The media is so biased that no one expects it to report honestly. But without media honesty, we lose touch with reality
Journalists like to present the media as the “watchdog of democracy.” Wikipedia describes this sort of journalism as “fact-checking statements of public officials, interviewing public figures and challenging them with problems or concerns,” and “investigative journalism, which involves information-gathering on a single story for a long period of time.” But what the media forgets to tell us is that this watchdog, like any other dog, guards only those who feed it. Once Hillary is gone they will not mourn her. They will be too busy looking for a new lord to feed them, a new master for whom to be the “watchdogs.”
Today’s media has become so openly biased that no one even expects it to report honestly. When The New York Times proudly announces its support for Hillary Clinton, who would be so gullible as to assume that their report is truthful, much less evenhanded? Or, when the press ignores the fact that President Obama knowingly used Hillary Clinton’s unclassified server and then lied about it, this is not “fact-checking statements of public officials,” and this is not a watchdog of democracy. This is simply a dog—loyal to its owner.
Another example of media manipulation of public attention concerns the economy. When voters clearly stated that the state of the economy was their number one concern, with a whopping 84% saying that it is “very important to them,” the media virtually ignored it. ABC, for example, gave twice the amount of air-time to the Brangelina divorce than to the US economy. Apparently, reporting about the economy is bad for the economy (of ABC), so they used the famed couple’s departure as a smokescreen to avoid discussing it. It may have let readers feel as though they live in Hollywood, but the issues that actually impact their lives remained unaddressed.
And what is true of domestic politics and the economy is just as true of foreign affairs. When CNN reported on “New security measures considered amid continuing violence in Israel” due to a spate of stabbings, shootings, and driving into crowds, it failed to mention that in all of these cases, the perpetrators were Palestinians and the victims were civilian Jews—men, women and children of all ages.
Living in a Bubble
The problem with biased reporting is that it disconnects us from reality. We often talk about financial bubbles, but we forget that we ourselves are living in one, created by the media. Today’s reporters are not judged (or hired) by their integrity or professionalism, but by their ability to verbally manipulate the readers’ views and emotions. They are less reporting events and more “selling” an angle on events that their executive editors and owners want to emphasize. To today’s press, the actual truth is meaningless.
Democracy pretends to give room for everyone to express themselves freely. It purports to enshrine freedom of speech, when in truth, the ruling elite—which grants business permits and regulates everything—allows the media to present only those views that serve its interests. It cannot be otherwise in a government whose people are motivated by self-entitlement.
If the media reported truthfully, we would realize that our situation is far worse than we thought. We would recognize that we are running in circles and getting nowhere. As we busy ourselves searching for the next immediate pleasure, we overlook the fact that we have been declining socially and economically for decades. We used to dream of raising a family in a house in the suburbs with a white picket fence around the yard and a car in the garage. Today, most Americans simply hope their children will be able to make a living in a world that is growing increasingly violent and inhospitable.
Tapping into the Middle Line
Now, finally, people are learning to distrust the press and search for the truth. But in my view, people will not find it because the journalists themselves have no knowledge of the truth. The truth, as any scientist will confirm, and as I have learned from my teachers—Baal Hasulam and the Rabash—is the way of union. You can only be right if you include both sides of an issue and explain how they merge into one. Interestingly, in Kabbalah, we call it the “three lines model,” which includes the “left line,” “right line,” and a resulting “middle line.” Only when you include both the right and left lines can you create the middle line, and this will be the truthful one.
Honest journalism can occur only where the two lines meet in the middle. Journalists are regarded as the public’s educators with good reason. Their influence on public opinion is enormous. However, if they don’t merit the status, they will cause the downfall of the country.
A transformation of this magnitude cannot happen overnight, but an awakening is already happening. Beyond the boastful demagoguery, Trump exposed some troubling truths about American society. Instead of the media quickly sweeping them under the rug the way it always does with inconvenient truths, it should air them out and talk about them openly. This should not be done in order to prove someone right and someone else wrong, but in order to create union above the problems. Difficulties should be treated like troubles in a loving family. Naturally, the whole family will search for a solution together. Each member will present a different angle, and the resulting solution will not be the complete acceptance of any one angle in specific, but will emerge naturally as family members share their thoughts and look for answers as a unit, rather than as conflicting parties.
If we look at nature, it is easy to see how conflicting forces create harmony. The taking and the giving in the animal kingdom is very evident. The harmony created when giving and taking merge results in what we call “life.” However, in the human society we lack the element of giving; we are driven solely by our egoistic desire to take. To get to the middle line, we must learn how to rise above our egos and connect to others, just as in the family allegory. The media—which thus far has promoted only the egoistic part of our nature—must now raise itself to the level of a real guide. It must introduce the middle line: the correct fusion of both sides of human nature.
Introducing Education for Connection
But we should not rely solely on the media to reform our society. For decades we have abandoned the education of our children and left it in the hands of the TV and internet. Consequently, today’s children reflect what they have absorbed since infancy—violence, deceit, and abuse.
Therefore, education must undergo reform, as well. It must begin to inculcate values instead of mere information. It must dedicate time to teaching how to practice positive human relations. When we leave school and go off to college or the job market, we may have acquired information, but we are utterly ignorant about forming healthy human relations. And yet, it is impossible to hold a job, sustain a family, or even nurture lasting friendships if we cannot form positive connections with people. Our schools leave out the most crucial element of adult life: our connections with others.
Changing our priorities must begin in elementary school, continue in high school, and all the way through college and the job market. It is a life-long learning process, but it is one whose fruits we will reap instantaneously and continuously.
In my book, Self Interest vs. Altruism in the Global Era, I elaborated on the ability of pro-social education to transform society. Harnessing the “right line,” the positive side of nature, to our benefit will balance our society. This force can lift us above the squalid public discourse created by the “free” press and introduce us into a reality of understanding and concern for one another.
Like it or not, the red and blue states are all in one country. But for America to thrive, it must become one nation. Only by merging left and right through the middle line that unites above differences, America will be great again.
Featured in Haaretz