The headline said, “News organizations are largely to blame for it all.”

According to a guest column in The Daily News, “it all” is the coronavirus pandemic which has infected millions and as of today (April 21) has killed well over 40,000 Americans.

The same message could be heard on Fox News and from Rush Limbaugh and other right-wing commentators. The conservative Washington Times said in an editorial on April 5 that “a partisan media has weaponized the virus as a cudgel against the president.”

In order to believe this, one would have to believe nonsense — that the disease is not as bad as everyone claims and the danger is minimal. The families of those 40,000 dead, and the tens of thousands of dead to come, probably would disagree.

But the point I want to make, is this: Believing the anti-media conspiracy theory requires a total misunderstanding of what the media is and how it functions in 2020. Unfortunately, it’s a common misunderstanding, and it’s dangerous.

If one listens to Rush Limbaugh, the picture he draws is of a very powerful mainstream media controlled by a few elite voices, all of them lefties living in New York and Washington, except for a few clinging to the west coast.

That has never been an accurate picture of the media in America, and over the past 20 years, it has become a radically inaccurate picture.

There are about 1,200 daily newspapers left in America, more of them conservative than liberal.

As the number of newspapers has declined, there are literally millions of new media voices on the Internet, liberal and conservative, both responsible and highly irresponsible.

That growing cacophony reminds me of the Biblical story of Babel (Genesis, Chapter 11) in which God created language diversity to prevent people from assuming God-like powers. Babel comes from a Hebrew word meaning “confusion.”

People on the right see The New York Times as the ultimate “mainstream medium.” It’s the villain in almost every diatribe against the media.

But, truly, where does real media influence lie these days?

Fox News, staunchly right wing in its commentary, has been the most-watched cable news outlet for the last 18 years running. Second place isn’t even close, and it isn’t even a news network, it’s ESPN.

The most listened-to voice on American radio is not a liberal elitist, it’s Limbaugh.

And none of that even touches on the biggest change in communications over the last 20 years — social media.

By 2011, according to Pew Research data, 80 percent of Americans were online and 60 percent of them got a large portion of their news from social media. Nineteen percent of the country reported getting their news from Facebook, Google or LinkedIn — nearly 60 million people.

By 2016, Pew reports that 57 percent of American got most of their news from TV (broadcast and cable) and 38 percent reported getting most of their news from online sources, especially social media.

Just two in 10 Americans got most of their news from those “liberal” newspapers.

The New York Times has roughly 3.5 million digital and print subscribers these days. That’s the most of any newspaper. Its editorials have, in fact, criticized President Donald Trump’s handling of the pandemic. But does it have the power to create a pandemic that does not exist?

If you are looking for the name of the most powerful media voice in the world today, it is a name you heard yesterday and will surely hear sometime today. That name would be none other than Donald J. Trump.

He has 78 million Twitter followers. He receives more free news coverage than any politician in history. Trump is a media colossus unequaled in human history.

Whatever The New York Times might say is a sigh compared to his hurricane.

Dolph Tillotson is the retired president of Southern Newspapers Inc., the parent company of The Facts. He was raised in Alabama and is former publisher of the Galveston County Daily News.

Recommended for you

(9) entries

Bulldog

Hogwash. More to come when I'm fully awake

Bulldog

The writer of this jibberish would have you believe that these "print" newspaper have a minuscule following because they are newspaper when in fact their viewership is much larger when you consider their online news. But pay no attention to that man behind the curtain. All you have to do is watch the reporters at President Trump's daily briefing. All they want to do is attack. Also look at how the headlines read. They are very antagonistic towards the president. The mainstream media is more aligned with China than our fellow Americans.

jmilner007

Open your Yahoo home page and even though I have checked the box less from news organizations like this it is still full of nothing but anti Trump stories. NEVER a positive headline on Trump and his administration.

Father of Six

So I can assume you were against stopping travel to and from China before you were for it. And I assume you believe President Trump is a racist for calling it the Chinese flu. I'm just tired of hearing that everything the President does is wrong and racist. The way they treat the First Lady is disgusting and shameful. Mr.Tillotson if you really feel a need to lecture us, you should reference the New Testament and Titus in particular.

Father of Six

Oh, there's a lot in there about how we should treat our elected leaders.

natives5

Just curious, did you apply the teachings of the Book of Titus and the treatment of our elected leaders to President Obama? Will you have the same feelings if Biden wins?

Father of Six

Yes I did. I truley disliked his policies but have always said I would rather meet him than President Trump.

natives5

I can respect that.

sailfish

Blah, blah, blah. Just another member of the mainstream media defending his bread and butter, with a few insults to Conservatives thrown in for good measure.

Sign the guestbook.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.