Dear The Media - An Open Letter

For the past few years, you’ve been given a bad rap. With the introduction of fake news into the public lexicon, and the vast distrust regarding the intentions behind every story from every publication still in circulation permeating, I imagine calling oneself a journalist has gone from being a term of pride to one granted at best lukewarm reception.

Whereas once the American Public uniformly revered its great broadcasters, writers, and hosts as beacons of truth in an otherwise dark and confusing world, now you’re regarded as hacks. It’s sad. It really is. I know, because once upon a time I strongly considered going to school for journalism — at the University of Missouri; I didn’t, because I knew even then the field itself was at risk of going extinct, so I chose to study screenwriting instead, to mixed results. 

But my heart still goes out to those who set out with pure intentions to serve the public as the media in theory does, and if not in practice, should do. Since finding myself suddenly in the throes of political power struggles, because life’s random like that, I feel a cold sort of sadness as it relates to the journalistic climate today, especially as it relates to American politics. 

When President Trump took the nation by storm with his for some reason elegant style of bullying, and his insistence at punching harder and stronger than anyone who dare hit him, a good thing happened: people got skeptical. People got a little harder to fool, and came to agree that they’d been sold a bill of goods, en masse, by a community of people who had been co-opted by the worst capitalism has to offer, turning publications intended for the acquisition and dissemination of truth into profit-centric multinational entertainment empires loosely based in fact. 

But a bad thing happened when fake news became known as such… all news lost its credibility. It’s reached a point, and I’m sure everyone can agree — regardless of their chosen source of information — that it’s beyond difficult to know what to trust these days. Whereas before there were bad apples, it’s now reached a point where we have to wonder if what we just read was written by a savvy young whippersnapper out to get to the bottom of things or a Putin operative sent to destroy American democracy. Most, I assume, fall somewhere in between. 

But that’s even worse! Because that middle ground is disgusting. Now we can’t trust anyone. 

I won’t mention my father’s name, or say a word to campaign for him in this piece, because above all I’m hoping that if anyone in the purists do read this, they do so with open eyes… but my dad is running for high level public office. As we speak, people in Washington DC are doubling down on whatever backdoor deals they made to ensure my dad, and no one else like him, gets elected. 

It’s that simple. We’ve reached a point in American politics where the kingmakers don’t even have to be subtle about it anymore, and the plutocrats with a seat at the table need only say what they wish to be an outcome and their money can buy a path to its coming to pass. The worst part is, no one seems to care. Everyone is so checked out, few even have a visceral reaction to clear proof what are supposed to be sacred rights are being violated. 

It’s like watching a lot of people watch a few people rape a lot of people, if that makes sense.

They passively watch, as if it’s all reality TV, while the media is nowhere to be found… I don’t think it’s because there is no real journalism left in this country. I believe there are real journalists. They’ve just been run out the game by editorial environments that push them toward writing dumber, shorter, and more ad-friendly, to the point they can’t even take pride in their work. 

I remember when being published in Esquire was one of my ultimate life goals. Now I can hardly find an article in the sea of ads worth my time, and those articles I do find tend to have a lot of pictures, with a lot of product placement. That’s supposed to be part of it, I know… the whole relishing in the coolest stuff out there as it relates to the quintessential man, but to be published in Esquire today means a lot less than it once did. That can change, and I hope it does, but that’s my view as an increasingly unenthused subscriber.

How many other publications out there have not only sacrificed the quality and quantity of their content in favor of financial survival and profitability, but gone out of circulation completely? Too many is the answer. 

I’m writing this as a writer hoping there’s other writers out there; and also as a patriot, who is enough of one not to laugh at the word because to me it still means something; I’m writing you as a guy who just wants what’s best for the country, and is pissed off, for lack of a more elegant term, to see what’s supposed to be replaced by what is, and what’s in line to be. It’s just not right. 

It’s bad. 

