I'm Sick of The So-Called "News"

I'm sick of the so-called "news" in this country. If you turn on MSNBC or CNN any morning, all you'll hear is the hosts and guests arguing about the latest absurd thing that Donald Trump has said.

On Monday, Trump laid out his economic plan, but the media ignored the details and the fact that his plan is Voodoo Economics 2.0, and they instead focused on the fact that he called Hillary Clinton unfit to serve as president.

On Tuesday, the networks focused on the fact that dozens of establishment Republicans and national security advisers had signed a letter calling Trump dangerous, but, again, never mentioned issues, just personality.

By Wednesday, Trump had broken new ground by apparently encouraging "2nd amendment people" to assassinate Hillary Clinton or her Supreme Court nominees.

And today, if you were to turn on any of the 24 hour stations you'd know that Trump declared last night that Obama literally founded ISIL.

Honestly, it doesn't matter what day of the week or what time of day a person tunes into the 24 hour news networks, he or she can always find out the latest vapid and boorish insult that's spewed from Donald Trump's lips.

The problem is… it isn't news!

It's nothing but pure infotainment.

The corporate commercial networks are much, much happier presenting personal drama in the form of packaged infotainment and faux outrage rather than any sort of programming in the public interest.

This isn't just me saying this either, I've put this challenge to my radio listeners for the past several weeks: if any listener can find a moment where CNN or MSNBC has hosted a real substantive policy discussion on any significant issue, we'll reward that listener with a copy of one of my books of their choosing.

So, how many books have we given away?

Zero, zilch, none.

It's not because the candidates aren't saying things that are worth serious discussion, it's because the so-called "news" refuses to cover those things.

On Monday for instance, Trump basically presented Paul Ryan's House Republican economic plan as his own, but Trump is still claiming that he wants to protect Social Security and Medicare, even though the Republican party has been openly working for decades to gut both programs.

These are important issues that Americans care about, but you haven't heard any host on the 24 hour news networks confront a Trump supporter about how the GOP and Trump at least appear to disagree on the issues of Social Security or Medicare.

When Hillary Clinton gives speeches, it's one policy position after another, and she lays out her visions with a substantial amount of detail.

But after the speech is over and it's time for CNN and MSNBC to discuss it, you don't hear soundbites about rebuilding our roads, water and sewage systems on MSNBC or CNN.

No, despite the fact that average Americans care about rebuilding our roads and water systems, it's a relatively "boring" topic, so you're much more likely to hear this soundbite. The corporate media drives viewership and profits by airing personal drama over public policy, and the end result is that viewers turn off the TV at the end of the day as ill-informed as they were when they tuned in.

There's no silver bullet for this problem, because this crisis in our media is the result of over 40 years of conservative policies that have radically altered our news media .

One problem is that corporate commercial broadcasters don't have any reason to talk in-depth about real issues, their only aim is to get more viewers so that they can get more advertisers, CBS chief Les Moonves made that unsettlingly clear during the primaries last year.

Another problem is that groups like Northrop Grumman, the American Petroleum Institute, and the Pete Peterson Foundation buy the ad spots, so networks don't want to talk about reining in the military industrial complex, or the realities of human-made climate change, or about the popularity and success of Social Security that Peterson wants to privatize to his buddies on Wall Street.

Likewise, anti-union telecom giants like Comcast and Verizon don't just own the broadband infrastructure, Comcast actually owns MSNBC!, so you're unlikely to hear anything of substance about any real labor issues, or net neutrality, or about the Transpacific Partnership which they and/or their trade groups and lobbyists helped negotiate.

Step one to fixing this problem is to break up the telecom and media monopolies that rapidly formed after Bill Clinton signed the Telecommunications Act of 1996, and we need to demand that they require broadcasters to cover issues fairly and in the public interest, to provide real news.

It's reached the point where the stranglehold that multinational corporations have over our media is actually harming our ability to have a functioning democratic republic.

And that requires us all to wake up and demand some real changes to our media landscape.


TimFromLA 7 years 44 weeks ago

Well Thom, that's why there is Democracy Now! for example as a great source of news.

Council 5's picture
Council 5 7 years 44 weeks ago

Tom; for once I TOTALLY agree with you, both CNN and MSNBC put a lot of time covering every stupid comment Trump makes, he is playing them like a drum why should he pay for adversiting when he can push Clinton out of the news and broadcast to his minions for free.

Mark J. Saulys's picture
Mark J. Saulys 7 years 44 weeks ago

TimfromLA, Democracy Now! gets very limited access. Very few people know about it or or are likely to ever hear about it. It isn't the solution.

cspan2 7 years 44 weeks ago

If I remember correctly the C-Span channels are the new "fairness doctrine." Don't these channels exist as a result of cable networks being granted licenses? If so, why can't the formula be changed? Why not make a higher mandatory fee for every network that finances an independent news station devoted to issues, local and national, with no commercials. Something like a weather channel for politics.

dr818dr's picture
dr818dr 7 years 44 weeks ago

This is why we are stuck with these two people running for presidemt. You can point at CNN and MSNBC but all of the media is like this on almost every issue. I' not defending Trump but if you read the LA Times every day you wouldn't even know that Clinton was running. It all Trump idiocy all the time.

