In 1978 I walked out of ULM with a diploma and family in hand, boarded a plane and left for my new job in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia. What a change a few years makes.
When I departed America the most news that I could obtain was from newspapers, radio and the three national television networks. I was a news junkie and when in Arabia the best we could expect was given to us daily on an 8X14 inch sheet of paper covered with 6 pt. font. Then in 1980 on my second vacation back to America I was greeted with a surprise. CNN had launched a 24-hour cable news network while ESPN was broadcasting non-stop sports coverage. Ted Turner’s CNN filled a niche in the cable market and I felt that I was in “Hog Heaven” every time I returned on vacation.
By the mid-1980s I was working for a loanee from Chevron. He had been in the oil and gas industry for over 30 years and was a Navy cruiser commander during World War II. We were having a discussion and he brought up how news coverage had become biased and full of commentary. He noted that only the British Broadcasting Company read the news and left the interpretation to the individual listener. I personally didn’t understand what was being said, after all the stations were American networks and all simply told the news of the world and the commentaries were there to help us understand that the news was telling us. Later I realized what he was saying.
In 1990 Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait and the largest military build-up since D-Day took place. I came home for Christmas and remained glued to CNN and the other networks. Then three weeks following my return to Arabia the world turned upside down. In the early morning hours of January 17th, Mideast time, the coalition forces launched the air-strike that was dubbed Operation Desert Storm. All networks were broadcasting from Baghdad but CNN cornered the market. The first air strikes hit the Iraqi Communication Building. During the morning hours CNN reported that Sad dam Hussein was alive and had been seen in the communication building while CNN was making repairs to the facilities to allow it to transmit its’ coverage. This left me a little perplexed as America had just bombed the facilities and now an American news station was making repairs. Later the three main networks were expelled from Baghdad but CNN remained for several more weeks. After getting out of the country they were asked to be debriefed by the U.S. military but declined and declared that news confidentiality did not require the correspondents to be interrogated. I scratched my head. CNN’s Peter Arnett had some negative comments placed on him due to coverage of a supposedly bombed milk factory and which led to some anti-patriotic labeling of Arnett.
Thirty years later and media bias is present everywhere we look. Our president has not made it easy on himself as he labeled media coverage as fake news. Much of this fake news has been biased and not simply the facts. Too much commentary is interjected and the sensationalism is at a fever pitch. While the president doesn’t help himself with some of his comments, his plight is anything but amicable. For several months beginning in December there were no White House Press Briefings. The press was outspoken that the President was not communicating. Then when the COVID-19 pandemic appeared, there were daily briefings. Soon CNN was declaring there were too many briefings and too long. The briefings were cut short and again CNN complained about that. Recently President Trump said very little and the CNN anchor declared that the President of the United States was “Chicken”. It is now apparent that CNN is not interested in news coverage but instead has a personal vendetta against the Trump administration.
It is so very important that we pull together as a nation. It is more important that we succeed as a unified country. We must get over the biased images that our press perpetuates and instead propose a unified coalition that will pull together to rebuild our tattered economy. When I hear anchors such as CNN’s Don Lemon reference “Old White Men” in their commentary, my blood boils. To stereotype me and other noble men across America in such a racist and biased manner does nothing more than divide our great nation.
There were two items last week that may show progress in unbiased news coverage. Jack Tapper of CNN hit a nerve with Democrat Nancy Pelosi causing her to snap back at his question. Then Mika Brzezinski from the liberal network, MSNBC, interviewed Joe Biden and discussed the sexual assault allegations levied against him. Some thought she would hold a cake walk interview. The interview was anything but and Biden was rocked back on his heels.
Now, these two small incidents plus the apology by a Yahoo Reporter who referenced incorrect test data, provides an opportunity for the president’s administration to make a positive statement and instead of attacking the press, provide a more open and positive dialogue.
Come on CNN and come on Mr. President, let’s get this country to grow over the next 18 months like it has never grown before.
God bless America.
Tuffy Fields may be reached by emailing thelouisianaexplorer@ yahoo.com.