National media should focus on what’s important

Ted Hamilton

You know a country is in dire straits when more citizens vote for their favorite “American Idol” than for the nation’s next president. Not just in the last general election, but any in the history of the United States. Maybe Taylor Hicks is a great entertainer. Is he more important than the person who arguably is the most influential person in the world and has the ability to push the big red button?

American society’s obsession with celebrities has begun to influence every aspect of our lives. People look to celebrities as all-knowing, more-human-than-human entities that are the source of all knowledge in the universe. Maybe even worse are the celebrities who think they do know everything. Who can forget Tom Cruise going on about psychiatric drugs as if he were a doctor? While I concur with him that drugs are not the solution for everything, there is plenty of proof that antidepressants can help some people with mental illness.

Sadly, our media is largely to blame for helping us create our celebrity temples. On, a story about the new attorney general is directly across from a video about Britney Spears and her custody battle. Is this really news that should be at the top of the Web site? On, news of rapper 50 Cent canceling three concerts in Europe is on the page with no mention of the arguments between France and Iran that could eventually lead to war.

CNN has even asked 50 Cent who he supports in the 2008 election. So if 50 lends support for a Clinton nomination in 2008, he knows more than an economist who thinks we should support someone else? The article then mentions how other rappers support Democratic candidate Barack Obama. Apparently a rapper’s opinion of who would be best at running our nation should mean a lot to the average voter. At least that appears to be what the media want us to think. Not economists, scientists, policy makers or Nobel Prize winners, but people who have become famous because they can rhyme and make derogatory comments about women. This is the message CNN and America’s other news organizations are sending us.

For part of the last week, Fox News, CNN, MSNBC and every other news organization forgot about the war in Afghanistan, the value of the dollar and poverty. Why? Because O.J. Simpson allegedly committed robbery. It might be forgivable if this was not a repeat for them forgetting to report hard news. It is like a flashback to when he was in trouble for allegedly killing his wife.

News has become nothing more than entertainment. Hard news has softened and faded away. Much of today’s media is reporting today’s celebrity break up, not tomorrow’s growing deficit.

Slowly but surely we are becoming brainwashed and no longer worried about the direction of our country, but who will win the next “American Idol.”

Ted Hamilton is a junior magazine journalism major and a columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected].