I stopped at my in-laws’ place on the way back to Utah from my hometown in Idaho last Friday, and had a very nice lunch and conversation with them.

My father-in-law, Douglas Wareing, has taught music at various school levels — mostly high school — for many, many years.

Douglas Wareing

He’s about 84 years old, and he still leads an adult jazz band in Idaho Falls.  He gets around like someone much, much younger.  He even traveled to my hometown — a three-hour drive one way from his home — and back (all in the same night) after setting up his jazz band for a concert last summer, playing the show, and heading back home.  Again … all … in … the … same … day.

The man just doesn’t know how to slow down, bless his heart.

Doug’s real love, besides music and his beloved jazz, is government.  He taught that too.  And he LLLLLLOOOOVES talking politics.

Doug may live in the conservative hotbed of Idaho, but he’s a liberal through and through.  He and I haven’t ALWAYS seen eye to eye on some issues, but on a large majority of things we do agree.

Somehow, during a wide-ranging discussion of topics in the 1-1 1/2 hours I was there on Friday, Doug and my mother-in-law Barb (you can see part of her lovely face in the photo above) got into the topic of how the major national news media and national reporters for the most part just don’t seem to ask the tough questions of our nation’s leaders.

I spent 16 years in the journalism business.  I was trained in it from a pretty young age in my teens.  I’m more “old-school,” remembering the glory days of Cronkite, Huntley and Brinkley, admiring guys like Woodward and Bernstein and Murrow.  I know a thing or two about the business, I’ve seen more experiences out of it than I care to remember at times.

Bo Gritz (rhymes with "rights")

I knew how to ask tough questions, even to a radical right-wing presidential candidate like Bo Gritz in a crowded room filled with his supporters and book-buyers, and I ended up getting totally ignored after asking one question.  I even had one of his supporters write to me at the newspaper where I was the managing editor and tell me I basically nailed the guy with one question, and how rude it was of him to ignore my questioning the rest of the way.

You see, I had some inside information on what Bo Gritz was really all about.  Basically, he was all about selling his books.  That was his money-maker, and a Populist Party run for president was his gimmick.  I knew what he was like, because an uncle who was a colonel in the Air Force knew him from their Vietnam days. Gritz was all show(-off), right down to all those medals in his promo pictures.

Hey, at least I woke up one supporter in that Gritz crowd.  That’s something you never forget.  And, really, I’m not bragging.  This is a true story.

I agreed with my father-in-law that, for the most part, the national news media is lame when it comes to asking tough questions.  I related my thoughts that I’ve shared before in this very blog (see related story below) about how disappointed I was in a show like “Meet The Press” that I once respected for its hard-hitting questioning, and how its methods seem to have totally changed.

In old-school journalism — or at least old-school “Meet The Press” — you’d put Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) toe-to-toe against conservative who-knows-what-he-does-but-he-seems-to-run-the-country Grover Norquist on the same set at the same time and have them battle things out.  But “Meet The Press” moderator David Gregory or whoever calls the shots for him has totally changed the format.  The guests appear one at a time, little to no really tough questioning (I had to turn off the show last Sunday after the first 15 minutes after Newt Gingrich danced around the questioning, I was starting to feel physically ill), with Schumer being on first and Norquist getting the last word.

Liberal first, conservative last word.  Quite a pattern.  And this is on NBC, one of those “evil members of the liberally biased media,” just like CBS, ABC, MSNBC (with conservative Joe Scarborough in the morning).

I call “bull” on that liberal bias crap.  Our national television media today has largely been reduced to entertainment-based news at best (Lindsay Lohan in and out of rehab, Alec Baldwin getting kicked off a plane, etc.), seems too timid to ask tough questions on real stories at worst.  And when it’s not about entertainment and timidity, it’s sensationalistic.

Opinion has become fact.  Feelings rule the day over hard information.

I just had to shoot a photo of this sign at a rest stop in northern Utah for some reason

That’s today’s national media, whether it’s on the TV or talk radio or the internet.  I am bombarded with conservative talk shows on the radio in Utah.  I have yet to hear a liberal talk radio show in Utah.  It was so refreshing to hear some more liberal talk radio in the Bay Area a few weeks ago WHERE THEY ACTUALLY PLAYED AUDIO CLIPS OF OUR NATION’S PRESIDENT GIVING A SPEECH IN THEIR ENTIRETY, TOTALLY IN CONTEXT!!!  WOOHOO!!!  In Utah, when it comes to talk radio, it’s not “Life Elevated.”  It’s “Live Conservative.”

Why does the national media find it so hard to ask tough questions?  Why does the national media find it so hard to understand what something like the Occupy movement is all about, and it leaves the viewing public to assume it’s all just a bunch of low-life freaks doing the protesting?  Why does the national media seem to insist on turning the Occupy movement into some kind of aimless “freak show” when Tea Party rallies were treated with more respect by a majority of the national media?

I’ll tell you why:  the major news outlets are owned by corporations, and it’s those corporations who often call the shots on what’s presented and how it’s presented.  I say that because I saw it starting to bleed down to the local level before I got out of the news business in 1993.

Which corporations own which news outlets?  I’ll give you a pretty cool visual idea if you’ll just click here.

Remember the Fairness Doctrine?  Man, wouldn’t I love to have that back today!  Who did away with that?  Well, Fox News’ own Roger Ailes was a driving force there.  Need I say more?

What’s one of the major problems in the national news media today?  It’s the same major problem that we see in our nation’s government.  Corporate interference.  If you’ve never seen the movie “The Insider,” it gives an all-too-honest glimpse into just how strongly corporations can control what you see in your “national news diet,” how hard it is to fight it, and how frustrating it can be to those “old-school journalists” who ask the hard questions, only to see them get shot down by corporate interference.

Like Lowell Bergman of “60 Minutes” in the final scene of “The Insider,” it makes the old-school journalists want to just walk away from that whole stinkin’ mess as a final act of defiance.

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