McNiven Meanderings: media and fake news

Originally published in the 6/30/17 print edition of YCN.  

Jonathan McNiven (left) and Garth Brooks (right)

Well, folks, with so much happening at the mega news headquarters of Yellowstone County News (ok, that part might be stretching it a bit), I wanted to take this opportunity to opine a little bit and reflect on this week’s developments regarding our freedoms.  This edition of the newspaper will basically be our 4th of July Independence Day edition.

Not only am I referring to the freedoms of speech, freedom to worship and all the many freedoms that come with living in our great country of the United States of America, I’m also referring to the freedom to assemble, but this column specifically is referring to the freedom of the press.  Yes, I know, I’m referring to myself and all the rest of the media in regard to stories vs editorials that we provide to the masses.

Since my wife and I acquired the Yellowstone County News about 2 ½+ years ago, I’ve always tried to make sure the content in our newspaper is appropriate for the location in our paper.  For example, I take pride in making sure our information is resourceful, newsworthy and appropriate for each story and location in our paper each week, especially in our news.  Have you noticed that news is on the front page, and within our newspaper the editorials and columnists are in their respective sections and locations? Can you tell the difference between advertisements, news, and editorials?

Just to make sure, I googled the difference between “News vs Editorial” online. Here is what it says:

“Ideally, news articles are unbiased and objective. They present facts or report other people’s opinions, such as those of witnesses or experts. In general, a news article is supposed to be neutral, and an editorial is supposed to be opinionated

Here’s how I see it, “News” is something that is newsworthy with facts, sources and relevant information that is new, developing or of significance to the reader.  Editorials, (like my Meanderings, Krayton Kern’s Weekly Ramblings, Carl Wolf’s The Outdoors and Brad Molnar’s Political Potpourri columns are editorial information with their own viewpoint, opinions and perspectives).

As I’ve heard from many of my colleagues from my other job on the weekends, some were calling for Trump’s impeachment three months ago and calling for him to step down due to all the Russia stories that were in the news (even since Trumps inauguration) as well as the national media going on a “Trump witch hunt,” as Trump called it a week or so ago.

Here’s my two cents on the press and media. I learned as a legislator some years ago to “keep your powder dry” referring to not always firing off opinions and taking sides on every issue to the point that no one takes you seriously when you DO have something important to say, especially if you are not an expert on the issue or topic.  I’ve also learned that there is a time and appropriate place to do so.  In reference to Carl Wolf, and as many hunters know, gun powder is not useful if it is wet.  Hence, keep your powder dry!

I feel it’s appropriate to comment at this time on the following topics with my unique perspective as a former legislator and now as a newspaper media owner. As I’ve been on both sides of the conversation, I understand the credibility and time it takes to build trust among readers, constituents, reporters and the masses.  I’ve also learned as a legislator who always has slanted biased stories and who builds credibility due to the way stories are reported whether here in the state, county or nationally.

Personally, I’m glad to hear that 3 CNN staff members resigned (or were forced to leave) due to the Project Veritas undercover videos that came out this week showing that CNN was pushing false Russia stories not because they were truthful or verified (nor did they have any facts), but that it was a financially and politically motivated decision to do so. In other words, FAKE NEWS! This is a great example of FAKE NEWS. Apparently, it fit CNN’s agenda which apparently increased their viewership as well.  In fact, since Trump’s inauguration in January, CNN mentioned Russia over 15,000 times on air, and now have to retract basically what they have been saying or reporting. In the long run, it has hurt CNN and their credibility, which I had already suspected and personally felt watching their programs over the years.  One thing I’ve learned over my years in politics (and now in the media) is to look at the source and learn how to filter through all the clutter and distractions to find the actual facts, regardless of who is reporting it like Fox, CNN, CBS, NBC, ABC, et al.   However, I do give credit to Project Veritas as investigative journalism as they documented, used video and facts for their project reporting which led to the 3 CNN resignations.

To this day and through many countless news articles, I’ve found no evidence that Trump or his team has colluded with Russia to the detriment of the United States, and I’ve always tried to keep my powder dry until the facts come out, but I’m prepared to take the stance that there is no collusion at this time with Trump and Russia to the point that I call on the national media and local media to start focusing on the real issues our country faces like Obamacare, tax reform, and our own national debt and domestic issues. In fact, I think it’s just the opposite: I’m confident the MSM media is colluding with the liberal agenda to make it even harder for Trump and his administration to get anything of substance done. Instead, let’s get off the Trump impeachment bandwagon, and, like I tell my colleagues at my other job, start focusing on a solution to the real issues.  Let the Trump administration get the real issues tackled instead of trying to influence the conversation to the point of detracting the administration and US Congress of doing their real job.

The administration needs to get to work on executing their domestic issues and work within a fiscal budget to help make the country not only more stable but fiscally sound as well. Congress needs to get to work in creating law and legislation that fixes the disastrous Obamacare and healthcare reform.  As Congress has an approval rating of like 21% today, it would do them good to actually do their job and help create a balanced budget and create legislation that matters to the blue-collar and middle-class worker.  I’m actually glad that our newly elected US Representative Greg Gianforte submitted ... Read other half of Meanderings section online or by subscribing for $39.00/year. (In print and online)