It’s really bad that elections can be decided by the people already elected, and that there seem to be no immediately apparent checks to that process. It’s really bad that the only bad news that gets reported on is the kind that’s already passed, and that we can do nothing about. The kind of bad in progress, and that can be stopped in its tracked if an informed public were given the information necessary to act in their own and shared best interests seems to go unheeded in its path to fruition. 

The bad guys are winning, in other words. If anyone is truly calling them out on it, they’re not around for long, or no one’s paying attention, because it’s so obvious to anyone in politics. It’s my hope that someone reading this, and perhaps its you, or someone you know you’ll send this to, is a real journalist that still understands the role the media is meant to play in American politics. 

I’ve heard it said that the media is the fourth branch of American Government, there to keep all others in check… like an overzealous police officer who can’t give the case up and forgot what off the clock means, they’re meant to be there keeping a watchful eye on what’s happening, so that an informed voter base can exercise their right to vote to affect the flow of events that shape our nation’s very history. 

I am calling upon any of these journalists to which I refer, who I know must still exist, or at least want to exist, to consider talking to me about events underway that not only affect the local citizenry in my state, but are indicative of the tectonic power forces that are really of a most simplistic and alterable nature once the clouds of confusion and doubt subside and truth is seen.

It is only then people can be motivated to act, even when the survival of their own country is on the line, it’s near impossible to galvanize people in a meaningful way when there is no objective source outside of your immediate realm of influence the public can trust. I don’t want a journalist to let me feed them a story to copy and paste and tell the world about. I, like anyone else, have reasons to want certain outcomes that may or may not be in harmony with those desired by others. 

I think my intentions and the outcomes I seek are pure and noble, but it’s not for me to say. 

What I want is someone who hears the proposition they could break stories that not only get feedback, likes, and shares, and all those metrics that seem to have become the bedrock of most corporate decision making these days… but break stories that actually matter and gets excited. I want someone who loves the idea of getting to the bottom of something shady, and exposing the bad guys for who or what they are, to the benefit of the good. 

I’m hoping to get the attention of someone with the reach and talent to create stories that are inherently interesting and entertaining, with no need for clickbait titles, manufactured drama, or feigned outrage. I want someone who saw that movie where Al Pacino plays the 60 Minutes reporter and thought WOW, that guys awesome. I want to be like THAT! I want someone who isn’t afraid to ask questions people with “too much on the line” shy away from,  or who are more concerned with finding and spreading the truth than fitting the overall narrative their networks or publications have decided are their niche, and seek to only publish stories that align with what the audience is expecting to hear. 

Are there any real journalists out there still? If so, I’ve not only got a hell of a story for you… I can hand you ringside seats to the fights no one knows about, that are shaping the future. These are the fights not for office, but for the CHANCE to truly run on a level playing field. These are the fights that determine how something is to be packaged and marketed, because the right wording is ultimately all that’s needed for people to vote how you want them to on Proposition whatever. I’m talking about the fights that take place in the shadows, behind closed doors and before the public gains any awareness of what’s happening, by which time the outcomes are already decided. 

I’m talking about things that the public will not only be interested in finding out about, but NEED to find out about if we want any semblance of the reverence the American public is meant to have for the media is to be restored. I care more about results than anything else, and when I say results, I mean objectively good things happening instead of bad. 

I want to see less Americans dying in wars, but also none by their own hand… because how can we ostensibly take so much pride in our military while at the same time witnessing it implode?

I want to see the proper reasons for mass shootings brought to the fore and acted upon meaningfully, rather than knee-jerk responses dangerously intertwined with identity politics.

I want to see the public choose their elected officials, and not the other way around. 

I want to see opportunity abound for those among us motivated to create and achieve, not a generation of people wishing the economy recognized their value to mankind.

I want to see us as a people unite under the values we share, and come to understand those to which we are opposed, at which point we can work together to resolve our differences. 

I want very basic things. And these things, believe it or not, have some very basic solutions. But apathy can be a heavy blanket. Too many of us are growing… hell, HAVE GROWN content with a reality in which our voice truly doesn’t matter. 

