iraq knowing there were no weapons of mass destruction.
Like the rush to invade Iraq, the praise of the Russia’s Vladimir Putin should be met with skepticism. The public should give a colonic examination of why would any pundit admire an oppressive dictator who ideas of democracy is not in line with our constitution that many pundits wrap around themselves like a holy shawl. It is time for avid viewers of news, progressives, independents, and conservatives, examine what is said and push back on narratives that are leading our country down dark alleys without exits. It is time for media outlets to be held accountable for who they put on their programs. Whatever happened to fair and balance? Words really have consequences.
Photo credits: LA Times, Reuters, AP
Photo credits: LA Times, Reuters, AP