Just because Clinton is more polished and not physco doesn't mean she's not just as dangerous. She is corrupt and a pathological liar. She wants to be the first woman president she is saying anything that will get he some votes.

Despite being a lifelong Democrat I will probably vote for Gary Johnson. Not because I agree with his policies but I look at him as a safe placeholder until 2020 when maybe we will actually run candidates that are qualified to be president. I know that is wishful thinking but at this point that's all we have.

Greg Kramer's picture
Greg Kramer 7 years 44 weeks ago
  1. In addition to MSNBC and CNN, I challenge readers to find multiple and serious articles on a daily basis about HRC and Trump in the New York Times or in your local paper regarding the following contests and if applicable this election cycle:
  2. Senator
  3. House
  4. Assembly
  5. State Senator
  6. Governor
  7. County
  8. School District
  9. City Council
  10. School Board
  11. Propositions

I live in Northern Nevada. I bring this up because a recognized journalist, namely Jon Ralston and that covers state politics aggressively, can be "tough" on politicians at the state and local levels but not disrespectful was cancelled first and about a year ago from a private broadcasting company in Las Vegas that was also aired in Reno, NV; and after the cancellation the local PBS affiliate in Reno picked him up but also cancelled it after approximately six months of broadcasting.

Why? In both instances, they both cited lack of viewers. If accurate, what does that say about the State of Nevada and their collective political acumen and interest in state and local issues?

If both stations are obfuscating at best or worst intentionally deceiving viewers what does that say about the state of broadcast journalism in Nevada?

Both questions are rhetorical.

BoxCar's picture
BoxCar 7 years 44 weeks ago

Unfortunatly some of what Trump says is true> The Game is Rigged, the Fight is Fixed, the Dice R Loaded, in short US 2-party System is Totally CORRUPT so now there's no difference between a 1-party Communist System & USA "Democrapic" 2-party system for in both cases its the "System" that gets 100% of the vote; so its "Mox Nix Suckers"

Myself I became CYNICAL when US Media tried to tell me a Junkie BOLT-ACTION carbine w/a clam-shell clamped optic was used to shoot JFK> Now we know James Files shot JFK w/a Remington XP-100 Fireball high velocity pistol aimed just above right eye. IF he had hit the eye it would appear to come from front. But I know from VietNam war that when a person is struck from behind the head by a bullet HIS EYES EXIT the skull cavity to hang out upon his cheeks> Didn't happen to JFK did it? DUH! In short the concept of "AMERICA" IS A BIG bald assed Corporate LIE now

Scotty11 7 years 44 weeks ago

I started by heading to msnbc...dang...no free book for me.

Though I did release some frustration with the following email...I wonder if their robot will read it?

I took up Thom Hartmann on his challenge:

if any listener can find a moment where CNN or MSNBC has hosted a real substantive policy discussion on any significant issue, we'll reward that listener with a copy of one of my books of their choosing.

I couldn’t find one…

What’s on Obama’s playlist?

Reagan’s daughter responding to Trump comments?

Trump misses 2 openings to attack Clinton…exciting stuff.

Ahhh…where is the comparison of the stances of the top 3-4 parties on issues of import? Not ‘Is Trump’s hair real’?...rather who is for against what…e.g.

TTP, Fracking, building the wall, gun control, privatizing SS

Or how about an expose on how Trump uses Contractors to hire the (il)legal aliens who clean the rooms in his casino and hotels?

Or how about ‘what it really means that Clinton used a private email account’.

Oh…that’s news…you’re infotainment.

And I’m out a free book

Regards, Scotty

2950-10K's picture
2950-10K 7 years 44 weeks ago

Thom just said it all.....In my opinion he has spelled out the biggest problem our representative democracy faces. The news media is supposed to be the unofficial fourth branch of government, an adversarial function meant to keep the other three branches under honest scrutiny.

Instead we have a massive weapon of misinformation, a propaganda machine set up to benefit the big monied few who wield the real power in this country. Tonight on NBC network news for example, not a single word about Clinton's economic speech. However Trump was successful in redirecting attention away from his call for assassination by claiming Obama and Clinton head up the ISIS movement.

Uncle Ralph's picture
Uncle Ralph 7 years 44 weeks ago

I knew there was something fishy late last year when my brother told me that 7,000 people were turned away from a Bernie rally in Portland, OR. Not 7,000 people showed up, 7,000 more than the venue would hold showed up. This was not reported by any media outlets including NPR or PBS. I heard from the pro-Bernie folks here in Albuquerque that the same thing had happened in other towns: record turnouts went completely unreported.

Meanwhile, the media---all of the media---were living by every word that procedeth from the mouth of Trump, not because his words were substantive, but because they were monumentally dumb-ass. He (Trump) could call a Sunday morning "news" show and be put on the air instantly in real time, in the hopes that he would say something that the second biggest ass-hat on the planet (whoever that is) wouldn't dream of saying.

