Our author responds: You make a well-reasoned point that Murrow’s speech could apply today with equal force with regard to the media’s power and its place in the American psyche.
If media’s responsibility was “unprecedented” in Murrow’s time, it has reached epic proportions today given its ever-increasing reach. And while I agree that a small part of the problem is media’s failure to challenge, I would also add that another facet is our comfort level in not challenging ourselves and our fellow citizens. While media’s responsibility is unprecedented today more so than in Murrow’s time, so is our duty as American citizens. To quote Murrow, “I do not advocate that we turn television into a 27-inch wailing wall, where longhairs constantly moan about the state of our culture and our defense. But I would just like to see it reflect occasionally the hard, unyielding realities of the world in which we live. I would like to see it done inside the existing framework, and I would like to see the doing of it redound to the credit of those who finance and program it.”
And, I would add to that statement that if some programs do in fact meet that threshold, than we still have a responsibility to our own intellectual capabilities to question and confirm what we hear. Idealistic, I admit, but that isn’t a reason for summary dismissal either.