Lesson 4: The Media’s Code Of Ethics Is Their Scapegoat

There’s always an angle.

In Des Moines, Iowa, I was involved in an incident where a man beat up a woman in a bar.  In spite of the subsequent article I published about the fight, obtaining well over 75,000 readers, in a city with 251,000 people counted in its metro population, the local media did not publish an article about what happened, with one employee of a news station stating, “We have a code of ethics.  We can’t just write about a he said she said situation, there has to be police reports, documents, and records to back up what we publish.”

Of course, there were police reports, two of them that were filed three days after the incident, but even then, the media could have indirectly covered the story by doing a piece about downtown safety, they could have written a public interest piece about my own career, in order to help protect me from the backlash I encountered when the bar owner started public attacking me, or they could have had reporters call the police department, and ask why they were refusing to investigate, or published an investigative journalism piece about the police response, because there is always an angle, even if it comes down to publishing a simple Op Ed.

While hiding behind this feigned, and selectively applied, code of ethics, and treating me like I couldn’t possibly understand how the media works, after traveling a half a million miles to two-thousand cities, dealing directly no less than a thousand journalists, they admit one of two things: either they are idiots who don’t know how to do their jobs, or they are willfully not doing their jobs, in order to protect the economic development of the downtown area.

If articles were published about the violence downtown, people may stop going there, which would be corrosive to the image and economy of the city, which is that of a town in the midst of a major economic upswing. So what what if a few people get beat up, the greater image of the City of Des Moines is at stake, after all.  This is spite of the fact that there is historical evidence which reflects that ignoring violence in the name of economic development always ends up leading to the destruction of a revitalized area, like what happened with The Flats, in Cleveland, a series of bars located on the shores of Lake Erie.

The Cleveland media ignored violence for years, until multiple people were killed, which eventually left The Flats what it is today, a decaying ghost town, a mere shadow of it’s former weekends filled with tens of thousands of thirty drinkers, looking for a good time.

I’m sure if you called Des Moines news stations, they’d immediately claim they are not corrupt, which could only then confirm that they’re idiots, or better yet, talentless, visionless, plebeian, morons, which is why they aren’t writing for reputable national media outlets in the first place.  There is a reason they’re stuck in backwater Iowa, and it’s not because they’ve demonstrated any form of shining brilliance that might set them apart from the wandering herd of mindless sheep that call themselves reporters.

My opinion is they they’re a mixture of both, but I generally default to the statement, never blame conspiracy on something that can easily be attributed to idiocy.  In the case of Des Moines, I think there are other factors at work, like laziness, cowardice, and a simple lack of ability to experience sympathy or empathy.

Using a broad sweeping generalization, I’ve noted, after speaking to at least a thousand journalists over the last seven years, that most of them are emotionless sociopaths who don’t give two shits what happens to the people they’re allegedly protecting.  Watching them win self-nominated awards for bravery is one of my most favorite treats, because they only do this to sooth the sore that is their own lack of courage, an act designed to convince themselves, and everyone around them, that they are something that they are truly not: brave.

The battle of Mike Mason

An exception to that generalization is Mike Mason, a television reporter I met after he published a film called ‘Hidden Secrets’ about the EPA corruption behind the Asheville CTS Superfund toxic waste site.  His film exposed the US EPA for its lack of action, and criminal actions, surrounding a toxic waste site that was poisoning an entire community, in Asheville, North Carolina, to the point that eventually, the EPA evacuated the residents of the development, for fear of ongoing TCE exposure, but not after the EPA had lied to the community and trespassed on their land for nine years, telling the citizens they were safe.

A few year later, Mike began investigating a corrupt police officer in his town, the son of the chief of police, who had been involved in an accident in his cruiser.  Mike uncovered that after the accident, the matter had been buried, and that the police department had given special treatment to the chief’s son.  When Mason pressed the matter with his editor, who was friends with the chief, Mike was fired from his job.

In relation to Des Moines, this is where we introduce the concept of courage, having the guts to stand up against corruption and power.  Mike had a lot of guts to stand up to the EPA, over Asheville CTS, and even more guts to stand up to the chief of police, but in the end, he lost his job, for no other reason than his editor was a coward and a crook, a result of news organization promoting the most ineffective person to the top of the food chain, because doing so results in a leader who is at no risk of rocking the boat and bucking the status quo.

Would the media in Des Moines be willing to admit that they’re afraid, that they have houses, and car payments, and can’t risk their jobs, to stand up to the police for not investigating, or better yet, the economic development plans of city officials?  Probably not.  Instead, they feign ignorance of how their own profession has the ability to find an angle, and then claim a “code of ethics” as the reason they can’t work to help capture a man who assaulted a woman, instead leaving her ground up in the gears of a complex system of corruption, her story marginalized.

But this is just a microcosm

There are a little over 19,000 cities, towns, and villages, in The United States.  And in each one of these places you’ll find the same concepts demonstrated in Des Moines, hard at work protecting the local status quo, and news reporters ability to make their Kia payment.  If one travels the country like I have, they’ll start to notice the pattern, the same behavior, the same excuses, the same weak kneed editor, over and over, like some kind of bizarre Agent Smith character from The Matrix.  When an activist finally figures this out, it becomes a source of the darkness that slowly absorbs the light in the hearts of the brave.

As an activist, if you have a soul, it will slowly start to be devoured, you’ll lie awake at night understanding that you know a disturbing truth, and that the only people that can get that truth out are the very people who are burying it to begin with.  You’ll become weighted down with knowledge.  If you then stand up to tell people, “I know something no one knows,” everyone around you will say, “That person is crazy.”  You’ll be gaslighted, treated like you suffer from some form of mental illness, because you’re talking about something that is actually happening.

Then, you’ll speak with a journalist, ask them to write about what you’ve discovered, and with no sense of irony whatsoever they’ll say, “Our code of ethics prevents us from writing about it.”

Matt

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