The US media---all of it---should be ashamed.

dds's picture
dds 7 years 44 weeks ago

R U saying that was the subject on FOX or Flush Limbaugh, how bout Glen Beck /

PowerToThePeople 7 years 44 weeks ago

"And that requires us all to wake up and demand some real changes to our media landscape."- Thom Hartmann

I agree with everything you said, Thom. But how do we "demand" that the media do a better job reporting on issues that affect the lives of regular working class Americans? Or else what?

What they're doing now brings them the most profits. Everything is about profits now, Thom - you should know that by now.

That's also why we have runaway global warming. Nothing is going to stop that either, no matter how much we complain and no matter what the consequences are.

We. Are. Screwed. In multiple ways. Some people don't like to hear that, but it's the truth. Homo Sapiens is a severely psychologically flawed species - so flawed that we will eventually destroy ourselves.

So eat, drink, and be merry, because our end really is near.

Magginkatz's picture
Magginkatz 7 years 44 weeks ago

I have never understood why so many people in forums are constantly posting garbage about Hillary Clinton, like your comment, "She is corrupt and a pathological liar". Can you give any sources other than right wing, hate mongering sites about her supposed corruption or that she is a pathological liar?

Here's an excellent article about Hillary Clinton. Why not take the time to read it. The writer mentions what you say as well as other tales about her.....It also tells the truth, with sources.

The most thorough, profound and moving defense of Hillary Clinton I have ever seen. http://bit.ly/263um9m

cccccttttt 7 years 44 weeks ago

In the current economic system, the only goals of a news business are to

1. Obey the law (not spirit, but letter)


So why the surprise over the quality and focus of US news coverage?


Kpax's picture
Kpax 7 years 44 weeks ago


I have been watching you since Portland. You could even say I have been addicted to watching your show. Nowadays, I haven't been so inclined. (I won't touch on the disappointment of the democratic side of things.)

You can not begin to bitch about other media sources that continuously talk about Drumph!

Look back on your last, ( oh?,) I don't know...year! You constantly talk about the buffoon! I'm so sick of hearing YOU talk about this idiot! I haven't watched your show nearly, as dearly, as I use too. I'm over the Drumph B.S. And hearing you advertise for him almost as much as the main stream media? It's been a real let down.

Obviously, I check out the blogs on your site and make comments but it's somehow different watching your show. Maybe I'm outgrowing you? I'm not trying to be sarcastic but it just isn't the good feeling from you that I once held in such high esteem.

All I can suggest is be careful of hypocrisy vs a stance!


Kpax's picture
Kpax 7 years 44 weeks ago

One more thing Thom, if you can't respond to your viewers here on your own blog then what's the point of having us comment?

Hephaestus's picture
Hephaestus 7 years 44 weeks ago

The dumbing down is working folks!!!

OrgDevGuy's picture
OrgDevGuy 7 years 44 weeks ago

"The news has been cancelled."

The sad fact is that if it can't be summed up in a 15 or 20 second sound bite or video clip, broadcast simply doesn't cover it. Anything that requires actual reporting, that isn't black-and-white (binary) but rather shades of gray, that requires actual thought or the exploration of complexity, simply doesn't get covered.

Legend 7 years 44 weeks ago

The main stream media is owned and operated by the 1%. You hear what they want you to hear. You do not hear what they do not want you to hear.

Intermittent Instigator's picture
Intermittent In... 7 years 44 weeks ago

Just because the Revolution might not be televised doesn't mean it's been cancelled.

So what if Donald Trump gets more airtime than Jill Stein, Gary Johnson, or anyone else?

changeX's picture
changeX 7 years 44 weeks ago

RT America is a good place to keep up to date with unbiased news.

Mark J. Saulys's picture
Mark J. Saulys 7 years 44 weeks ago

Magginkatz, the e are many left and left-center sources who ca Clinton corrupt and a pathological liar. One doesn't even need sources, one news.

Mark J. Saulys's picture
Mark J. Saulys 7 years 44 weeks ago

Magginkatz, the e are many left and left-center sources who ca Clinton corrupt and a pathological liar. One doesn't even need sources, one news.

Mark J. Saulys's picture
Mark J. Saulys 7 years 44 weeks ago

You aren't one of these, are you, Magginkatz?

Mark J. Saulys's picture
Mark J. Saulys 7 years 44 weeks ago

Have a nice day

Bryguy's picture
Bryguy 7 years 44 weeks ago

A vote for Gary Johnson's Libertarian policies is a vote for capitalist anarchy! The human is fundamentally hypocritical. It's a character flaw originating within our DNA, originally aiding our survival. Humans have kown this for thousands of years; therefore, some among us created death of a cross and the hope fulfilled through grace. So I guess my point is that there is a difference between being a motivated ambitious politically engaged person with as many faults as every other human and the perceptions one might have of that same individual having been demonized, lied about and transformed into a mythological societal shadow over thirty years. I think Ted Cruz said it best, "vote your conscience." We might be better served understanding when our conscience reflects giving up, when we are voting against the best interests of the many such that the goals of the very few might continue unabated.

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