Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The Media as Watchdog

This week’s recall of thousands of salmonella-tainted eggs is proof that the media is anything but a watchdog.

Two years ago, in the film "Food, Inc", Eric Schlosser, author of "Fast Food Nation", and Michael Pollan, author of "The Omnivore’s Dilemma", were featured by director Robert Kenner in a brutal expose of the deleterious practices of the food industry.

In one of the most disturbing segments of the film we see chickens crammed together in cages, hardly able to move, their feces dropping through the wire floor into spaces rarely cleaned. The buildings holding the chickens are hundreds of feet long, lit day and night, and dead birds are left to rot for days before anyone comes by to check on things.

Two years after a documentary vividly laid out the facts about industrial farming, the mainstream media is finally forced to report them because its practices have made large numbers of people sick - not to mention the money being lost by those having to recall their eggs.

This morning, a week after the recall of thousands of salmonella tainted eggs, CNN finally turned to Eric Schlosser and Dr. John Boyd, Founder and President of the National Black Farmers Association, who is a chicken farmer, for “insights” into this shocking state of affairs.

Alas, the excellent medical reporter Elizabeth Cohen, instead of being allowed to add her expertise on salmonella to the information provided by the chicken farmer, is there to exonerate the industry, pointing out that it is more difficult to be on top of things in industrial-size farms.

Instead of using the ‘teachable moment’ to suggest that industrial production of eggs is a bad idea, as eloquently demonstrated by a serious film two years ago, and explained today by the small producer and the investigative reporter, the message of the news channel that reaches into every household, is that salmonella is a minor matter compared to the (supposed) benefits of big agriculture.

The drill is the same for questions of war and peace - notably, this week, the growing threat of violence in our own streets over the building of a Muslim Community Center that will house a mosque. No meaningful information about Islam, its roots, its history, its brilliant scholars, etc.

But under the enlightening morning news features, the tiny crawler announced that Levi Johnson has filed papers to run for mayor of Wassila.

No comments:

Post a Comment