We have come to obey those with both eyes in the rear view mirror, all the while treating those who see the future as hitchhikers not worth a second gander. 

We find ourselves at a point in human history where such massive changes are taking place all around us, whether we choose to notice it or not, the consequences of which will spare none. That’s to say nothing of the ripple effect these developments will have on future generations, to whom we will be in no position to guide or lead, either in real-time or example.

I am witnessing the destruction of my own country. And it’s not coming from Putin. It’s not coming from global warming. It’s not coming from any of the things we commonly fear. It’s coming from us. It’s coming from our failure not only to recognize the truth, but to seek it out to begin with. We’re on a sinking ship arguing over stories that explain away whose fault it is the boat is sinking.

Meanwhile, it’s sinking.

I pray someone out there cares enough to get eyes on what I’m seeing all around me, because it’s real. It’s here. And it’s so easily defeated. If only the public knew the truth. Are you all owned by your advertisers? Do you exist only to recapitulate the stories most readily devoured by the echo chambers in which you reign supreme? Is there such a thing as a real journalist anymore? 

The only way not only my dad’s campaign, but any and all campaigns in this country, can be fairly executed in line with the spirit of Democracy is if the media steps up. It’s not enough to take your cues from the top and find stories that fit your narrative. It’s not enough to copy and paste a tweet and write a few paragraphs about it, to be sandwiched between ads. It’s not enough to relax. 

Get mad. Get excited. Get emotional. This all matters!

We’re at a place where those in power are so comfortable, they truly believe all they need is money to keep an increasingly uninformed and indifferent public at bay. They’re so arrogant they no longer even feel a need to engage their constituents before they give them marching orders. We’re at a place where that heavy blanket of apathy is so warm and dense most Americans don’t even comprehend what it is to be an American, and why so many people want to come here we have to focus on building giant walls to keep them out. 

Why does no one vote?

Why does no one born after like 1980 know how our elections even work?

Or what it means for them?

Or who’s running?

Or why?

Why, when we have such ready and immediate access to the most intricate and immediate networks of human communication ever conceived by man, are we still so uninformed? 

Why do I, someone with such limited individual reach, seem to be the only one asking why in my state right now?  Why is it so hard to run for office in this country? Why are candidates so easily boxed out and shut down? Why are there only two parties who control everything? Why do those parties get away with picking candidates ahead of time? Why is national funding being poured into a state primary? Why is my state referred to on the news as a chess piece in national party politics, instead of an actual state with people with both shared and unique concerns, who are entitled to a voice in Congress? Why is a sitting President being used to tinker with state primary elections? Why would a President choose to endorse someone he’s never met and has no reason to like?

There are so many whys. But no one with a real audience asking them. It is my hope that will change, and this letter is just another dart I’m throwing at the board in hopes that it will. If nothing else, look into “Rule 11” in Missouri, and what it means to bypass that behind the voters’ backs. Take a look into what’s being done to help our veterans by those supposedly running for office. Take a look at how it’s legal for someone to get elected to a governmental seat but still run for another office at the same time, while at once forcing a university employee out of his job because he’s a “state employee”. Take a look at the role the media plays in ousting people from office based on allegations, and whether that’s in line with the spirit of our legal system. Take a look at rumors Republicans are pushing a candidate with narratives and evidence of a morally compromising past scheduled to come to light after the primary. Take a look at whether this election even has anything to do with one party versus the other, or more to do with backroom personal political agendas. 

Those are just some starting points. Don’t take my word for anything. You’re not doing your job as a journalist if you do, because I obviously want my own dad to win the election he’s in. I could lie or be misinformed like anyone else, but if any of what I said struck a cord, and there’s a chance at least some of what I’m saying is dead on and highly relevant, isn’t it your duty to look into it as a journalist wanting to revive an informed populace? Or are you too comfortable under that blanket?

Please consider breaking the mold and breaking the rules and doing what you want to be doing: hunting down truth. Thanks. If I can be of any assistance let me know. Happy hunting!